Two dedicated volunteers for Emergency Disaster Services recently received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. The award, established by the President’s Council on Service and Civil Participation, recognizes the importance of volunteer work within our nation’s fiber.
Roseann Rustia, who served as an emergency response chaplain and volunteered with the emotional and spiritual care hotline, received the award for 738 hours of work in 2021.
Robert Langsfeld, Central Territory SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network) coordinator, received the award for 726 hours of work last year.
Both Roseann and Bob received the gold award, including a medallion, an official certificate and a letter of recognition from President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Roseann learned she was getting the award during a Zoom meeting with other volunteer chaplains. Kevin Ellers, territorial EDS coordinator, who nominated Roseann for the award, made the announcement.
“It was a real surprise. It was humbling,” Roseann said, as she recalled that moment.
Roseann began her partnership with the Army in 2016, after her husband died. Looking for a way to work through grief, she found helping others was a spiritual salve. As an emergency response chaplain, Roseann consoled those who often were facing the worst moments of their lives.
“People are grateful. You don’t even have to say anything. You can be a ministry of presence and just put your hand on a shoulder. Just be there,” she said.
The hotline, which was born during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed people to discuss everything from a personal crisis to their pet cat, Roseann explained. “Sometimes, they just needed to talk,” she said.
Roseann recently relocated to Tennessee and plans to continue her volunteer work with The Salvation Army.
“The Salvation Army brings hope,” she said.
Bob received the President’s Volunteer Service Award at an outdoor celebration for Army volunteers. He is proud and humble to be a recipient and feels his award is shared with all EDS volunteers.
“This award is not only for me. We have so many dedicated volunteers. So many good people,” he said.
Bob became SATERN coordinator in 2019. He now oversees the work of an estimated 250 trained SATERN volunteers. Bob communicates with divisional coordinators, reviewing strategic plans and territorial objectives.
He also is on the frontlines in disaster situations and offers spiritual comfort as an emergency response chaplain. Most recently, Bob found himself bringing solace to survivors of the mass shooting on July 4 in Highland Park, Ill.
“When I took this on, I never saw myself becoming a chaplain. But other people did,” Bob said.
Technology has changed dramatically since SATERN began in 1988. Initially, ham-radios were the main form of communication when phone lines were unusable. Now, SATERN also utilizes digital voice communications, interfacing computer systems, more business-based equipment and more tactical communications, Bob said.
A self-proclaimed night owl, Bob says he is always up late and planning—preparing to have emergency services in place in the early morning hours, if necessary.
“I love the people I work with. My SATERN guys and gals are amazing. They have so many skills,” Bob said. “I am very proud to be a part of it. When there are people in need, we are there to help.”