MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
He was only 12 years old when he told his mother he wanted to kill himself. Running with the wrong crowd and living a destructive lifestyle had taken its toll. By the time he turned 19, he was on his way for the last haircut of his life.
“I was going to get a haircut so that I would look good for the casket,” said Capt. Jason D. Raines, 5th Bomb Wing chaplain.
While Raines was there, he noticed a woman who was a nail stylist and asked the person who was cutting his hair to set him up with her.
To this day, I wholly believe she, by the grace of God, saved my life,” said Raines. “Had it not been for her, I would not be here today.”
Soon after they married, Raines learned his wife was pregnant. Knowing he needed to support his wife and child, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. That’s when he first started to take interest in religion.
“Basic training wasn’t the easiest environment to deal with stress,” said Raines. “The first Sunday I went to chapel, there was a protestant service. I gave my life to Christ. Being so new to me, I had no idea what I was getting into.”
After basic training, Raines went to Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. as a satellite wideband and telemetry technician. However, he was soon sent to South Korea as a tactical wideband technician. It was there that he started to realize his call to military ministry.
“When I got to South Korea I noticed a lot of bad things,” said Raines. “I felt those behaviors were not conducive with the Christian way of life. It really made me sad and I wondered where was the person who was supposed to bring morale.”
After giving it thought, Raines realized he could be that person by becoming a military chaplain.
“Early on in my time as a chaplain, my whole goal was to get out and know everybody,” said Raines. “At my first assignment there were about 1,400 active duty personnel, and I probably knew 70 percent of the base by first name.”
Raines said knowing people is the “bread and butter” of being a chaplain. Meeting people, letting people know what chaplains do and becoming a resource for them is all part of his mission.
“It really boils down to how you interact with the Airmen that are in front of you,” said Raines.
Raines said, being a chaplain is rewarding, but it takes a strong mental and emotional mindset to deal with the unexpected.
“I’ve had experiences that I have never dealt with,” Raines began. “But, I always look for a way to empathize with anyone who comes through my door.”
Raines turned his life around from nothing into helping and taking care of people. He considers himself a guide toward helping and providing for people, whether they are religious or not.
“Allowing somebody to learn something new, or experience something new, all those things provide people with hope and purpose,” said Raines. “It’s really strengthened that my value system is what it is. It’s what we bring to the fight as chaplains, being that person that gives people hope, care and concern in times of calm and crisis.”