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Chaplain candidate: 'I do it for the Airmen'

2nd Lt. Scot Kerns, 460th Space Wing chaplain candidate, holds a bible after giving his invocation at the Memorial Day event May 26, 2014, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Giving invocations before events and ceremonies is only one of the many duties of a chaplain candidate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Emily E. Amyotte/Released)

2nd Lt. Scot Kerns, 460th Space Wing chaplain candidate, holds a bible after giving his invocation at the Memorial Day event May 26, 2014, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Giving invocations before events and ceremonies is only one of the many duties of a chaplain candidate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Emily E. Amyotte/Released)

2nd Lt. Scot Kerns, 460th Chaplain Candidate

2nd Lt. Scot Kerns, 460th Chaplain Candidate

2nd Lt. Scot Kerns, 460th Space Wing chaplain candidate, gives his invocation during the Memorial Day event May 26, 2014, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Giving invocations before events and ceremonies is only one of the many duties of a chaplain candidate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Emily E. Amyotte/Released)

2nd Lt. Scot Kerns, 460th Space Wing chaplain candidate, gives his invocation during the Memorial Day event May 26, 2014, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Giving invocations before events and ceremonies is only one of the many duties of a chaplain candidate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Emily E. Amyotte/Released)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- For Airmen aspiring to become chaplains, it takes a lot of time and effort, but it also takes much more than that. It takes their dedication to the men and women in uniform and 2nd Lt. Scot Kerns, 460th Space Wing chaplain candidate, can attest to that.

Kerns was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois in a Lutheran home as an only child.

His time at the Air Force Academy opened his eyes to the need for someone to turn to for guidance during basic training and the daily stresses of being in the military.

"Starting during basic training you have those questions of identity, security, meaning and purpose," Kerns said. "Like, 'who are you?' and 'where are you going?' You realize that, guess what -- you're not in control. Something is over you and generally that brings people back. They begin to think, 'maybe I need to see if there's something out there with meaning and purpose.' And I want to be who they can turn to find the Holy."

Kerns had previously been a pastor at St. Paul's Lutheran church near the small town of Lincoln, Kansas.

When asked the biggest difference in his transition from being a civilian pastor to a military chaplain candidate, he recalled other than the demographic; it's the change of pace.

"As a sole pastor out in the-middle-of-nowhere Kansas," explained the chaplain candidate. "I am it; the buck stops with me. Whereas in the military, we're a team - a chapel team, and learning how to understand the dynamics, and working with both enlisted and officers is quite the experience."

Becoming a chaplain is not a quick and easy task, it takes much more than what people realize, the Buckley chapel staff agreed.

On top of the required four-year bachelor's degree he received from Concordia University of Chicago, Kerns also had four years of education at Concordia Theological Seminary, equaling a total of almost a decade of post-secondary schooling.

During his religious leadership experience, Kerns said there's the spiritual aspect of going to seminary where he performed field work for his first two years, then again for his fourth. In his third year he went to vicarage, which is an internship under a pastor, similar to the structure of which he is currently a part at Buckley's chapel.

Kern's path is similar to what all other chaplain candidates have gone through to earn the title of 'chaplain'; to include going to a five-week Commissioned Officers Training, a two-week Chaplain Candidate Course, and two five-week Chaplain Candidate Intensive Internship Tours. His supervisor, Chaplain (Capt.) Joseph Eggleston, 460th Space Wing Protestant Chaplain, explained that he had a similar experience and hopes to share his knowledge with Kerns.

"Being his supervisor is a good opportunity to give something back and help somebody else who is doing the exact same thing I was six or seven years ago," Eggleston said. "Hopefully, I'm providing some good leadership and guidance for the next generation."

When it comes down to it, Kerns' dedication to helping people is what shines through here at Buckley on his fifth five-week Chaplain Candidate Intensive Internship Tour.

"It's hard not to think about what a privilege it is to serve the men and women in uniform," Kerns said. "I want to be with people in their darkest times and happiest times; nothing else. I do it for the Airmen and their families."
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