RAF MILDENHALL, England --
The battle against COVID-19 has brought new challenges into daily life for RAF Mildenhall Airmen, their families, civilians and the community as a whole.
To help cope with additional stresses and uncertainty in these times, the RAF Mildenhall Chaplain Corps has continued to provide spiritual guidance through various virtual platforms.
“This pandemic has physically disconnected us from one another, but I believe this situation has increased our ability to reach even more individuals, because although we’re not meeting face-to-face, we’ve been able to successfully move to virtual avenues,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Matt Brantley, 100th Air Refueling Wing chaplain.
“This time has allowed many of us to practice self-reflection, which is a way to begin the process of seeking guidance. People are given the time to say, ‘I need advice from someone with more knowledge and experience,’ and of course our team is always ready to provide help.”
Alongside daily meetings, the Chaplain Corps is working hard to maintain normalcy by hosting religious services online to help those seeking guidance and wisdom.
“Sunday Services are broadcasted on our Facebook page at 11 a.m.,” said the chaplain. “For our Catholic community, the RAF Lakenheath ‘Our Lady of the Sky’ Facebook page hosts services on Sundays at 8:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., and during the week, mass is held at 11:30 a.m. We’re here for you, just in a whole new way, but our team still wants to provide extraordinary spiritual guidance for those who seek it.”
Whether it’s balancing work and life, PCS movements, grieving the loss of loved ones or everyday stress, Brantley says focusing on the here and now is key to overcoming obstacles.
“Don’t lose focus on the present,” Brantley said. “We can turn our struggles into successes and it’s time for us to find the positive in what we’re dealing with. Physical distancing is tough, as we all know, but let’s find comfort in knowing we’re not putting ourselves at risk of furthering the death and pain so many have gone through already.”
Even with continuing COVID-19 challenges, Brantley sees this as an opportunity to rekindle relationships and to put focus back on items that have been put to the side.
“I’m looking at it as ‘cleaning house’,” Brantley said. “Individuals are given an excellent chance to spend more time with spouses or significant others, kids, friends and prioritize those things which have been laid dormant.”
“COVID-19 has allowed people to hone in on those things that they do best --- cooking, reading, education, self-reflection --- or open new doors and opportunities many people have had their eyes on.”
Virtual spiritual guidance could become a part of the new normal according to Brantley, but he says as long as our community remains resilient and sticks together, they’ll make it through to the other side.
“If we come together, we can accomplish great things in these tumultuous times,” he said. “As we see day-to-day, it takes the entire base community to get the mission done, and right now it’s to defeat this virus. My hope is that we continue to join together to survive and do what we need to do in order to fly, fight and win – against our adversaries and COVID-19.”