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    Iowa chaplain cares for service members during COVID-19 response

    Chaplain leads prayer circle during COVID-19 response

    Photo By Cpl. Zachary Zippe | Capt. Tyler Stauffer, a chaplain for the Iowa National Guard's Task Force Central,...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Zachary Zippe 

    135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    Currently there are almost 900 service members activated for the Iowa National Guard in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them is Capt. Tyler Stauffer, chaplain for Task Force Central, who was activated to support service members during their time on state active duty.

    “I’ve spent a lot of time with Soldiers,” said Stauffer. “Whether it’s with strike teams, Test Iowa sites, transportation missions or call centers, it has been great to see people are seeing the value in what they’re doing.”

    Stauffer said that for some service members, crisis response is a way to care for their families and communities, and for others it is their sense of duty to be here, serve, and do what they signed up to do. Stauffer was activated to assist service members as they assist Iowa.

    “Our mission statement for our unit ministry team has to do with soul care,” said Stauffer. “We care for the whole [service member], and soul care essentially just means taking care of the core of who we are. That’s always my goal whether it’s in civilian ministry or in the Guard, is to be able to take care of people’s souls.”

    Stauffer is currently on state active duty at Camp Dodge, but he and his family are from Meriden, Iowa. Back home, he also has a fatherly duty. A little over two months ago, his son was born at the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our third child was born,” said Stauffer. “We were actually in the hospital when the hospital started their restrictions on visitors. So, one day it was no issue and the next day it could only be me with my wife and newborn. My kids could not even visit. ”

    Stauffer was called up for state active duty at a difficult time for everyone, and an exceptionally stressful time for his family. He said his kids cannot even go across the street and play at the park, and they had to bring home their newborn early because of the pandemic. Regardless, Stauffer still has an obligation to fulfil for the state of Iowa.

    “Part of what we do when we raise our right hand is say, ‘I’m willing to come when called’, so the timing is never the exact right time,” said Stauffer. “Especially because we're called up in times of crisis. That’s part of what it means to be a Soldier caring for the community, neighbors, and state, especially in the National Guard.”

    Stauffer is no stranger to taking care of the community as he is a pastor at a rural church in his hometown, a town of only 149 people. All aspects of his life have one thing in common: caring for people.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has made me realize how much of an extrovert I really am,” said Stauffer. “Having to work from home and trying to be a pastor is hard. A huge part of being a pastor is people-oriented, and to not be with people on a regular basis has been a lot harder for me than I realized it would be.”

    Stauffer said it is hard not being able to be with people directly, but he has been able to come up with new and creative ways to help people throughout the pandemic. Some of his methods may not be ideal, but some things he otherwise would not have thought to try.

    “In one sense it has made it a lot more difficult to just be a neighbor or to be friends with other people because we can’t meet in the same way that we used to,” said Stauffer. “But, also there’s been some creative things that people have done to maintain relationships or build new ones.”

    Stauffer said he and his family have virtual dinners with people to help them through the pandemic. A simple laptop at the dinner table can allow for anyone to join their family for the night while maintaining a proper social distance. Through these interactions, he has seen the effects of the pandemic on the community firsthand. He said that health care has deeply impacted the lives of people in the community. In an effort to protect the community as a whole there are long-term effects that are impacting individuals.

    “In a lot of ways, there’s a life and death component to what we’re doing and how we implement what we’re doing,” said Stauffer.

    In true chaplain form, he relates the current situation back to a simple Bible verse. He said in Ecclesiastes chapter four it talks about how two are better than one. When one falls the other will be there to pick them up. Then, the verse goes on to talk about how a three cord bond is not easily broken, and so on. He then relates that verse to the bond of nearly 1,000 service members in the Iowa National Guard serving the state of Iowa during a time of crisis.

    “Essentially that is what we are doing,” said Stauffer. “We are here helping Iowa up and providing essential services – food banks, call centers, transportation of PPE, and making sure that people are able to care for themselves in a way that is healthy.”



    Date Taken: 05.22.2020
    Date Posted: 05.22.2020 11:59
    Story ID: 370649
    Location: IA, US
    Hometown: MERIDEN, IA, US

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