Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Religious support team deploys to help frontline healthcare workers

Two military personnel, wearing masks, standing against a wall The Religious Support Team from the U.S. Army Reserve’s 785th Medical Detachment – Combat Operational Stress Control Unit, comprised of Army Capt. Ian Olson, left, chaplain, and Army Sgt. Steven Burns, religious affairs specialist, provide spiritual and personal support to the service members deployed as part of the Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Jan. 13, 2021. (Photo by Zachary Mott, 88th Readiness Division.)

Recommended Content:

Spiritual Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Who cares for those who care for us?

For the military medical providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the answer to that question is, in part, religious support teams.

In Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a team of two soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserve’s 785th Medical Detachment – Combat Operational Stress Control Unit, 330th Medical Brigade, 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support), are providing support to the nurses and respiratory therapists augmenting the civilian hospital here.

The two-person religious support team (RST), comprised of Army Capt. Ian Olson, chaplain, and Army Sgt. Steven Burns, religious affairs specialist, were called to active duty to support the Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force (UAMTF). Their first assignment was to provide services covering the spectrum from spiritual guidance to friendship in Eau Claire.

“I think the RST is to this deployment as life preservers are to people on a cruise ship,” Olson said. “Just knowing that we’re here brings comfort. Knowing that there is support, I think, brings a sense of ease. So though we may not have a lot of direct contact with the providers, just our presence is helpful.”

Starting in early December, Olson and Burns have been working closely with the Behavioral Health Support Team from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to develop ways to assist and provide support to the military medical professionals working with the civilian hospitals in western Wisconsin.

“We’ve had to be creative and find time to interact with them,” Olson said. “Before and after shift we hang out in the hotel lobby to catch them. I’ve gone to the hospital a few times on day shift to meet with our providers to see how they’re doing, if they have any concerns, what the stressors are, how the mission is going for them, as well as working with behavioral health putting on activities.”

While they work with the medical support teams, Burns is quick to point out that he and Olson are just doing the jobs they were trained to do.

“I think this is about credit, I think it should go to the medical team,” he said. “The medical team is the one that has that PPE (proper protective equipment) on 12-hours a day where one mistake and they could get sick. They’re the ones that are on the front lines.”

In civilian life, Olson works as a chaplain at a hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When he received the call from the 807th MCDS Deputy Command Chaplain, Army Lt. Col. Timothy Stansberry, he explained that he was sad to leave his civilian hospital team, but excited to be able to provide his services during a time of need.

“You don’t know when you’re going or where you’re going so just be in the moment,” Olson said. “Don’t get ahead of yourself, just be in the mission at hand. We still have a team here to support until people get on flights.”

Chaplains with the specific “7 Romeo” designator were specifically selected for these missions. The 7 Romeo additional skill identifier means hospital chaplain. This ASI requires that a chaplain complete four units of clinical pastoral education – with each single unit requiring 400 hours – as well as a residency, followed by a two week Army combat medical ministry course.

“Having that training on both the civilian side and military side, I think RSTs on this COVID-specific mission are well prepared to address any issues that might emerge,” Olson said.

Because the nature of the COVID-19 response by the UAMTFs continues to change and evolve by the day, Olson and Burns were called to move to a different site in California where they will continue to provide religious and personal support to the teams there.

“In (Los Angeles) County, I think our work will be more critical,” Olson said. “I think the stress on our providers, depending on the location, will increase which will give us the opportunity to really do what we’re trained to do. We don’t hope for it, but we are absolutely prepared to provide that stellar spiritual care.”

The location may be changing, but for this Religious Support Team their mission remains the same.

“As is the mission for the chaplain corps, we are support,” Olson said. “We support whether we’re in an infantry unit or a field artillery or medical, the chaplain corps is here to support the rest of the fighting force.”

You also may be interested in...

