Emotional & Spiritual Care (USA)
Spirituality is part of the human experience, so when a disaster disrupts a person’s and a community’s life, emotional and spiritual care contribute to healing. This is the Frontline’s work. Respectful care in time of disaster helps people cope and recover, laying the groundwork for resilience and hope.
What Is the Orthodox Frontline?
IOCC’s Orthodox Frontline, under our US program, is part of an emergency response network formed in 2001 to respond to disasters within the United States—natural or human-caused. Whether it’s a tornado, hurricane, flood, or other devastating event, IOCC Frontliners can offer emotional and spiritual care to the people affected.
Who Are IOCC’s Frontliners?Each Frontliner is a professional trained to care for others: some are priests or chaplains, counselors, social workers, or therapists; others are medical professionals, EMTs, or emergency response managers. As a group, Frontliners are well equipped to support both people facing trauma and the first responders and emergency workers serving them. In addition to their professional education, all Frontliners receive specific training with IOCC in disaster chaplaincy and response.
While they focus on emotional and spiritual care, Frontliners may also support IOCC’s emergency action teams responding immediately after a disaster, or later during long-term recovery efforts.
How We Work
In its disaster response, IOCC partners with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) members, as well as with state VOAD coalitions and local groups. These organizations coordinate in offering emotional and spiritual care tailored to the needs of those directly affected. Even more important is IOCC’s collaboration with local parishes, which often serve as a base of operations for IOCC disaster response or host Frontliners for group sessions with people after a traumatic event.
Frontliners first deployed after September 11, 2001, and have responded numerous times since, including after Hurricane Florence in 2018. Deployments also followed floods in Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska; tornadoes in Minnesota and Oklahoma; and shootings in Las Vegas and Sandy Hook. There are now over 125 IOCC Frontliners from various Orthodox jurisdictions based throughout the United States.
Each Frontliner must be a trained professional in at least one of these fields:
- seasoned chaplain
- emergency response manager
- social worker
- medical doctor
- registered nurse
- emergency medical technician
- or a related profession
IOCC accepts applications for the Orthodox Frontline on a rolling basis. New Frontliners are accepted based on their professional qualifications and on the need to provide coverage in each of the 10 FEMA regions throughout the US.
Your Commitment as an Orthodox Frontliner
- Attend an annual continuing education training with IOCC each spring
- Be on standby and able to deploy to a disaster-affected area on short notice
- Be responsive to IOCC staff through regular emails and phone calls