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Beale wins AF medium chapel of the year

The Beale Air Force Base chapel staff poses for a group photo Feb. 16 after the National Prayer luncheon at the Recce Point Club. Beale was named the 2011 Air Force Medium Chapel of the year after winning the award at the Air Combat Command level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shawn Nickel)

The Beale Air Force Base chapel staff poses for a group photo Feb. 16 after the National Prayer luncheon at the Recce Point Club. Beale was named the 2011 Air Force Medium Chapel of the year after winning the award at the Air Combat Command level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shawn Nickel)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., -- Beale was named the 2011 Air Force Medium Chapel of the year after winning the award at the Air Combat Command level.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) George Youstra, 9th Reconnaissance Wing command chaplain, said the win was mostly earned because of the entire chapel staff's willingness to follow the priority of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, taking care of Airmen and their families.

"The chaplaincy validates itself through that vision," he said. "It's the things we do to pour ourselves into the Airmen that sets us apart."

In addition to the traditional roles of being spiritual leaders for Beale, Youstra said the chapel staff leads several successful programs including marriage retreats, confidential counseling, Warrior Care events, singles support and Dorm Dwellers Dinners.

More than 400 couples from here participated in the marriage retreats, which accounts for more than a quarter of the retreats in the entire Air Force.

"Many Airmen at Beale are deployed in place or have very demanding work lives," he said. "These things can take a toll on marriage and we like to provide the tools to help Airmen be successful in their relationship."

The chapel's top enlisted chaplain assistant, Master Sgt. Carl Wiley said the biggest challenge for them is meeting the growing needs for counseling and care to an increasing number of Airmen while chaplain personnel are deployed or in transition between bases.

"We overcome these challenges through harmonious relationships with other helping agencies," he said. "We constantly evaluate the impact of our programs, which allows us to focus our resources on the most needed areas."

Although the chapel is the top in the Air Force, Youstra and Wiley agree there is always room for improvement.

"There are things we are always doing to improve our efficiencies," said Youstra. "We will continue to strive for excellence providing confidential counseling, warrior care, religious services and instruction, ministries and everything else we do. Prioritizing what we do will help us keep things going and stay in line with our commander's priorities."