Chaplain office hosts resiliency event

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Christopher Carranza
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

The 403rd Wing’s Chaplain Office hosted a Night of Worship, with special guest speaker Luis Rivera, The Mighty Oaks Operations manager and U.S. Navy SEAL retired, Oct. 14, at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi.

The message of the evening service focused on hope and passing it on to others who may be struggling in their life.

“Hope is such a strong word in the English language that we take for granted,” said 403rd Wing Chaplain (Maj.) Torrey Garrison. “But when you look at hope, you realize it gives you the reason for tomorrow.”

Guest speaker Rivera, Senior Chief Petty Officer retired, spoke about his career, life, and experiences during the service.

“I’m very privileged to be here tonight and share my struggles and finding hope,” said Rivera. “As we all know, life is complicated and can go sideways, but there is always hope no matter how dark the path may seem.”

He said his daughter was addicted to heavy drugs, and it was his responsibility to be there for her and get her the help she needed, which also became the turning point in his life to seek help for his post-traumatic stress.

“After 24 years of service, I retired from the military, and I thought things were OK and was planning on getting another job,” said Rivera. “Six months into a nine-month trade school, my eldest daughter called me because she was kicked out of her home. I felt that all of my decisions in life caused what she was going through.”

Rivera said that he and his daughter spent nine days in a hotel as she went through withdrawal. They spent it in a hotel because he and his wife’s relationship was strained on top of everything else.

“I’ve experienced many hard things throughout my military career, but those nine days watching my daughter was the hardest thing in my life,” he said.

After nine days, he took his daughter to get help. He then sought help through Veteran Affairs programs and various therapies until he was referred to The Mighty Oaks Foundation.

The Mighty Oaks Foundation is a faith-based veteran service organization that teaches combat veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress how to get beyond combat trauma and live their lives.

Upon completing their warrior program, Rivera said he has found a new purpose by serving others through his passion for Jesus Christ as a witness to those who have struggled with similar challenges such as PTSD and life trauma.

Working hand in hand, the 403rd Wing chaplains help promote the spiritual well-being of approximately 1,500 Reserve Citizen Airmen.

“We promote religious freedom, and what we want to do is be there for people,” said Garrison. “When you have events like this, it is good to show the community and the 403rd that the Chapel Corps is here and wants to walk beside you. And regardless of what is happening in life, the Chapel Corps want to be a part of it. We may not agree with everything in theology, but we all agree that hope propels us into the next day.”