Tech. Sgt. Patel recognized as Air National Guard chaplain's assistant of the year

  • Published
  • By A1C Morgan Lipinski
  • 128th Air Refueling Wing
Promoting resiliency and providing support is his job, but sincere interest in his fellow airmen's well-being is his passion. Tech. Sgt. Gautambhai S. Patel is a chaplain's assistant for the Religious Support Team here at the 128th Air Refueling Wing. He has devoted countless hours to enhancing the lives of 128 ARW airmen to ensure they have the support they need to be efficient in their daily lives.

In recognition for his efforts, Patel was awarded the 2014 Air National Guard Chaplain's Assistant of the Year Award.

Patel has served in the U.S. military for 19 years, with three of those years being here at the 128 ARW. In his civilian life, Patel is a police officer for the Chicago Police Department.

Patel explained that his job as a chaplain's assistant can be challenging, but rewarding.

"My job is to be there for airmen and give them the tools they need to balance their military and civilian lives," said Patel. "When that balance is there, there is happiness."

A chaplain's assistant is responsible for coordinating and performing self-improvement and relationship seminars, assisting in religious services, standing for religious rights, providing confidential counseling, and offering options to airmen in need.

Patel said that it takes a distinct type of person to be a chaplain's assistant. Patience, schedule flexibility, and sincere care for other airmen are a few traits he described as necessary for a chaplain's assistant to have.

Patel also explained that a chaplain's assistant must be able to adapt to a variety of work environments. Recalling his deployment to Al Udied Air Base, Qatar, Patel said that he actively tried to get involved in the airmen's lives by visiting them in their work places and learning about their personal lives.

"The key is to get to know the people in your unit," said Patel. "Simply asking how someone is doing can make their day."

Chaplain's assistants follow their airmen on deployments in order to continue their duties outside the home front.

"People leave their families behind when they deploy and that can be tough," said Patel. "Being in a new place with new people is stressful. Helping the airmen deal with that is what we are for. We are here for support."

Outside of his duties as chaplain's assistant, Patel also found time to volunteer his services during annual military training at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to help coordinate, transport, and execute humanitarian relief.

Because of his dedication to his work and passion for helping others, Patel was announced the 2014 Air National Guard Chaplain's Assistant of the Year. Patel said he was shocked upon hearing of his national recognition and felt humbled.

"I'm honored to have been selected for this award," said Patel. "My hard work paid off, but I couldn't have done it without the help of my fellow airmen."