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Chaplains revitalize squadrons with the Bigger Picture Initiative

U.S. Air Force 20th Chaplain Corps organized a Bigger Picture Initiative program, entailing a 16-session series of lessons in various squadrons at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, throughout Nov. 2019.

U.S. Air Force 20th Chaplain Corps organized a Bigger Picture Initiative program, entailing a 16-session series of lessons in various squadrons at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, throughout Nov. 2019. This program was initiated to get Airmen to reflect on their views of life and how they go about their ultimate happiness, taught with ancient philosophers’ ideologies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --

“A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being  will never be able to throw away his life," said Viktor Frankl, in his book, "Man's Search for meaning".  "He knows the why for existence and will be able to bear almost any how.”

The 20th Fighter Wing Chaplain Corps are doing their part to revitalize squadrons by visiting and hosting luncheons, where Airmen have the opportunity to learn and discuss world philosophies. These luncheons are called the Bigger Picture Initiative.

The purpose of these conversations, according to chaplain (Maj.) Brandon Markette, 20th Fighter Wing chaplain, is to expose Airmen to different perspectives on life and invite them into a conversation about that topic. The goal is to strengthen the ethics and resolve with which Airmen abide by in their daily lives. Using a book of world philosophies, and other Airmen discussing their values, each individual will take a look at what they believe and hopefully walk away with a stronger sense of understanding in their own beliefs.

“Our role is not to preach, but give people tools and educate them on different philosophies and ideologies, so they can choose for themselves which to apply to their own life,” said Staff Sgt. Dustin Turner, 20th Fighter Wing Chaplain Corps religious affairs specialist.

The Bigger Picture Initiative is a 16 session course with different topics every week at different squadrons. Although the chaplains will visit each squadron, those who want to attend multiple luncheons are welcome.

The Bigger Picture Initiative luncheon’s discussions focus around the book, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. During the Holocaust, in the 1940s, Viktor Frankl spent three years as a prisoner. His entire family died in concentration camps, yet he found a way to find hope and meaning during a time of darkness for humankind. Frankl’s teachings and research on various philosophies are used throughout the sessions, in each course the chaplain’s facilitate.

“People often don’t realize they are leading down a certain path of stress and not going where they want to take themselves,” said Turner. “By teaching the philosophies of those such as Aristotle and Plato, we are hoping to help people realize what they want in their life and really look at the steps they need to realize their goals.”

On having 15 people in a room, Tech. Sgt. Richard Olney, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron ammunition operations technician said it invokes authentic dialogue and thought. There are so many viewpoints and beliefs in the same room bouncing ideas off each other on what their opinion of the “best life” is.

“I am very excited for the next lesson,” said Olney. “This has helped shaped my view of life and achieving happiness for myself.”

All in all, the chaplains are aware of the busy working life of TeamShaw Airmen and are using their resources to help revitalize the squadrons by coming to work centers every week and sitting down with Airmen. Squadron by squadron, week by week, Airmen are turning inwards and reflecting on where their beliefs stem from and solidifying their spiritual and mental pillars.

So far, chaplains have hosted the Bigger Picture Initiative twice in the 20th Ammo Squadron conference room, and once in the 79th Fighter Squadron.

For information on future Bigger Picture Initiative luncheons, contact the Chaplain corps 895-1106.