The Spirit Chapel: A safe space

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hailey Farrell
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Recently, the Spirt Chapel at Whiteman Air Force Base sprang into action to support an Airman in need.

“A couple of months ago Isaac and I received a phone call from one of our units, an Airman was about to hear someone close to her had died,” said U.S. Air Force Major William Mesaeh, 509th Bomb Wing chaplain.

The Airman’s leadership asked a chapel team to be there for the Airman when they hear the news.  

Once U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Carol Isaac, 509th Bomb Wing religious affairs Airman and Mesaeh arrived, Isaac began talking to the Airman in crisis.

Mesaeh looked around the room and saw it was full of people. He asked the Airman if they would like some of them to step out. The Airman said “Yes,” so everyone but Isaac left the room. Mesaeh saw the pressure valve go down for the Airman’s leadership. He said it brought calmness to the unit.

“To their leadership, Isaac became the face of this Airmen’s tragedy,” said Mesaeh, meaning that Isaac communicated the overwhelmed Airmen’s needs to their leadership.

Because the chaplain and religious affairs Airman team showed up to provide emotional support for the Airman like they are trained to do, the Airman’s leadership could provide other support for the Airman that they are better equipped for, like ensuring they were able to go home to be with their family.

Situations like this illustrate how the 509th Bomb Wing chapel helps champion the Air Force we need, creating stronger, more resilient Airmen.

“We are a safe space for Airmen to take a knee and when they are ready, go back into the fight,” said Isaac.

The Air Force mission is driven by Airmen and behind every uniform is a human being with spiritual and emotional needs.

“The Spirit Chapel is a safe place to be unwell,” said Mesaeh. “It’s almost always privileged communication that opens the door because it’s safe for them to be a hot mess if that’s what they need.”

Part of the job for chaplains and Religious Affairs Airmen is to embed with squadrons and go around and engage with Airmen to gauge morale and wellness within the squadron. 

“The chapel is a key component of Airmen’s readiness, especially when you consider the pillars of comprehensive Airman fitness: mental, physical, spiritual, and social,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Chase Cantrell, 509th Bomb Wing chaplain. “The spiritual pillar is important, regardless of faith and is a component of your being that needs attention.”

The chaplains and Religious Affairs Airmen work hand in hand to provide care to Airmen and their families.

The resources offered by the chapel are available to all service members and their families.

“The purpose of our programs is to make Airmen and their families more resilient, designed to improve leadership and relationship skills,” said Cantrell. “Basically, build a stronger emotional and spiritual connection between Airmen and their surroundings.”

The chapel team offers support to service members, civilians, and their families in the form of counseling which can be faith-based or not and is 100% confidential.

“Our confidentiality allows for very open and honest communication with Airmen and their families to walk them through almost any situation they’re dealing with,” said Cantrell.

The Spirit Chapel at Whiteman AFB takes care of Team Whiteman so they are ready to execute global strike… anytime, anywhere.

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