Emotional and Spiritual Care: An Essential Need in Disaster Response

September 20, 2017
Jacqueline Rachev | Jacqueline.Rachev@usc.salvationarmy.org | (773) 205-3508

Emotional and Spiritual Care: An Essential Need in Disaster Response

Victoria, Texas (September 20, 2017) - After a disaster strikes, The Salvation Army is immediately on the scene to provide food and shelter for first responders and survivors. In addition to the survivors' immediate needs, the Army also focuses on the emotional and spiritual well-being of those impacted. Trained emotional and spiritual care staff and volunteers are often dispatched to work alongside The Salvation Army mobile feeding units as they minister in hurting communities.

“A disaster changes us,” said Pastor Alexis Twito, coordinator of The Salvation Army Milwaukee’s chaplaincy program. “We don’t often notice the trauma right away, and we rarely see it in ourselves, but it is there and it can affect how we recover.”

Twito was deployed to Victoria, Texas, for two weeks in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. She and five other emotional and spiritual care (ESC) volunteers spent time visiting with area residents during neighborhood meal distributions providing a hug, comfort and if needed, a prayer.

“When people come to get a hot meal, they’re hungry...they’re not looking for a prayer,” Twito said. “Simply giving them a bottle of water and asking them how the cleanup process is going provides them an opportunity to talk. And before you know it, you’re hugging people, providing support and offering a blessing.”

The Army’s disaster services model includes emotional and spiritual support because it has enormous influence over physical aspects. People dealing with emotional trauma after disasters may see these symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Quickness to anger
  • Deep anxiety
  • Strained relationships
  • Lack of appetite
  • Extreme exhaustion and weariness
  • Prolonged increase pulse rate and high blood pressure

The ESC team remains a vital part of services as the Army transitions from relief to recovery and rebuilding. “Recovery is exhausting and physically demanding,” said Twito. “We help throughout the entire process so people can rebuild and begin again.”

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index (HumanNeedsIndex.org). The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go to www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

Our Mission

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
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