Life in the military can be difficult. With current health guidelines in place for Navy personnel, Sailors’ everyday lives have changed drastically. Many of the things Sailors have become accustomed to on a daily basis are no longer available. This can be overwhelming for some service members.
The Navy recognizes these challenges and has many resources available. Some of the available resources are the Naval Air Station Oceana and Dam Neck Annex Chapels. Although they have had to adjust to the new requirements, they are still open for business and are providing spiritual care for both communities.
One of the services the chapel is still offering is individual counseling. One thing Sailors may not know about Navy chaplains is their professional obligation to absolute confidentiality. Sailors can rest assured they are able to speak freely about anything that might be on their minds to any Navy chaplain.
Lt. Timothy Lee, Naval Air Station Oceana chaplain and division officer, said the toll of social isolation impacts a Sailor’s personal, mental and spiritual health and it’s the job of the Chapel to help these Sailors through difficult times.
“The Navy has given chaplains a sacred trust of providing religious worship services and maintaining confidentiality through difficult times,” said Lee. “The services offered by the religious ministries team has proven time and time again to be a substantial force for good morale. Providing worship services and our other RMT services is our primary way of combatting the issues a Sailor may be facing.”
Religious Program Specialist 1st Class Matthew Timper, Naval Air Station Oceana religious ministries department leading petty officer, said taking proper health and safety precautions allows the RMT to continue to provide counseling for those in need.
“We still offer religious and non-religious counseling in person,” said Timper. “We take a lot of precautions, practice social distancing, and follow all the mandated requirements to provide counseling for those who are looking for in-person counseling. Also, if the person isn’t comfortable with meeting in person, the chaplains are also available to provide online video counseling and will also provide counseling over the telephone.”
Along with their religious and non-religious counseling, the chapel is offering their suicide prevention training and classes. Due to size and venue restriction of classes, Sailors can contact the chapel to inquire about dates, times, and locations of upcoming classes.
“We still offer ASIST and safe TALK for suicide prevention, however it has changed a lot because of the pandemic,” said Timper, referring to the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training and Suicide Alertness for Everyone classes. “The dynamic of the classes has changed a little bit because the class room size has to be drastically smaller, so it does make the classes a little bit more personal when you’re teaching about suicide and other topics like that.”
In addition to suicide prevention classes and training, the chapel is still holding in-person religious services and is live-streaming some of their services through social media. Community members interested in attending services or viewing them online are asked to contact the chapel to receive up-to-date information about the specific times and days of different in-person or online religious services.
“We are currently providing religious services for those who want to come in-person, but we are also live streaming some of our services online,” said Timper. “Even with the restrictions, we have plenty of space for more people to attend services. Individuals attending the service will be require to sit six feet apart from each other. Families are able to sit next to each other when they attend one of our services.”
Naval Air Station Oceana and Dam Neck Annex Chapels are open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and are available by phone at (757) 433-2871. If you are in need of services from the chapel after working hours, please call the regional duty chaplain, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at (757) 438-3822.
To keep up with the latest news from Naval Air Station Oceana and Dam Neck Annex Chapel, community members can check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/oceanadamneckannexchapel/.