An advocate for the separation of church and state in the military has objected to an Air Force news release about a reservist's church-organized humanitarian mission, and the Air Force Reserve Command is reviewing the release.
AFRC on Jan. 23 posted a release from the 433rd Airlift Wing's public affairs office on Senior Master Sgt. Larry Gallo's nine-day trip to Guatemala in last December as part of the T.I.M.E. for Christ Medical Ministries.
Gallo, a maintenance support section chief at the 433rd Logistics Readiness Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas, wherehis wife and daughters, and other volunteers helped provide medical treatment to more than 720 patients from three villages, San Raimundo, Guachipulin and El Chol in mid-central Guatemala, according to the release. His two daughters served as physician assistants, the release said, and the team also included two registered nurses, two dentists, a pastor ,and a support crew.
But Col. Robert Palmer, director of public affairs for AFRC, said the Military Religious Freedom Foundation objected to the releasequote Palmer?. After MRFF raised its objections, an editor's note appeared on the release.
"Air Force Reserve Command has received complaints about this article on the basis that it could reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief or absence of belief," the editor's note said. "Air Force Reserve Command is currently reviewing the article to determine if it is consistent with Air Force standards."
MRFF President Mikey Weinstein declined to comment to Air Force Times.
Col. Robert Palmer, director of public affairs for AFRC, confirmed that MRFF filed the complaint. He said the release is currently being reviewed by AFRC's chain of command, which is soliciting information from the chaplain, public affairs, and judge advocate general offices.
The release said Gallo, his family, and the team helped patients with lacerations, knee injections, wound cleaning, abscess removals and drains, stitches, scabies detoxing, ear washes, high blood pressure treatments, diabetes, and urinary tract infections, according to the release.
The ministry was originally known as T.I.M.E. for Christ Mexico Ministries, until it shifted its efforts to other nations after deciding in 2011 that travel in Mexico was too dangerous.