Major Tara Bauer was a Lily Resident Minister at Plymouth Church 2011–2013. She is a chaplain and chaplain supervisor stationed at Aviano Air Base in Italy, where she lives with her wife, Charlotte. Tara was ordained at Plymouth, so she is a Covenant Partner as well as a member. This is a message from her to our congregation.
There is a general feeling of exhaustion from many of our members and families, having endured the drone of Covid to the additional stress of war, increased operations, and further ambiguity. Our counseling load has generally picked up, not so much directly to Ukraine, but mostly how repeated or increased stress affects already-fragile areas of relationships or well-being.
Regardless, there is also something to be said for the increased focus, commitment to their duty, and the sense of purpose they have internalized. Our airmen and chapel team are doing an amazing job adjusting to truly being a forward-operating location. There’ll be more adjustment to come as the effects of Russia’s actions ripple out through the upcoming years.
A lot of our members have volunteered hours and donated money and items to support Ukrainian refugees and pets. Some have housed refugees (most are family members). Whatever our operational stance, our members and families will continue to exercise compassion and humanity to do what they can to help support these refugees. And I always find that remarkable.
I and our team certainly appreciate the prayers for our military members. Some individuals arrive here as the newest members of the Air Force at their first duty station far away from family and in the middle of stressors. We do our best to take care of them.
Not to co-relate the two (between the newest members and suicide intervention), but we are also currently the leading base in suicide prevention. We have implemented LivingWorks’ SafeTalk actively over the past two years and now have bumped it up to ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). LivingWorks is a Canadian Company that has developed a research-based suicide intervention curriculum used in both the military and civilian sectors. In my time at Aviano, approximately 2.5 years, we have had zero suicides. We have had cases of ideation, even attempts, and yet someone has managed to be alert, intervene, and provide the pathway to help. Please continue to pray with us that this remains to be the case, and that we can continue to improve numbers throughout the military, veteran, and civilian populations.
Thanks always as well for what each of you do and what you choose to do as a community. I encourage you to continue to be bold in God’s calling towards justice, mercy, and service.