Looking Back On 532 As Humanist Services Pass 1000

Editors note: Humanist Services are regularly over 1000 every weekend at Air Force Basic Training. This is an unpublished article written last June. As growth continues, we thought it would be interesting to look back at the excitement when numbers were barely half what they are now.

Guest post by Vicki Gettman, organizer

532 trainees attended the Atheist Humanist meetings on Lackland Air Force Base last week.

It is still hard to believe that statement is real and accurate. In May 2013 I was asked to meet with one trainee on Lackland AFB to provide Humanist support. It was going to be me, a friend and two trainees (two because everybody needs a wingman). We set up a meeting. July 2013 was the first meeting with 8 trainees in a lobby near the Buddhist service. I believed that the meeting would only last a few weeks. He was already in his third week of training and there are a total of 8 weeks. I could definitely volunteer 5 Sundays to help bring support to Atheist and Humanist trainees. But after 5 weeks when the original trainees graduated, trainees continued to show up.

From that day, June 5, 2016, as Reason Rally 2 had just completed

Relatively quickly, we gained 50 trainees and needed a new location. We moved behind a stage curtain and had our meeting in back while the Catholics had their meeting in the front of the stage. We continued to grow. After reaching 100 trainees we moved to our current location. The command continued to accommodate our growth. And as volunteers, we committed that as long as trainees showed up, so would we. I have only missed 4 Sundays in nearly 3 years.

The original have moved one and there are 3 incredible ‘wingmen’ in their place. They have improved our Socratic style meeting and have taken complete advantage of the equipment that has finally been shared with us. When we first started in community center, we were denied use of the PA system and the projector. We are allowed to use both now. We show Ted Talks and appropriate YouTube videos and keep the trainees up to date on science, nerd news and headlines.

This meeting is a huge inspiration in my life. It demonstrates to me that our world is changing, These trainees are diverse in so many ways: age, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, education and religion. They encourage each other. They are eager to learn about politics and are educated on the process. It is a privilege and honor to be able to share my Sunday mornings with the trainees on Lackland.

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