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MAF a Month program brings Airmen in the field a little closer to home

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Airmen who work in the missile field have a challenging career. Most times, in order to perform their jobs, these men and women must deploy to the field for more than five days at a time. The hours can be long and the workload heavy, but it is a necessary sacrifice in order to protect the systems Malmstrom Air Force Base has in place, which in turn, protect the American people.

The Chapel's "Missile Alert Facility a Month" program aims to close the gap between the solitude of life in the field and the comforts of home that Airmen need and work hard to defend. The program, which according to Malmstrom's chaplains has been a great success, was designed by the Chapel Corps as a way to bring Airmen an outlet while locally deployed.

This outlet is a team, usually comprised of a chaplain and chaplain assistant, who drive out to the MAFs and spend time with the Airmen. Visits to the MAFs can encompass everything from a simple hello or how are you doing, to much more personal conversations for people 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, 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.

"The program is titled 'MAF a Month,' but in reality every one of the 15 MAFs are visited by a chaplain during the course of the month," he said. "Often times, we even get the chance to visit almost all of them twice during that time frame. 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'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 to Malmstrom, 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, 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 MAF a Month 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, 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."

For more information on the MAF a Month program, contact the chapel at 731-3721.