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Chaplain's Recruiting Program
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Members from the 58th and 66th Rescue Squadrons pose with chaplain recruits for a group photo Feb 10. The Chaplain's Recruiting program allows individuals interested in becoming chaplains for the U.S Air Force to visit the base and experience daily operations. (U.S Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stephanie Rubi)
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Nellis hosts familiarization tour for Catholic chaplain recruits

Posted 2/15/2011   Updated 2/17/2011 Email story   Print story


by 2nd Lt. Laura Balch
Nellis Public Affairs

2/15/2011 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The Nellis Chapel hosted nine Catholic priest recruits on a week-long familiarization tour which began Feb. 7.

The tour, entitled "Come Be With Us," is run by the Air Force Recruiting Service and is held three times a year: once in Las Vegas and twice in Colorado Springs.

"The purpose of this tour is to bring in potential Air Force chaplains and, over the course of a week, help them get a feel for the Air Force," said Chaplain (Capt.) Paul Amaliri, 99th Air Base Wing Catholic chaplain.

While at Nellis, the recruited priests were taken on a tour of the base, were introduced to a variety of units and organizations, and were briefed by leadership on the Air Force, the Nellis mission and the impact of chaplains in the military.

"This familiarization tour is so important because it shows these recruited personnel what we do as chaplains in the Air Force," said Father John Kurzak, a retired Air Force colonel and the AFRS director of chaplain accessions for the Air Force Chaplains Corps. "Around 95 percent of the Catholic chaplains in the Air Force come in, not with military experience, but with a calling. This tour helps us identify the people who are able to serve the people who serve our country."

Throughout the week, the recruits heard from a number of Nellis chaplains as well as members of the community who strongly support the chaplain mission.

"Our goal is to convince these recruits to join the Air Force," said Lt. Col. Editha Heberlein, 99th Medical Support Squadron nutritional medicine flight commander. "The bottom line is that the military family needs military priests because they understand the struggles of our lifestyle."

"Military Catholic chaplains have been formative in my career and the lives of my family members," said Col. Henri Lambert, 99th Security Forces Group commander. "My family and I have moved 11 times in my 22-year career and, every time, the first place my family goes to establish a connection and to start to feel at home is mass. If you're a Catholic priest and you're looking for a place to save souls, the Air Force is it. I can't tell you enough how much it would mean if you were to join the Air Force and become part of our team."

The Air Force is at an all-time low for the number of Catholic chaplains who are serving. Currently there are 67 Catholic chaplains in the entire Air Force. Because of the shortage, there are 27 bases without a Catholic chaplain and that number is expected to climb up to 40 due to the pending retirements of a number of chaplains.

"The military is in a great time of need," said Maj. Scott Wiltz, 99th Medical Operations Squadron family physician and president of the Parish Advisory Council. "Becoming a chaplain is an opportunity for these Catholic priests to be a source of strength for others and to serve our men and women fighting overseas the most."

Anyone interested in learning more about becoming an Air Force chaplain should contact the Active Duty Chaplain Recruiting Office at 1-800-803-2452.

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