When potential Military Members join the United States Air Force they usually enter through one of two Gateways To The Air Force. Future officers attend college at Colorado Springs Air Force Academy and enlisted trainees go through Basic Military Training (BMT) at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas. Both places not only educate and train service members in warfare techniques they also help assimilate individuals into the Air Force culture. In the past, that culture has not always been kind to airmen of minority faiths like Paganism, but what is it like now? PNC-Minnesota spoke with Air Force officials, airmen, and civilian Pagan ministers involved at both gateways. On Tuesday we’ll take a look at the Air Force Academy. Today, on Veterans Day, we’ll head to basic training at Lackland.
“We each walk our own path to the divine. Be it in a God/dess faith or not. Our airmen coming out of Lackland have been armed in so many ways with their military training. More importantly, they should know that the Air Force has gone to great lengths to ensure their spirit was nurtured while in basic training,” says Rev. Tamie Rieth of Sacred Well Congregation. She should know. She’s been the Wicca Distinctive Faith Group Leader (DFGL) at Lackland for just over 6 years. Rev. Rieth is one of 5 instructors who lead the weekly Wiccan services for BMT trainees.
Approximately 150 to 300 trainees attend the two hour Wiccan services held in the Receiving Center each Sunday. Rev. Rieth and the other instructors spend the first hour answering any questions the trainees may have and the second hour is spent in meditation and chanting.