CRW receives first dedicated religious team

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sarah Brice
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The 621st Contingency Response Wing recently welcomed two new Airmen, whose purpose is to support the pillar of spiritual resiliency for Devil Raiders.

The duo is known as a religious support team, and their mission is to provide support, which comes in the form of crisis counseling, family-related counseling, morale-building events, among other capabilities.

“A lot of what we do is let people talk and let them be heard,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Mark Edelstein, 621st CRW chaplain. “We bring 100 percent confidentiality; there are no exceptions.”

The job of the RST is specialized in its requirements. The members were selected for the CRW based on their deployment experience, marriage and family background, and the ability to work in a high-operations tempo, which falls in line with the wing's constant exercises, real-world response operations and global partnership exchanges.

“It’s all about being an embedded RST so we can be available just to the 621st CRW,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eulalia Gomez, 621st CRW religious affairs specialist.

Prior to the RST’s arrival, chaplains from the host wings at Travis Air Force Base, California, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, had to fill in to provide occasional support for Devil Raider Airmen. With this new team arises a new capacity for spiritual wellness as the RST plans to travel with CR Airmen on their missions. In the month of March, the RST – currently residing at JBMDL – will fly to Travis AFB to visit the Airmen, and provide support during a Joint Readiness Training Center exercise at the Alexandria International Airport in Louisiana. They will conclude the month by observing how Devil Raiders operate during Exercise Turbo Distribution in Mississippi.

“We definitely hit the ground running,” said Gomez about how busy the RST is. “I feel already that the need [for us] is there.”

The Religious Support Team is currently a one-year, full-time position recruited through the Air Force Reserve Command with the goal of creating a more permanent position within the 621st CRW on Travis AFB and JBMDL.