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...

Guidance for Commanders on Risk-Based Changing of Health Protection Condition Levels During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

Publication
5/20/2020

This memorandum provides guidance for commanders to consider when making decisions to change health protection condition (HPCON) levels as COVID-19 pandemic conditions on and adjacent to our installations begin to improve.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Military chaplains emphasize spiritual health during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
5/19/2020
Soldier in front of military sculpture

In a time of great fear, spiritual health remains an important domain of Total Force Fitness.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Psychological Fitness | Total Force Fitness

DHA increases access to telehealth during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
5/19/2020
Medical personnel sitting at desk talking into laptop monitor

Use of telehealth role increases to prevent COVID-19 spread

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Coronavirus

METC creates innovative training to graduate RT students

Article
5/19/2020
Two medical personnel with a simulated baby in a medical setting

When COVID-19 interrupted phase 2 clinical training a class of Army and Navy respiratory therapist students needed to from the program, their clinical training instructors developed a plan and put it to action.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Resuming Elective Surgical, Invasive, and Dental Procedures in Military Medical and Dental Treatment Facilities

Publication
5/19/2020

This memorandum provides guidance on how each Military Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) and Dental Treatment Facility (DTF) may resume elective medical and dental procedures.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

Expert panel on infection control to tackle COVID-19 questions

Article
5/18/2020
Two men in hazmat suits

How are patient safety decisions made during the pandemic?

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Defending the Homeland: RWBAHC Soldier Shows compassion, initiative in COVID-19 Screening

Article
5/18/2020
Two soldiers standing in front of a car, holding a coin

"This type of behavior needs to be highlighted and awarded because it is truly what makes this organization great."

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Defending the Homeland: BAMC infectious disease doc aids Guam's COVID response

Article
5/14/2020
Image of soldier standing, surrounded by tropical water

The Navy has since undertaken an aggressive mitigation plan of isolating, quarantining, and treating affected Sailors to keep the ship prepared to execute its mission.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Global Health Engagement | Coronavirus

DHA leaders bring expertise to DoD COVID-19 Lab Testing Task Force

Article
5/14/2020
Image of Gen. Payne speaking with a soldier

Testing a key next step in the coronavirus fight

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Military Medical Treatment Facilities to Implement Updated DHA COVID-19 Medical Coding Policy

Policy

The Defense Health Agency (DHA) Memorandum, based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) and (d), establishes the DHA’s procedures to standardize the coding for Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Military Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs). This memorandum cancels and replaces DHA- Policy Memorandum 20-003 of (13 April 2020). A change was issued since the cancelled Memorandum 20-003 of (13 April 2020), the Attachment titles were updated to reflect that Attachments 1, 2, and 4 are considered Policies as opposed to Guidance.

  • Identification #: 20-003
  • Date: 5/13/2020
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Coronavirus

Defending the Homeland: Turning on lifesaving trials at Madigan Army Medical Center

Article
5/13/2020
Image of soldier in front of a laptop

In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Madigan is currently supporting nine research protocols designed to address gaps in knowledge.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Graduate Nursing Student Tells of Challenges to Pursuing Doctoral Degree during COVID-19

Article
5/12/2020
Image of soldier sitting at desk looking at laptop

Although graduate work is done independently, much of it requires in-person collaboration and data collection.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

US Coast Guard spouse volunteers at Maastricht hospital, saves lives

Article
5/12/2020
Image of nurse with mask

Working at the COVID-19 unit does come at a cost – a personal sacrifice that remains mostly unseen.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus

From the battlefield to the homefront: MHS nurses continue to serve

Article
5/12/2020
Seven soldiers standing behind an American flag

Nurses fill many roles including research, education, leadership

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Nursing in the Military Health System

Transport Vent Tutorial (ParaPAC) (March 25, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

Transport Vent Tutorial - ParaPAC

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit
<< < ... 36 37 38 39 40  ... > >> 
Showing results 586 - 600 Page 40 of 49

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.