FALLS CHURCH, VA – US Air Force Capt. Jenna Mason, a nurse stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, spent about five months in Minnesota support a hospital staff at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
When she recently finished her service there, she said it was hard to say goodbye to the civilian hospital staff.
“It feels a little bittersweet, you know?” Mason said shortly after her last shift at the hospital on the morning of January 23rd.
“Just the impact we have on patients is what makes it so rewarding to be a nurse,” Mason said. “We are not just fainting [medicine] but we hold their hands and help them through it all. We are also emotional support. “
Across the country, hundreds of service members from the active and reserve components have been supporting civilian hospitals in recent weeks as the recent rise in COVID-19 infections has strained the country’s healthcare system.
The Ministry of Defense announced in January that a additional 1,000 active duty members were ready to be sent to civilian hospitals to help take the pressure off medical staff. These 1,000 staff joined approx. 400 other military medical personnel, as former deployed to provide assistance to civilian hospitals.
The additional military medical forces have been deployed to provide support in Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio. Other recent deployments included medical teams sent to Arizona, Indiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Wisconsin and a team to the Navajo Nation, according to the U.S. Northern Command.
“It’s a team effort – the Department of Defense is one of many federal agencies providing assistance – and I’m grateful and proud of the role of our service members in this endeavor,” said U.S. Army Lieutenant General John R. Evans Jr. , the north commander of the army, in a recent report about medical care.
The deployment of active service forces followed other announcements from state governments that have activated the National Guard to support civilian hospitals.
IN Arizona, a team of Air Force medics has supported the civilian hospital staff at Yuma Regional Medical Center. “The staff has been very accommodating and really helped us integrate into their facility,” the U.S. Air Force Capt. Said. Farran Adams, a nurse affiliated with the Yuma team.
IN Maryland, as many as 1,000 members of the National Guard deployed to support test facilities, hospitals and foster families. “Personally, it feels good,” said the U.S. Army Sgt. Shanay Clay, who supported the mission in Maryland by providing COVID-19 test kits and masks to health facilities and vaccination sites.
“It feels really good to know that just this one little thing can potentially save a life.”
IN Vermont, state officials have also asked for help from state security departments. U.S. Army Colonel Justin Davis, director of plans and operations for the Vermont National Guard, noted how the military’s role in the COVID-19 response has evolved over the past two years.
“When this started almost two years ago, we established an alternative health facility. We expanded the strategic national warehouse, distributed food, conducted test sites and helped the state with contact tracking,” Davis said.
“Then vaccines became available and we converted our test team into a vaccination team. We also added a team … to monitor the reception, storage and distribution of the vaccines.”
IN LouisianaThe National Guard has been particularly busy as missions to support COVID-19 efforts over the past two years have often coincided with other missions in response to several devastating hurricanes and a severe winter storm, said Army Major Patrick O’Brien Boling of the Army. Louisiana National Guard.
IN Oregongovernment officials activated about 1,200 reservists in January, sending them out to as many as 40 hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients and in some cases short-staffed due to employees becoming ill.