Chaplain Chief: 107,000 Reasons to Serve

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. - (Sept. 25, 2010) -- Les Hyder has 107,000 reasons to serve in the Air National Guard.
Chaplain (Col.) Hyder serves as the director of the ANG's chaplain corps, overseeing the approximately 300 chaplains and 300 chaplain assistants who serve in the ANG. But it isn't just the chaplains and their assistants that Hyder feels a responsibility for.
"Our 107,000 Airmen in the Guard and their families have really stepped up, particularly over the last decade or so. And I believe that our chaplains are making a big, big difference in their lives," Hyder said during a recent visit to the 127th Wing, Selfridge Air National Guard Base.
Hyder was invited to visit by the Wing chaplains to attend the base's Family Day activities during the September Unit Training Assembly. Hyder said he also wanted to get a first-hand look at the operations of the Selfridge Base Chapel, which is unique in the Air National Guard in that it is run by a civilian ministry group and is the only chapel that is part of a Guard Wing.
Hyder, who previously served as a chaplain in the California Air National Guard, has served as the director of the ANG chaplain corps for about two years. He reported during his visit at Selfridge that the Guard's chaplain corps is now at approximately 100 percent of national manpower requirements, up from as low as 82 percent just a few years ago.
"There are a few openings here and there, but we have worked hard to recruit quality chaplains into our service," he said.
Hyder also:
· Said in the first 30 days of a new suicide prevention outreach program operated by the chaplain corps, there were no reported suicides in the ANG. "It is hard to quantify it exactly, but I firmly believe that this program has saved some lives because of the intervention of our chaplains and chaplain assistants," he said.
· Reported that the ANG will increase spending from $2.5 million last year to $4 million in Fiscal Year 2011 to support the Strong Bonds program, which provides retreats and related programs designed at strengthening marriages and other family bonds, which can be strained by deployments and other military duties.
In addition to the long-standing motto of "Always Ready, Always There" that has applied to the ANG for years, Hyder said he adds a third component for the chaplain corps: "Always a Servant."
"A chaplain who has a true servant's heart will love the people and the people will love them. That's when true ministry can be done. If you come into this work without a true servant's heart, you won't last long," he said.
With more than 33 years of uniformed service, Hyder said he feels a call to continue to serve.
"If you ride one C-17 rotator back with me from Iraq to Germany with some of our wounded people, that will change your life forever. That's what keeps you going," Hyder said