Chaplain highlights passion for serving others

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Tinashe Machona
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Very few Airmen at the Arizona Air National Guard's 161st Air Refueling Wing are charged with a duty to promote spirituality, religious freedom and member morale - they are the wing's chaplain staff. For one chaplain, her duty is tied to an unflinching determination for pastoral care.

Chaplain (Capt.) Lauralee Ozzello joined the wing in 2013 and soon earned a reputation among her fellow Guard members as an inspirational leader who exhibits selfless service.

Unit Training Assemblies, or drill weekends, present Ozzello an opportunity to lead church services that meet the spiritual needs of service members. Additionally, she's a fixture at base ceremonies often offering an invocation.  

"I have a belief that any chance I get to share my smile and personality is an opportunity to lift someone up," said Ozzello. "To me the Guard is very family oriented. Here I have an opportunity to develop relationships at a deep and more meaningful level as opposed to at a civilian job."

Outside the military, Ozzello is a customer service representative for an airline. She said she genuinely enjoys helping people and she is emphatic about her desire to invest in the success of people she interacts with in all facets of life.

Chaplain (Maj.) Thad Todd, Ozzello's supervisor said, "Her spirit of joy and enthusiasm is contagious as she visits various units. Her desire to serve others is a blessing."

She said she subscribes to a simple leadership philosophy. "In order to be a great leader I believe someone has to be a great follower that listens to others' ideas," she said. "If you have that ability, to listen and be open minded to what other leaders have done in the past, you will be a good leader."

During Black History Month, Ozzello reflected on the leadership of Oprah Winfrey because of her courage to overcome adversity and achieve success. Ozzello particularly applauds Oprah's contributions to humankind.

Although Black History Month recognizes the contributions of African-Americans to the United States, Ozzello expressed her aspiration for all races to be commended for their part in the American experience.

"I think we should treat all individuals with respect, and honor what they have to contribute as far as their talents and the gifts that God has given them," she said.