USAF CHAPLAIN ASSISTANT BADGE

The need to provide for the spiritual well-being of the men and women fighting to protect our nation has been recognized from its founding. In fact, the first military chaplaincy was established almost a full year (29 July 1775) before the country formally declared its independence in 1776. This isn’t surprising, since the freedom to worship in the religion of one’s choosing was a major impetus to establish a sovereign country, and the provision of a chaplain ensured that members of the military would not only have the right to the religion of their choice, but also have the ability to practice it.  

In the United States Air Force, the Chaplain Assistant (AFSC 5R0X1) plays an integral role in ensuring that all Airmen, regardless of their creeds or faith, are able to exercise their rights to religious freedom in both belief and practice. Unlike Chaplains, who represent the specific faith in which they are ordained, Chaplain Assistants must be willing to assist in providing religious programs and activities for all faiths. This requires them to understand and appreciate religious diversity and to implement methods of accommodating the spiritual beliefs and practices of Airmen, including management of facilities.

Chaplain Assistants work in tandem with Chaplains to form Religious Support Teams tasked with intervention counseling, with a particularly strong emphasis on suicide prevention and crisis responses. They also serve as a liaison between enlisted personnel and leadership, advising commanders and others in positions of authority on the moral, ethical, and social issues that concern Airmen and have the potential to affect and morale and combat capability.

Chaplain Assistants are awarded the Basic badge upon completion of their training at the Ira C. Eaker Center for Professional Development at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. The standard occupational requirements apply for the awarding of the Senior- and Master-level badges. On average, it takes a USAF Chaplain Assistant 16 years to reach the rank of Master Sergeant, one of the requirements of the Master-level badge.

The badge is replete with symbolism conveying the essential duties of the Chaplain Assistant. An olive wreath surrounding a shield connotes the defense of peace enabled by their delivery of Warrior Care. Open hands receiving rays of light are emblems of the desire for an awareness of the divine, and also indicate the desire to serve others in the sharing of the faith experience.

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