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NEWS | Oct. 4, 2016

Chaplains provide spiritual guidance, counseling to JBSA members

Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

From conducting religious services to counseling, chaplains at Joint Base San Antonio perform many duties which help fulfill the spiritual needs of active-duty personnel and JBSA community members.

Active-duty and reserve members, retirees and civilian workers of all faiths seeking spiritual guidance can visit the chapel centers located at all three JBSA locations. The chapel centers provide an array of opportunities for spiritual fulfillment, including worship services, religious education classes, pre-marital and marital counseling, family counseling and counseling for active-duty members.

Maj. Shawn Menchion, 502nd Air Base Wing deputy chaplain at JBSA-Randolph, said chaplains accommodate the religious and spiritual needs of active-duty members, regardless of faith.

“We ensure the free exercise of religion for all active-duty members, including those of and with no faith, to make sure their needs are met,” Menchion said.

Maj. William Spencer, 502nd ABW chaplain for Basic Military Training at JBSA-Lackland, said he and other chaplains at the installation provide for the spiritual and faith-based needs of a diverse group of basic military trainees.

“We offer 30 different worship services or religious education classes from about 19 different faith traditions,” Spencer said. “They are open to everyone to attend.”

Since trainees are restricted from going off JBSA-Lackland, chapel services must accommodate the needs of trainees of various faiths, including Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Islamic and Sikh, among others, said Spencer. JBSA-Lackland chaplains include Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, a Jewish rabbi, an Islamic imam and an Orthodox priest.

Spencer said chaplains work with and advise JBSA-Lackland commanders on how to accommodate the religious requests and requirements of active-duty members of all faiths. One example of religious accommodation is the chaplains have established a relationship with the Sikh Center of San Antonio to have a faith leader come to the base to provide ministry to the trainees of their faith tradition.

At JBSA-Randolph, Catholic Masses and Protestant services are held at both the Main Chapel, building 102, and the Religious Activity Center, building 975. For those active-duty members of other faiths, Menchion said the chaplain’s office can find ways to accommodate their needs.

Menchion said chaplains provide for the spiritual care of active-duty personnel at JBSA-Randolph who seek it by going to the units they serve. Spiritual care includes one-on-one talks - which are confidential - between chaplains and service members on any problems, concerns or struggles they are going through in their lives, at work or with their families.

“We want to be in their environment to make sure they are spiritually fit,” Menchion said. “Our goal is to help them see a broader, deeper meaning to what they have encountered.”

Army Chaplain (Col.) Stan Whitten, 502nd Force Support Group garrison chaplain at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, said his focus is helping military members with their spiritual needs.

“It’s making a direct impact on the spiritual life of groups and individuals by strengthening their faith,” he said.

Whitten said an Army Family Life chaplain on post provides counseling to couples, families and individuals on any issue or problem they have.
In addition, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Chapel Services organizes retreats for active-duty and family members which include activities to improve the spiritual life of the attendees, said Whitten.

JBSA-Randolph Chapel Services hosts two monthly events, a dinner for single Airmen and a lunch for students in the Basic Sensor Operator Course, at the Chapel Center. Menchion said the purpose of both functions is to build the spiritual resilience of active-duty members.
“We engage them in spiritual talks and discussions, hearing from them about their experiences,” he said.

Whitten said JBSA-Fort Sam Houston chaplains are gearing up for a drive to provide food vouchers for junior enlisted members and their families for their Thanksgiving holiday meal. Enlisted members and their families will be able to use the vouchers at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Commissary.

Offerings for the vouchers will be collected at worship services, Whitten said.

Spencer said chaplains at JBSA-Lackland will be directing traffic and providing refreshments at the base to individuals who will be participating in Operation Home Cooking on Thanksgiving Day.

Operation Home Cooking gives area families an opportunity to sponsor and pick up a basic trainee and treat them to Thanksgiving dinner at their homes.

Participating in activities that provide for the social, mental and physical needs of JBSA community members, whether they are trainees, active-duty or civilians, are interconnected to their spiritual needs, said Spencer.

For a schedule of worship services and religious education classes and counseling services at all JBSA chapel center locations, go to the JBSA Chaplain Services website, www.jbsa.mil/Resources/Chaplain-Services.

Chaplain centers can also help with weddings, funerals, promotions and retirement events.

To contact a chaplain, call the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Installation Chaplain Office at 221-5005 or 5937; JBSA-Lackand at 671-2911; or the JBSA-Randolph Chapel Center at 652-6121. Any JBSA member who needs to contact a chaplain in an after-hours emergency should contact the JBSA Command Post at 221-9363.