The leadership of the 412th Test Wing announced a partnership with the Civil Air Patrol to provide more chaplains to the Wing and to test a new virtual reality-based advisory platform at Edwards Air Force Base, in California, September 10.
“At Edwards, we’re testing planes and equipment, and now we’re going to test chaplains and software,” said Col. Randel Gordon, vice-commander of 412 TW.
Gordon met with leaders of the California Wing of CAP to mark the announcement. The partnership is a test program the two organizations hope to replicate between other Air Force bases and CAP Wings to illustrate the concept of “total force.”
“When this happened I was like ‘Wow’ I never even imagined we could do this,” said Gordon, a former CPA member himself. “I thought it was working really well. When we say “total strength” we really mean… it’s the same thing, all the way through.
The partnership allows the CAP to provide their chaplains to the base. As an auxiliary to the air force, the CAP provides emergency service support to local and national agencies. The CAP also offers opportunities for aerospace education and cadet programs.
“What’s really unique about this is on the chaplain’s side; it’s a human design we’ve never done before, ”said Major Michael Morison, California Wing Chaplain, CAP. “Several chaplains integrated into the RSP (Religious Support Plan) and software side, by providing new pastoral software; we’re really excited to be a part of it all.
The current wing chaplains are delighted that the partnership is increasing their staff. Chaplain allocations are based on the number of Airmen in uniform at a facility, regardless of the number of civilians assigned to them, according to Captain Wilson Joa Yu, a chaplain with the 412th TW.
Joa Yu added that the new partnership will also benefit chaplains professionally.
“What I look forward to is to glean their experience in exercising their ministry while serving members of the Civilian Air Patrol,” said Joa Yu.
The newly announced pastoral software will allow Airmen and civilians to access their chaplains from anywhere and anonymously if they choose. The software platform is developed by Even Health and is called “Third Room”. The platform is a virtual space using virtual reality to provide on-demand spiritual and non-spiritual counseling and experiences in prayer, meditation and mental resilience training, according to David Black, co-founder and CEO of Even Health. Additionally, it is also able to provide users to chaplains in an anonymous environment using on-screen avatars.
Black was on hand to provide training for the third room. Even Health’s involvement started as an AFWERX Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project and has now entered the testing phase.
“They wanted to bring this new initiative, launch something new and test it and so being a part of that is exciting,” said Captain Annamae Taubeneck, 10 Squadron chaplain, CAWG, CAP, and also one of the new Edwards AFB. alternate chaplain.
“What better place to test it than Edwards?” I mean this is the proving ground for the entire Air Force, this is the place to be, ”Taubeneck said.