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...

COVID-19 Vaccine PSA #1

Video
1/29/2021
DHA Seal

A Department of Defense Public Service Announcement communicating that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine protects yourself, your community, and our nation. Widespread vaccination against COVID-19 aligns with the Department of Defense’s priorities of protecting service members, DoD civilians, and families; safeguarding national security capabilities; and supporting the whole-of-nation response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Video by Air Force Staff Sgt. Brycen Guerrero)

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

COVID-19 Vaccine PSA #5

Video
1/29/2021
DHA Seal

A Department of Defense Public Service Announcement communicating the importance of maintaining COVID-19 public health safety procedures while the vaccine is distributed, to prevent complacency in COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Widespread vaccination against COVID-19 aligns with the Department of Defense’s priorities of protecting service members, DoD civilians, and families; safeguarding national security capabilities; and supporting the whole-of-nation response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Video by Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Duckworth)

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

COVID-19 Vaccine PSA #2

Video
1/29/2021
DHA Seal

A Department of Defense Public Service Announcement communicating that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine provides a quicker return to life. Widespread vaccination against COVID-19 aligns with the Department of Defense’s priorities of protecting service members, DoD civilians, and families; safeguarding national security capabilities; and supporting the whole-of-nation response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Video by Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Duckworth)

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

LTG Place Vaccine Roll-Out Video

Video
1/18/2021
DHA Seal

DHA Director LTG Ron Place talks about coronavirus vaccines, their safety and efficacy, and encourages everyone to do their own research to get vaccinated.

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

MHS Minute: December 2020

Video
12/28/2020
DHA Seal

See how MHS is leading a phased approach to offer 11.1 million Department of Defense personnel the first COVID-19 vaccines. To learn more about the safety and efficacy behind COVID-19 vaccines, go to: https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Combat-Support/Public-Health/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Vaccine-Efforts.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

MHS COVID Response

Video
12/21/2020
DHA Seal

The men and women of the Military Health System spent 2020 working to protect beneficiaries' health during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are just a few of our accomplishments.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Heroes Behind the Mask

Video
12/17/2020
DHA Seal

A tribute to those across the Military Health System who deserve recognition and thanks for their hard work during this pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

COVID-19 Response

Video
12/14/2020
DHA Seal

USPHS Lt. Courtney Labitzky, 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 29, 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 | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

COVID-19 Vaccine Update | How Vaccines are Developed

Video
12/14/2020
COVID-19 Vaccine Update | How Vaccines are Developed

COVID-19 vaccines are within sight in the United States! Scientists continue making progress in testing and monitoring COVID-19 vaccines for safety and effectiveness, and the federal government is ensuring that all adults who want a vaccine will be able to get one at no cost. Learn how these and other vaccines are developed, tested, and authorized for use – and how they work to prevent diseases like COVID-19. This video uses interviews and visuals to help viewers understand the science behind vaccines and why there is reason for optimism. Experts featured in the video include: Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health; Dr, Moncef Slaoui, Operation Warp Speed; Dr. Stephen Hahn, Food and Drug Administration; Dr. Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, visit http://www.coronavirus.gov.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Immunization Healthcare | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

COVID-19 Response2

Video
11/27/2020
DHA Seal

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 | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

COVID-19 Response

Video
11/27/2020
DHA Seal

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 | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

MHS Minute: November 2020

Video
11/27/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

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 | Warrior Care

How Can Vaccine and Antibody Studies Move So Quickly and Still Be Safe?

Video
11/3/2020
How Can Vaccine and Antibody Studies Move So Quickly and Still Be Safe?

This video provides a detailed overview of the processes that have been implemented to accelerate the pace of the COVID-19 vaccine and antibody studies, and what is being done to assure safety.

Recommended Content:

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

The Importance of Enrolling Diverse Participants in COVID-19 Studies

Video
11/3/2020
The Importance of Enrolling Diverse Participants in COVID-19 Studies

This video discusses why enrolling diverse participants in COVID-19 studies is critical for ensuring that, when we find a vaccine, we have enough data from populations who are most affected by COVID-19 to determine vaccine safety and efficacy.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

MHS Minute: Heroes Behind the Mask

Video
10/8/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

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 | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 46 - 60 Page 4 of 6

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.