Thousands of National Guard Soldiers Called in as Pandemic Hospitalizations Peak

January 17, 2022Coffee or Die
National Guard Medical Support

Private Aduyel Kusi (right) and Spc. Jake Casucci practice loading a wheeled stretcher into the back of an ambulance here, Dec. 28, 2021. The Massachusetts National Guard Members activated to assist during a COVID-19 surge will provide non-clinical assistance across the Commonwealth. (National Guard Photo By Sgt. Cody Kilduff)

As nationwide COVID-19 infections surge, more than 15,600 National Guard members are supporting state and local officials throughout the country.

Of those responding, more than 6,000 Guard members are providing direct support to hospitals, care centers and other medical facilities.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, National Guard men and women in each [of] the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia, have been on the front lines,” said Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau. “We continue to work closely with the states to ensure our Soldiers and Airmen are meeting their needs.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, COVID hospitalizations reached a pandemic peak in early January, causing a strain on healthcare facilities.

Guard members are working to reduce that strain.

“We have worked tirelessly together in the states to bring a solution to fill the healthcare provider shortage,” said Army Maj. Gen. Jill Faris, the director of the Office of the Joint Surgeon General at the National Guard Bureau.  “Partnering with our local communities to determine the best solutions to help with the increased demands is what we have been doing since the beginning of COVID.”

There are currently 49 states and territories that have requested the National Guard to assist with COVID response efforts.

In Ohio, roughly 2,500 Ohio National Guard members are supporting COVID response efforts with the majority of those helping at testing sites and hospitals.

National Guard Medical Support
Members of the Ohio National Guard reported for duty at the Defense Supply Center Columbus on Jan. 6 to aid the state’s hospitals during the current surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has authorized the activation of 2,300 members since mid-December to provide clinical and non-clinical medical support across the state. In Central Ohio, guard members will assist at several local hospitals and COVID-19 testing sites. National Guard Photo By Shannon Mormon.

“Our primary focus is to ensure we can help these hospitals meet their capacity as they are being overrun by the perfect storm of the [COVID] variants and staffing challenges,” said Maj. Gen. John Harris, the adjutant general of Ohio.

Harris said approximately 150 of these Guard members are trained medical professionals and will help meet hospitals’ critical needs. The remaining Ohio Guard members will assist with patient transport, housekeeping and food services.

The Colorado National Guard is working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to support long-term care facilities hit by COVID-related staffing shortages.

“Our Soldiers and Airmen are working their tails off,” said Army Maj. Matthew Bickel, the senior physician assistant with the Colorado Army National Guard’s 928th Medical Company (Area Support). “This is a very dynamic mission in terms of staffing. It’s a daily shuffle to position our members in the facilities with the highest need. We are truly serving the people of Colorado and our most vulnerable citizens in a time of need.”

Colorado Guard members are administering medications according to written physician orders and providing daily patient care, said Bickel, adding that about 260 Colorado Guard members are currently mobilized in support of COVID response efforts.

Maryland National Guard members are supporting the Maryland Department of Health and other state agencies by providing support to COVID testing sites, local hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, and assisting with patient transport.

“This is our third calendar year battling this virus, and we are very prepared to take on these missions,” said Army Brig. Gen. Adam Flasch, director of the Maryland National Guard’s joint staff. “Our Soldiers and Airmen will help create some additional bandwidth for the frontline medical workers, who are out there doing a tremendous job supporting Marylanders.”

National Guard Medical Support
Army Sgt. Michael Melendez Lopez, 248th Engineer Company heavy equipment operator, directs traffic at a state-supported COVID-19 testing site in Middletown, Connecticut, on Jan. 6, 2022. The Connecticut National Guard supported 24 testing sites throughout the state in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Steven Tucker.

The New Hampshire National Guard has 95 Airmen and Soldiers filling administrative and food service roles in 13 hospitals in the state.

“They have really been a lifesaver,” said Connie Gregoire, part of the food and nutrition staff at Exeter Hospital in Exeter, New Hampshire. “They came in and started doing a lot of the stuff we just don’t have the time to do because of manpower.”

In Connecticut, approximately 250 Connecticut National Guard members have been activated to assist at 24 testing sites and distribute test kits and masks at five regional distribution points in the state. In addition, Connecticut Guard members are supporting logistics operations at the state’s commodities warehouse in New Britain— the hub for statewide distribution of testing supplies and personal protective equipment.

“I volunteered for this mission so I could help provide access to medical services that are so critical right now,” said Pfc. Stefanie Charpentier, a combat medic assigned to the Connecticut Army National Guard’s 141st Medical Company. “The Guard is ready to help, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to support our neighbors here in Connecticut.”

Faris said she is proud of the compassion and commitment National Guard members have demonstrated throughout the enduring COVID response.

“Wearing the uniform [as a National Guard member] signifies an obligation to support our state and nation, anywhere and anytime,” said Faris. “The National Guard will continue to support our communities in the fight against COVID wherever and whenever we’re needed.”

Read Next: Shia LaBeouf Drank All the Whiskey, Chased a Marine, and Went to Jail — and It’s Hilarious

Coffee or Die
Coffee or Die

Coffee or Die is Black Rifle Coffee Company’s online lifestyle magazine. Launched in June 2018, the magazine covers a variety of topics that generally focus on the people, places, or things that are interesting, entertaining, or informative to America’s coffee drinkers — often going to dangerous or austere locations to report those stories.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
How the Bazooka Gained Infamy as a Tank-Buster

Named after a musical instrument, the Bazooka proved to be a highly effective weapon for American troops, including one maverick pilot, throughout multiple wars.

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall (center) delivers testimony during a House Appropriations Committee hearing in the Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
Home to Glenn, Armstrong, Wrights Perfect Spot for Space Command HQ, Ohio Lawmakers Say

Ohio lawmakers pitch their state as the new location for Space Command headquarters.

Soflete: How This Veteran-Led Company is Changing Military Fitness Culture

In 2014, Soflete’s co-founders saw workout overkill hurting their peers as they prepared for selecti...

glock 19
Glock 19: Origin Story of a Legendary Pistol

Get to know the Glock 19 — how it works, who uses it, and why it’s one of the most popular handguns in the US.

afghan soldier asylum
Afghan Soldier Who Helped US Weathers Injuries, Uncertainty in Asylum Bid

Afghan soldier who assisted the U.S. now faces uncertainty in bid for asylum.

The Dirty Dozen
‘The Dirty Dozen’: Meet D-Day’s Real Rogue Commandos

The Dirty Dozen was based on a real team of rule-breaking elite paratroopers who jumped into France ahead of D-Day.

d-day 79th anniversary
Normandy Marks D-Day's 79th Anniversary, Honors World War II Veterans

This year's D-Day tribute to the young soldiers who died in Normandy is not only a chance to honor t...

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved