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908th Religious Affairs team breaks bread to inspire resilience throughout wing

  • Published
  • By Bradley J. Clark
  • 908th Airlift Wing

The 908th Airlift Wing’s head chaplain, Lt. Col. Bitrus Cobongs, has led the crusade to inform wing Airmen that the chaplains are always available to them.

“We want our Airmen to know they have access to chaplains 24/7 through the Command Post,” explained Cobongs.

One of the ways that Cobongs and the rest of the 908th Religious Affairs team, consisting of Chaplains Capt. Tiesha Simmons, 1st lt. Michael McDuffie, and Religious Affairs Airman superintendent Master Sgt. Doris Henry, are making sure that wing members know they are here for them is by having fellowship breakfasts or lunches with the different squadrons throughout the wing during the unit training assemblies.

“We started providing meals in February, and after this UTA we have covered 12 of 13 squadrons,” explained Cobongs. “The last will be the 908th Aeromedical Staging Squadron during the August UTA.”

The team uses the lunches a catalyst of sorts to jump start building relationships and to also address any potential issues a unit might be facing.

“The reason for the lunches is to give us the opportunity to talk about resiliency with the squadrons,” explained Cobongs. “For some units we have a specific topic of discussion based on what we know is going on in the unit so we can give members the opportunity to talk. In some cases, like the 25th Aerial Port Squadron and the 908th Security Forces Squadron, it has to do with the high operations tempo.”

Cobongs and the rest of the team see great value in these fellowship meals.

“It is important that the religious affairs team is visible to Airmen,” explained Cobongs. “The meals provide us the time to talk to large groups about our capabilities and how they can reach us. It is also important for commanders to know their chaplains and use them effectively.”

One of the food and fellowship events took place during the April 2023, UTA with the 908th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

The purpose of the lunch gathering was to introduce 908 AMXS members to their Religious Affairs team, and to receive some resiliency tips and tricks.

“We wanted to come share lunch with you all in an effort to get to know each other,” said Cobongs.

After some brief introductions, Simmons spoke to members about the importance of taking time to recharge.

“Taking the time to recharge is a key component of resilience,” said Simmons. “All of us need to know our signs of needing to recharge, what to look for, so when we see those signs, we can avoid burn-out.”

Simmons went on to explain that the warning signs, much like the activities or things we do to recharge, are unique to everyone.

“The signs look different for all of us, just like the things we do to recharge could be different for all of us,” explained Simmons. “Some people can meditate, some people will exercise, some people will listen to music, we are all different.”

Even with our differences and unique abilities, Simmons reminded everyone that being in the 908th is different than many other units.

“We all have a purpose, we are all here with our sense of purpose, and we all work together as a family,” closed Simmons.

The 908th Religious Affairs team is about more than just fellowship and resiliency though.

“Our key competencies are confidential counseling, unit visitation, religious accommodation, and leadership advisement,” said Cobongs. “We inspire readiness through resiliency by advertising marriage and singles retreats to enhance healthy relationships. Chaplains also provide religious rites and weddings for Reserve members at no cost. We also provide free religious literature and lead the Protestant service on base during the UTA weekend.”