Self-Care is as Easy as Downloading an App

Article
12/3/2021

Those in the military or medical field face unique situations that cause for overwhelming distractions. The DHA Connected Health Branch provides several tools that promote mental well-being and help develop self-care habits.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Military Mental Health Podcasts

Army Public Health Center provides update on Long COVID risks

Article Around MHS
12/1/2021
COVID19 Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

JTF Coyote begins pediatric COVID-19 clinics as adult booster vaccination numbers increase

Article Around MHS
11/23/2021
Military health personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The Vermont National Guard now supports the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccinations for youth in the 5 to 11 age group and booster clinics for the general adult population.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

DHA Form 236: Pediatric (5-11 years) COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Immunization Documentation

Form/Template
11/12/2021

This form is used to determine if the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered to the pediatric patient

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Children's Health | Immunization Healthcare

MHS Reaches 6 Million Doses of Vaccine Against COVID

Article
11/10/2021
Airmen of the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, receive COVID-19 immunizations as a part of the federal mandate at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri, Oct. 2, 2021. The 139th Medical Group oversees the operation. .

Military passes 6 million mark for COVID-19 shots administered across the Military Health System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

RCP

Photo
11/10/2021
Veteran caregiver, Diane Hupko with U.S. Army veteran she cares for smile at camera

Veteran caregiver, Diane Hupko (right) honorably supports the U.S. Army veteran (left) she cares for and regularly gives of her time to volunteer and support other military caregivers and families in the Fort Drum, New York area.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness

COVID 19 Vaccine Is Now Available for Children 5 to 11

Article
11/9/2021
5-year-old girl in mask reads a book by herself

COVID-19 vaccines for 5-11 year olds are ready now through MHS

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Tips for Caregivers – How to Take Care of Yourself and Avoid Burnout

Article
11/4/2021
Soldier sitting in gym with wife and daughter

The Human Performance Resources by CHAMP team, part of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ Consortium for Health and Military Performance provides stress management strategies for caregivers of recovering friends, family members or loved ones.

Recommended Content:

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | Total Force Fitness | Warrior Care

Wounded Warrior with Family

Photo
11/4/2021
Soldier sitting in gym with wife and daughter

A participant and his family watch as wounded, ill and injured service members participate in the air rifle and air pistol competitions during the 2017 Army Warrior Games Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas (Department of Defense photo by Roger Wollenberg).

Recommended Content:

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | Warrior Care | Total Force Fitness

Vaccine for Children

Infographic
11/4/2021

Getting your children vaccinated can help protect them against COVID-19, as well as reduce disruptions to in-person learning and activities by helping curb community transmission.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Vaccines for Children

Vax Facts for Children

Infographic
11/4/2021

Should Young Children Get the COVID-19 Vaccine? Yes. The CDC recommends that children ages 5-11 receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 pediatric vaccine.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Vaccines for Children

Vaccine for Children TLDR

Infographic
11/4/2021

Vaccination is our best defense against the spread of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Vaccines for Children

Are You Prepared for Flu Season? Let TRICARE Help.

Article
11/1/2021
A hospital corpsman administers an influenza vaccination to an airman as part of a seasonal shot exercise onboard Naval Air Station Sigonella.

Flu season is here once again. Are you prepared? With the COVID-19 Delta variant​ continuing to spread and our health care system overburdened, it’s important for all of us to help combat the spread of flu. And the best way to do so is to get a flu shot.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | Changes to TRICARE

Ultra-Endurance Military Athletes: What Motivates Them?

Article
10/25/2021
U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Duane Zitta on top of a mountain

For some, sports are a way to stay fit, for extreme endurance military athletes, it’s a way of life and a way to challenge themselves physically and mentally.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness

Pregnancy Health Alert: COVID-19 Vaccine is Strongly Recommended

Article
10/20/2021
Pregnant women gets the COVID-19 vaccine

Get vaccinated for COVID-19 if you’re pregnant or trying, DOD and CDC and advise.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Women's Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 48

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.