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First Airman Resilience Center opens at Altus AFB

by Senior Airman Kenneth W. Norman
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

7/12/2013 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- A new Airman Resilience Center opened its doors during a ribbon cutting ceremony here July 11.

The ARC is the first facility of its kind at the base.

'The ARC includes five classrooms for training use, a theater room, a game room and an electronic gaming area,' said Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Mathe, the 97th Air Mobility Wing NCO in charge of chapel operations. 'It also includes an interfaith chapel and religious education classrooms for students of all ages. Airmen and their dependents will greatly appreciate the addition of the newly renovated Airman's Attic and food pantry. These areas help sustain our base populace through the challenges of permanent change of stations, furloughs and personal tragedies like those experienced recently by members of our community in the apartment fire.'

The ARC was the vision of Mathe and Maj. Trent Davis, the 97th AMW chaplain.

'We attended the Air Education and Training Command Chaplain Corps resilience training conference, and during a long car ride home the concept of an ARC arose,' Mathe said. 'The focus of our current Airman Ministry Center seemed too small in our current cost-conscious culture. Adding in the Airman's Attic, food pantry, and creating an open environment where Airmen, units, and other base organizations could utilize the ARC's tremendous resources seemed vital to our vision of creating a stronger and more resilient force.'

Volunteers spent two weeks helping to make the ARC a viable resource for the entire Altus AFB community, Mathe said.

'A handful of Airmen and family members worked 16-hour days transporting supplies, reorganizing supply closets and the Airman's Attic, and moving furniture,' Mathe said. 'The Airman's Attic and Airman's Ministry Center have never been more accessible and welcoming to the Altus AFB community.'

The ARC is open to all base members and their families.

'The Airman's Attic is organized to assist Airmen, technical sergeants and below,' Mathe said. 'The Airman's Ministry Center is open nightly and on weekends as a resource to assist all single Airmen, senior airman and below including our student Airmen, to help build community and support. The food pantry is available to any Airman, civilian, military or family member who may benefit from immediate subsistence. Finally, the ARC is provided to the entire base populace to encourage better fitness in the four areas of resilience: mental, social, physical and spiritual.'

According to Mathe, the ARC houses the Airman's Ministry Center, which supports more than 1,800 students annually through monthly dinners, trips, group studies and community service outings. It is also the center of religious education for both the Catholic and Protestant communities, supporting more than 800 classes and 3,400 people each year.

'The base chapel is committed to supporting the quality of life and readiness of our Airmen, students, dependents and deployers,' Mathe said. 'With the opening of the Airman's Attic and base food pantry, we hope to encourage even more Airmen as life throws them a curve. We believe that by continuously improving fitness in the four areas of resilience, Airmen and their family members reduce the feelings of hopelessness and despair that sometime arise and become healthier, happier, more resilient members better equipped to deal with the rigors of 21st century military life.'

All base members are encouraged to visit the ARC and see what it has to offer.

'It is our hope that organizations and units across the base will want to utilize the ARC for social and training events,' Mathe said.

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