TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Being selected as the top in your career field for the Air Force is an amazing accomplishment. Recently, the Chapel Team at Travis AFB won the Charles I. Carpenter award which recognizes the best large chapel team in the AF. The award is named after Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Charles I. Carpenter, who was the first chief of Air Force chaplains, serving from Aug. 1949 to Aug. 1958.
Winning the award validates the exceptional services the chapel team provides to Travis. Maj. Todd Leathermon, 60th Air Mobility Wing, deputy wing chaplain says this is a total team effort.
“The team we have is extraordinary,” said Leathermon. “The amount of work being done year after year has a profound impact on the base and local community.”
Despite having one-third of the chaplains deployed during the award period, the team still managed to provide the same services and programs. One of those programs is the Clinical Pastoral Education program, which is the only one offered in Air Mobility Command. Last year, 28 students graduated from the program accumulating more than 8,400 hours of training time.
“Our CPE program is the only one in AMC and prepares individuals to be chaplains in a hospital setting,” said Leathermon. “It’s a 10-month program for students already enrolled in seminary or ministry.”
Taking care of the warfighters who perform the mission is the number one priority for the chapel team. They do this by sponsoring events, putting on support programs and being on location in the units speaking with Airmen face-to-face.
It’s very easy for Airmen to focus on the mission while ignoring their own needs or problems they may be dealing with, he said.
“The operations tempo is so high here and there’s an enormous expectation for success,” said Leathermon. “Those expectations bring stress and pressure, so if things in your life are adding to those pressures, it makes things much tougher.”
When the chapel team received feedback from the community action plan that not enough financial planning was being provided to families, they took immediate action. Their creation of the “Financial Peace” course helped Travis families manage their money more efficiently.
“One of the community action plan priorities was to help families with their finances,” said Leathermon. “We had 32 families to participate and collectively paid off over $280,000 in debt and they saved over $129,000.”
One of the ways chaplains get out to see Airmen is by providing meals for dormitory residents every Tuesday night. The Peak is a centralized café located within the dormitory campus that provides a place for Airmen to relax and socialize.
“We hosted 324 airmen events mostly though our Airmen Ministry Center, the Peak.” said Leathermon. “Providing home-cooked meals to our single Airmen in the dorms has had a huge impact on their morale.”
These meals are a welcomed sight for Airmen living in the dorms who, for one night, have another option from the dining facility. For Airman 1st Class Alyssa Palomares, 60th Medical Support Squadron admissions technician, the meals bring Airmen together in an inviting atmosphere.
“I love it, I’ve been to many dinners here at the Peak,” said Palomares. “My friends and I hang out and we get an outstanding meal. “It has a huge impact on us dorm residents.”
Other accomplishments that helped garner the best large chapel team in the AF award include hosting marriage events for 116 Travis couples, sponsoring 700 kids for vacation bible school and their first block party that attracted more than 2,200 participants.
“If you don’t have programs like this in place, it’s tough to do your job,” said Leathermon. “We’re trying to get Airmen to be proud to have that connectivity with one another again.”
Although awards are nice, their success is not predicated on hardware but rather is measured on the service they provide the people of Travis. The chapel team is committed to ensuring that Travis Airmen and their families are taken care of by working as a team to come up with new and inviting ways to improve what they’ve already built upon.
“Travis is such a huge base you have to dream big with a ‘wow’ factor,” said Leathermon. “Providing for the Travis community whether they are people of faith or not is a priority here.”