Wing chaplain helps soldiers stay spiritually fit in Gaziantep

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
When considering a person's wellbeing four factors come into play: physical, mental, social and spiritual. With no one being more important than the others, it is imperative to keep a balance between all four.

A chaplain from the 39th Air Base Wing helps soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade Air Defense Artillery deployed from Fort Sill, Okla., maintain this balance by providing religious service to catholic members in Gaziantep, Turkey.

"It allows the opportunity for spiritual fitness," said Lt. Col. Charles Branson, 3-2 ADA commander. "We talk about resiliency and, for Catholics, this is another avenue for them to use."

The soldiers have been deployed to Turkey since January in support of Turkey's request for NATO to help strengthen the country's air defenses. Building the site from the ground up, they lacked many of the commodities that most people are accustomed to - including services for Catholic soldiers.

"I think it's important [to provide spiritual service] since they are away from home, and a lot of the time you can't take things with you like family," said Chaplain Capt. Robert Monagle, 39th Air Base Wing chaplain. "They are doing a greater good, and for some the service helps keep things in perspective."

Branson said that as the soldiers deal with the stress of being deployed the Catholic service helps some feel more at home and at peace with themselves.

"You're at peace with yourself and it means you're at peace with others which allows us to focus on the mission," Branson said. "It also provides an opportunity for those who want to establish a spiritual relationship."

The impact the chaplain has is different for each person, but Monagle said he enjoys being able to help the soldiers.

"For each person it's different. Some people come up to me and thank me after the service while others may go home to think about the message," Monagle said. "For some people it helps with encouragement and for others it helps battle depression."

"I like being able to help people and let them know that people care," Monagle continued. "It lets them know they're not forgotten about and they're part of our team."