EDS Highlight: Major Mike McKee

Sep 18, 2023

The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) team is made up of dedicated individuals who work tirelessly to ensure this vital ministry runs smoothly. Major Mike McKee is currently serving as the Emergency Disaster Services Director in the Indiana Division and plays a pivotal role in managing and coordinating disaster relief efforts. As the director of EDS, Major McKee is at the forefront of orchestrating responses to various crises and disasters across Indiana.

Emergency Disaster Services: A Global Endeavor

Emergency Disaster Services is a global initiative of The Salvation Army with teams set up across the United States. The EDS ministry can be traced back to the early 1900s and the devastating Galveston, Texas hurricane that took thousands of lives. Witnessing the profound suffering caused by this catastrophe, The Salvation Army quickly stepped in to offer food, shelter, and crucial emotional and spiritual support. It was a turning point for emergency disaster relief that revealed the immense impact The Salvation Army could have in times of crisis.

Today, EDS responds to a broad spectrum of disasters, ranging from car accidents and house fires to widespread natural disasters and even acts of terrorism. EDS offers seven core services before, during, and after disasters: training, food service, emotional and spiritual care, emergency communications, disaster social services, donations management, and recovery. These services collectively bring order and relief to individuals facing or recovering from disasters.

"No matter where in the world we go, or what has happened to make a particular intervention necessary, our mission is always the same," shared Major Mike McKee. "We strive to do our ministry in such a way that the people we serve can see that there’s a God who loves them and cares about what they’re going through.  No matter how many times we have to go out or where we have to go, if our heart isn’t broken and we forget that we’re there to serve people who the Lord loves so deeply, we’ll never be able to do accomplish all that He would like us to do. We can design a innovative recovery project or provide some much-needed relief items, but it’s God who brings the healing."

Major Mike McKee's Role in EDS

Major Mike McKee's dedication to EDS extends across the globe, encompassing dozens of international disaster relief efforts. His missions have taken him to regions grappling with natural disasters, civil unrest, famine, and the aftermath of wars. Among his international assignments, he contributed to relief projects in Iraq during the 2nd Gulf War and responded to the South Asia Tsunami that struck Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and India in 2004. Additionally, Major Mike spent significant time in Africa, where he played a vital role in assisting post-genocide refugees in Rwanda and facilitating the resettlement of internally displaced individuals in Zimbabwe and Uganda, providing drought relief projects in various countries, as well as three months doing assessments in Liberia during their last Ebola outbreak.  Most recently, the Major deployed to Romania in 2022 to respond to the refugee crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine.

However, Major Mike's commitment to providing care and support wasn't limited to international endeavors; he has also been deployed numerous times within the United States. Across the nation he has held been a member of EDS teams responding to floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. Major Mike’s most significant domestic deployment was in New York City after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. During the many months of recovery after this devastating tragedy, he served as a chaplain at Ground Zero and later as a liaison officer with the City of New York.

As a Salvation Army officer, Major Mike has also lived in and served local communities in the U.S. in Indiana and Michigan.  Other appointments placed him in England and the Bahamas to assist with both local and international Salvation Army ministries as well as several years at USA National Headquarters serving at the Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) where he was responsible for overseeing the International Emergency projects sponsored by The Salvation Army in the USA. Though he has lived all over the world, it is Major Mike’s deployments during EDS responses that have defined his long career.  

EDS in Indiana: A Prepared Response

Here in Indiana, the EDS team led by Major Mike is well-prepared to respond to any emergency. The Salvation Army Indiana Division boasts a statewide network of trained volunteers, mobile feeding units (canteens), disaster equipment, and a dedicated training site in Indianapolis. Volunteers and employees alike undergo extensive training to ensure readiness when called to respond to disasters. Across Indiana, these individuals have offered food and hydration to first responders, utility workers, and survivors during and after disasters. Through the years they have responded to large apartment fires, mass shootings, floods, tornadoes, and widespread power outages.  

The EDS team also offers support to law enforcement during the visitations and funerals for fallen officers, providing prayer and emotional support along with a cup of coffee or bottle of water. Regardless of the season or situation, Indiana's Emergency Disaster Services team is prepared and ready to serve in any capacity necessary to provide essential assistance.

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