RST brings unique capabilities to 521st AMOW

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Faith Schaefer
  • 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing
“Inspire the readiness of Airmen and their families by caring for Airmen more than anyone thinks possible”

That is the Air Force Chaplain Corps mission statement and to fulfill this mission, Religious Support Teams are formed and attached to units.

“An RST is usually a chaplain, which is an officer, and an enlisted religious affairs airman,” stated 1st Lt. Tarvick Linder, chaplain deployed in support of the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing. “They come together and work as a team to be able to provide as much religious support and as much spiritual support, ministry presence to whatever unit, whatever squadron they’re assigned to.”

Attached to the 521st AMOW, Linder partnered with TSgt Marcus Slade, religious affairs airman deployed to the 521st AMOW.

“After arriving, us coming here had a lot to do with experience gained during [Operation ALLIES WELCOME] and seeing the benefit of having an RST,” said Slade.

RSTs are assigned to units, actively engage with Airmen, advise leadership, and provide spiritual care that is sensitive to the needs of all members and their families. Spirituality is one of the Air Force’s pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness, and it is imperative that resources, like RSTs, are available to provide support in good times and in bad.

“It is the RSTs job to help Airmen and remind them of the personal importance of spiritual wellness to their overall personal wellness,” said Linder.

Linder relates resilience resources to storm preparation. The tools they provide, help Airmen get through the storm, when or if it comes.

“Spirituality energizes us to keep going and helps us make sense of our experiences, especially when times get hard,” said Maj. Gen. Steven A. Schaick, Air Force chief of chaplains in a message on the Department of the Air Force resilience website. “Like trying to navigate a new city without a GPS, we may eventually be able to figure it out, but having a good GPS in the car sure makes the drive a lot smoother. So it is with maintaining a healthy spirituality, which helps to ground us and guide us as we navigate toward our life's purpose.”

Linder describes being a part of an RST as a unique and an exciting experience.

“Sometimes chaplains, we can get kind of focused on being the sole provider for pastoral care,” said Linder. “But to have an RST partner that has the same amount of desire, the same amount of energy, it exponentially changes the amount of coverage, the amount of effect that we can have on any unit.”

While each religious affairs airman and chaplain have their respective training, they still provide the same standard of care to Airmen. Slade expressed that each RST brings a unique set of skills and dynamics to units.

“What [each RST] is able to do and who [they] are able to reach may be completely different,” said Slade. “Always explore your RST, ask them their skillsets, and ask them what they can do for you. Often times, you’d be surprised that they are not a one-size-fits-all and they are a very dynamic group of people.”

Airmen and leaders who interacted with the deployed RST were grateful for their rapid response and commitment to the mission.

“When operations began to pick up in the European theater earlier this year, the wing reflected on our experience during Operations ALLIES REFUGE and knew that step one was to request additional resilience support for our Airmen,” said Col. Adrienne Williams, 521st AMOW commander. “Taking care of Airmen is always at the forefront of our minds when schedules and flightlines are busier than normal. RSTs are a valuable tool to make sure we’re giving members what they need to stay ready through spiritual fitness.”

The 521st AMOW provides en route maintenance, command and control, and air transportation services in support of U.S. Transportation Command taskings in the European Command, Central Command and Africa Command areas of responsibility. The wing is comprised of ten squadrons at 19 different locations with the wing headquarters located on Ramstein AB, Germany.