Q&A with the 307th Bomb Wing Chaplain

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Celeste Zuniga
  • 307th Bomb Wing

Though Capt. Robert Catts, 307th Bomb Wing chaplain, and his military family were never in one place for long during his early life, he found a lifelong home in his faith. Catts enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2004 and later joined the Air Force Reserve Command. After 11 years in the reserves, he became a chaplain to blend his faith and family patriotism into his Air Force Specialty.
Q: What prompted you to become a chaplain?
What I like about chaplaincy is that as I get to be a chaplain for all Airmen, whereas when being a pastor, you’re only a pastor to people who think like you. Whether I’m looking at a Christian, an Atheist, or a Wiccan, I’m trying to figure out how to help them with their integrity and their journey with the divine or their understanding of the divine. I get to practice a broader, holistic ministry. 
Q: What can you do for our Airmen?
The most common thing I can offer is confidentiality. When an Airman tells me something, I can’t tell anyone else what he or she said. Airmen can tell me things that they don’t feel comfortable telling their supervision. I can help you process your emotions verbally with no repercussions. We are a respectable and safe place for Airmen to talk and not have to wonder, “What’s going to happen to me?” I can also offer religious guidance; we’re facilitators for any faith group. If we can’t participate in a service, we’ll find someone who can. Lastly, I can offer open-mindedness. I care about what you believe in and want you to find your ‘why.’
Q: What do you want our Airmen to know about you?
I’m a Christian, but I think that we are all exceptionally blessed to be part of a time where we have freedom of religion. Know that what you’re going through is probably more normal than you think, and I would be more than happy to help you work through it, or at least help you figure out how to feel it out loud. It’s going to be really hard to shock me. Don’t think you’re going to get judged because you’re going through something hard; hard is normal. There are enlisted Airmen who have more life experience in certain areas than me, so feel free to come and share your stories. We can all learn from each other. On a less dramatic side, I have a wife and an adorable  1-year-old baby.     
Q: Chaplains are spiritual leaders relied upon for faith and personal guidance. What general guidance would you give to Airmen who are struggling emotionally?  
Emotions may not make it easy, but I would encourage Airmen to take the time to think. Many times we want our lives to work out right now, but that has not always been possible historically. We have so much available to us, and we’ve become accustomed to instant gratification. There is joy in suffering. Once you learn to work through complexities in life, you look at tragedies in a different way: “How will this one work itself out?” There’s a divine narrative, and you are part of the story. If life is hard for you, try to step back and look at your multi-generational growth. Think about how you are going to make yourself and the next generation better. If everyone makes what they can control a little bit better, the world also gets better for it.. You don’t have to fix the whole world; you just have to figure out which part of the world you need to fix now. Focus on what you can do today to make life more beautiful. Find peace in the fact that you don’t have to be perfect. We preach excellence in all we do, but excellence does not mean perfection.