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Keesler Chapel fosters resiliency

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

In the months of September, October and November, the 81st Training Wing Chapel team has created three resiliency events targeting different cross-sections of the base community.

The largest of the three events is Home Away from Home and will be happening Nov. 22. This event occurs each year on Thanksgiving and is an avenue for 81st Training Group students to be sponsored by families in the Biloxi area to enjoy a home-cooked meal during the holiday.

On Sept. 29, several junior Airmen assigned to permanent party squadrons joined chapel staff members for a fishing trip at Navarre Beach in Florida.

The members of the 81st Medical Group and 81st Mission Support Group learned to fish along the pier between games of beach volley ball.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Matthew Boyd, 81st TRW deputy wing chaplain and an experienced fisherman, showed the Airmen how to tie their hooks, bait them and cast their lines.

“It’s so important for Airmen to have a hobby that is healthy,” Boyd said. “The Airmen who went on the fishing trip learned a new skill, enjoyed some wonderful weather and had fun with their peers.”

Two weeks later on Oct. 11, the chapel sponsored an event at one of the local Go-Kart race courses for the helping agencies on base. Prior to revving their engines, Chaplain (Capt.) Richard Casey, 81st TRW chaplain, gave a brief on the need for intentional spiritual development.

“How many of you have ever gone to the gym, wandered around aimlessly for a bit, and left,” Casey asked. Several raised their hands. “And how much did it help?”

The group answered that it did not help much.

“Spirituality works similarly,” said Casey “If we have a spirituality, but we aren’t intentional about developing it, it won’t benefit us just like roaming around the gym won’t make us physically stronger.”

In both events Airmen from around the base supported the chapel’s execution of the programs.

“We couldn’t run these programs without our Airmen,” Casey said. “We have volunteers from 81st Logistics Readiness Squadron who drive for us, defenders from 81st Security Forces Squadron who help us advertise, and our own religious affairs Airmen who coordinate resources and contracts for the events. It is truly an effort by our Airmen to take care of their fellow Airmen and civilian personnel.”

Staff Sgt. Asia Warren and Airman 1st Class Colvin Franchina, 81st TRW religious affairs Airmen, play key roles in all of the chapel’s resiliency events.

“I really like being able to work on something that is bigger than myself and gives back to the Airmen and to our base,” Franchina said. “I think it is healthy to have a young Airman's perspective when planning and executing these gatherings, as it can facilitate a better and more approachable event."

On Nov. 19, the chapel sponsored a leadership luncheon targeting commanders, superintendents and first sergeants. Chaplain (Col.) Alan Chouest, 81st TRW Wing chaplain, said of the event, “We are all Airmen, from the newest airman basic to the Air Force Chief of Staff, and all of us benefit from spiritual resiliency, especially during difficult times. This luncheon shines a spiritual light to refresh our support agency leaders here on Keesler.”

For questions about chapel events, please call the chapel at 228-377-4859.