JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —
The joys of the holiday season can often be clouded by
feelings of loneliness and anxiety.
These feelings can especially affect military members and
their families during deployments and other periods of separation, young Airmen
away from home for the first time and those who are dealing with the loss of a
Mental health flights, military and family readiness
centers, Military OneSource and other resources can help active-duty members
and their families, as well as retirees, deal with the stressors of the season,
but chaplains provide another perspective, helping people achieve spiritual
“We’re one of the pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness,”
said Chaplain (Capt.) Richard Boyd, 502nd Air Base Wing. “We provide the
ministerial aspect of it. The advice we give is through our faith perspective.”
Boyd, who has been assigned to the Joint Base San
Antonio-Randolph Chaplain Office for three years, said his emphasis is on faith
and family – turning outward – when he counsels people who are struggling
during the holiday season.
“I believe that Christmas is not just about getting more
stuff, and it isn’t just about decorating your house so that you can win the
neighborhood lighting contest,” he said. “There is more to it than that. I
believe that Christmas is the time where we can stop turning inward on
ourselves and see that there is more to life than just fulfilling our own
desires and wants.”
Boyd said Christmas celebrates “the coming of Christ into
the world to save us from our sins.”
“Christmas is the time when we can turn outward and find
value in God and other people, especially family,” he said. “Remembering that
will help us see beyond the here and the now and find hope for our future.”
In addition to feeling isolated and lonely, people can experience
anxiety because of financial obligations during the season. They may feel
guilty because they don’t have the financial resources to buy the best gifts,
or they may go into debt when they overspend.
“It is the time of year when our culture is telling us to
buy more,” Boyd said. “How many commercials do we watch and how many emails do
we receive every day that tell us that we won't be happy until we buy more
“I love to receive nice Christmas presents as much as anyone
else,” he said. “But it isn't about getting stuff that matters.”
Boyd said Christmas provides an opportunity to follow
Christ’s teachings and give rather than receive.
“Wouldn’t it be better if we used what we have to help those
who do not have much?” he asked.
In addition to counseling Airmen who are missing their
parents and feeling isolated and discouraged, the chaplain office helps provide
opportunities for young active-duty members to “turn outward” through events
like single Airmen’s dinners and holiday cookie drives.
When spouses are separated due to deployments, Boyd said
chaplains help the spouses who are at home by offering help with yard work,
vehicle issues and other everyday problems.
During the holidays, he encourages spouses who are separated
to place unresolved issues “on the shelf” when they communicate, whether it’s
through emails, letters, phone calls or Skype.
“Talk about the good things,” he said. “Look forward to the
opportunities you have now.”
Boyd said the best advice he can give to people who are
feeling lonely and stressed out by life “is that there is a God who loves you
more than you can imagine and who sees the difficulties that you are going
“He is working behind the scenes through those difficulties
and He will turn them into something good,” Boyd said. “Ask Him to help you and
then when He does, remind those around you of where they can go to get His help
too. Christmas is a reminder that He came so that you would not have to be
alone, and He promised that He will never leave you or forsake you.”