Skip to main content

Military Health System

Religious support team deploys to help frontline healthcare workers

Image of 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 & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

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...

DOD Officials Announce Distribution Plan for Initial COVID-19 Vaccine

Article
12/10/2020
Image of Mr. McCaffery speaking at a podium at the Pentagon

DOD is expected to receive around 44,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the initial phase.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

MHS leaders discuss future of military medicine during AMSUS panel

Article
12/9/2020
Military personnel, wearing masks, standing in a line in front of flags

For Dingle, readiness is the key issue during the transition.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Military Health System Transformation

DOD Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan

Article
12/9/2020
Soldier wearing mask, sitting in front of computer monitors

The Department prioritizes DOD personnel to receive the vaccine based on CDC guidance.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Executive Order on Ensuring Access to United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines

Policy

This EO outlines who should receive priority access to COVID-19 vaccines developed in the United States or procured by the United States Government (“United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines”).

Malmstrom AFB airmen battle COVID-19, execute the mission

Article
12/8/2020
Soldier wearing protective gear leaning into a car to chat with other soldier

"The whole point of public health is to prevent any type of spread."

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Pandemic underscores MHS’ need for reform, McCaffery tells AMSUS

Article
12/8/2020
Army soldier gets nose swab

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the MHS had embarked on reforms and initiatives to improve its medical support to the armed services.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccine Guidance

Policy

This memorandum provides guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the lead coordinating DOD Component for executing this guidance, in coordination with the Military Departments and other DOD Components.

MHS Minute: November 2020

Video
11/27/2020
MHS Minute: November 2020

During Warrior Care Month, we reflect on the strength and resilience of our nation's wounded, ill, and injured service members, and recognize the caregivers who support their recovery and rehabilitation.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Warrior Care

COVID-19 Response2

Video
11/27/2020
COVID-19 Response2

Army Spc. Sean Colangelo, assigned to the Javits New York Medical Station (JNYMS), talks about their position at JNYMS in support of the Department of Defense COVID-19 response, April 23, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, is providing military support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help communities in need. (U.S. Army Video by Cpl. Rachel Thicklin)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 Response

Video
11/27/2020
COVID-19 Response

Army Pfc. David Alvarado, assigned to the Javits New York Medical Station (JNYMS), talks about their position at JNYMS in support of the Department of Defense COVID-19 response, April 24, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, is providing military support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help communities in need. (U.S. Army Video by Cpl. Rachel Thicklin.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Holiday Season Guidance to Minimize Spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019

Publication
11/16/2020

This memorandum provides guidance to help protect individuals within the DoD community from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for gatherings and activities during the November to January holiday season.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Environment

Policy

Establishes the DHA's plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic

Updated Guidance for Performing Temperature Checks at Military MTFs and DTFs

Publication
10/21/2020

This guidance is an update to Defense Health Agency Return to Full Operations Concept of Operations, V5.0 (June 12, 2020) as it pertains to temperature checks in MTFs and DTFs. Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), previous guidance directed MTFs to take the temperature of all individuals entering the facility. Effective immediately, temperature checks are not required; however, screening of individuals entering MTFs and DTFs and healthcare personnel on duty in the MTF or DTF is to continue.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

MHS Minute: Heroes Behind the Mask

Video
10/8/2020
MHS Minute: Heroes Behind the Mask

In the face of a global threat, healthcare heroes across the MHS have donned their mask, and served on the front line of the battle against COVID-19. Tune in to this month's "MHS Minute" to learn more!

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Suicide Impacts Us All – But There Is Help!

Article
9/14/2020

September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Warrior Care
<< < ... 31 32 33 34 35  ... > >> 
Showing results 451 - 465 Page 31 of 37
Refine your search
Last Updated: December 27, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery