By Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt, 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs / Published March 05, 2014
Chaplain (Capt.) Robert Compere (left) speaks with Airmen in the missile field Feb. 20, 2014, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Malmstrom AFB's Chaplain Corps cover the entire 13,800-square-mile missile complex, including the base. Compere is a 341st Missile Wing chaplain. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)
Airmen speak with a chaplain and chaplain assistant during a "MAF a Month" tour Feb. 20, 2014 at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. During the tours, chaplain teams visit all of Malmstrom AFB's 15 missile alert facilities to speak with Airmen, and make sure their mental health and morale is good while locally deployed to the missile field. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)
MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. (AFNS) --
For Airmen who work in the missile field here, the hours are long, the workload can be heavy and the location is remote. Recently the chapel here implemented a program here to bridge the gap between the solitude of life in the field and Malmstrom AFB.
The “Missile Alert Facility a Month” program, designed by the Air Force Chaplain Corps, allows teams of chaplains and chaplain’s assistants to drive out to missile alert facilities, or MAF’s, to visit these locally deployed Airmen.
Visits can encompass everything from a simple “hello” or “how are you doing,” to more personal conversations; giving Airmen a chance to vent their emotions and cope with life while away from friends and family.
"This is a very important program," said Chaplain (Capt.) Robert Compere, a 341st Missile Wing chaplain. "Our main goal is to meet everyone we can and get to know them. We like to make our visits as comfortable as possible because while they are deployed in the field, everything for them is military, military, military. They are under a lot of pressure. We try to break that barrier down a little bit so we can get to know them on a more personal level and make sure their needs are being met and the overall morale is good.”
Though the program is called “Missile Alert Facility a Month,” all 15 MAFs are visited by a chaplain each month. According to the Malmstrom AFB’s chaplains, the program is a great success.
"Often times, we even get the chance to visit almost all of them twice during that time frame,” Compere said. “One of the things that make these visits a big success is that Airmen have time to sit down and talk with us. Especially in the security forces career field while (Airmen) are on base, everyone is so busy and there is almost no time to sit down for a couple minutes. While deployed to the field, we have an opportunity to sit down with them for a couple hours and address anything they would like."
Malmstrom AFB’s Chaplain Corps covers the entire 13,800-square-mile missile complex, including the base. With more than 3,300 military members, 550 civilians and 3,200 dependents assigned, the ratio of people to chaplains is almost 1,000 to one.
"It can seem like a daunting task sometimes, but we make it work," said Staff Sgt. William Curtiss, the 341st MW chapel logistical readiness NCO in charge. "Even with the long drives and weather conditions, it's always good to get the chance to spend some one-on-one time with the people out here (in the field) and just have some fun."
According to Airmen who had the opportunity to meet with the team, the experience was a much needed break away from the daily grind of locally deployed duties out in the missile field. The advice offered and the simple opportunity to speak with another person about anything was much appreciated.
"I really enjoyed being able to talk with Captain Compere and Staff Sergeant Curtiss," said Airman 1st Class Jasmeen Nasir, the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron security response team leader. "To see someone take time out of their day and drive hundreds of miles to speak with me just made me feel special. I'm looking forward to the next visit."