Two Veterans, Three Children, One Family That Serves

LifeLine crewmember Tasha Shafer is one of many members of the IU Health team who serve our country. Her husband Jason Shafer joins her in service. Today, on Veterans Day, we honor all those who serve our country.

She wears a jacket with a single word printed on the right hand side just below her shoulder: “Crew.”

That one word accurately describes Tasha Shafer. Not only is she a valuable member of the LifeLine crew; she’s also a member of a much larger corps – the United States Military. Today, on Veterans Day, we honor Shafer and other IU Health team members who serve our country.

For Shafer, being part of a team comes second nature. She and her husband of six years, Jason Shafer, are both in the military and together they are raising three children – Aiden, 8; Mackenzie, 6, Amaya, one. The team is different from many family units. Jason Shafer is deployed through August.

It’s something they’ve grown accustomed to.

A native of Texas, Tasha Shafer moved to Indiana during her sophomore year of high school. She joined the Jr. ROTC at North Central High School and a week after graduation; she started basic training with the US Army National Guard. During 9/11 she continued training as a medic.

“I had some good instructors in the ROTC,” said Shafer. “They taught me a lot about life goals.” She finished medic school in 2001 and enrolled at Indiana State University planning for a career in nursing. But that planned changed when she was deployed to Africa for 18 months. She first met Jason, who serves in the Marines, when they were stationed on the same base.

“We were in Somalia and Ethiopia working on a humanitarian mission. We’d set up aid stations where we distributed meds, and saw patients – a lot of pregnant women who didn’t have prenatal care,” said Shafer. They also distributed food, toys, and stuffed animals and played soccer with the children.

She met Jason when he came to the clinic with back problems and she gave him an injection to ease the pain. Jason was a resident of Michigan; Tasha said she wouldn’t have met him if it hadn’t been for the service.

But after that tour, they both went their separate ways. Tasha returned to Indiana to continue with nursing school – until she got the call again. She was again deployed, this time to Iraq, where she again worked at a clinic on the base.

Seven years after they met, Jason found Tasha on Facebook. He proposed on Sept. 11, 2011 and they were married the following April. Tasha hasn’t been deployed since they had children; Jason is serving his sixth deployment with the infantry division.

“I know I could be deployed. I know we could both be deployed at the same time,” said Shafer “It’s a reality that we have to prepare for. Our life is a little different. We have three kids we are responsible for so it’s complicated and involves a lot of planning. We have things that most 30-year-olds don’t have – family care plans, wills, powers of attorney.” They have one family care plan in place in case she is deployed; one in case he is deployed; and one in case they are both deployed.

She was almost finished with nursing school, when she was last deployed. She knows that being part of a military family means that life changes – even when you are making plans. She joined LifeLine in 2015 where she serves as the team lead for communications. In that role she trains communications specialists and fills in for team members when needed.

“My dream was always to work for LifeLine. At one point I thought I’d work as a medic because that’s been my experience for 18 years. But I like working in a different capacity,” said Shafer. “It’s given me the best of both worlds – I’ve worked as a medic and now I’m working behind-the-scenes – helping everyone I come into contact with – patients, doctors, crew members. It’s really about being part of a team.”

More about Shafer:

  • About keeping in touch with loved ones who are deployed: “We do a lot of Face time. My first deployment we had to wait in line at the Internet café to connect with our loved ones. Thank goodness for cell phones.”
  • Where’s dad? “We have a world map on the wall and we use a piece of yarn to travel with dad. We also have an Indiana clock and a clock with dad’s time.”
  • Advice to dual-military families: “Keep calendars and plan to stay organized. Routines are big. Let your kids be independent; let them help out and accept help from others.” Friends from her son’s baseball team recently set up a meal train with their church to fill Shafer’s freezer.
  • Where did her sense of teamwork start? “I used to run lights, sound and music for high school plays. It was part of working behind-the-scenes but being part of a larger group.” She’s worked with the cast of “Funny Girl,”  “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “The Lion King.”   

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.