National Guard Ramping Up COVID-19 Response


Specialist (SPC) Reagan Long, left, a Horizontal Construction Engineer with the New York Army National Guard’s 827th Engineer Company, and Private First Class (PFC) Naomi Velez, a Horizontal Construction Engineer with the New York Army National Guard’s 152nd Engineer Support Company, register people at a COVID-19 mobile screening center in New Rochelle, NY, on March 14, 2020. (Photo by Sergeant Amouris Coss.)

ARLINGTON, Virginia – About 2,050 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in 27 States have been activated to support COVID-19 response efforts, according to Air Force General (GEN) Joseph L. Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, who addressed reporters at a Pentagon briefing on Thursday, March 19.

At that time, GEN Lengyel said the number most likely would double by the weekend, and it is even possible that tens of thousands of Guard members could be activated as the situation unfolds, depending on the needs of communities.

By Sunday, March 22, an update was released stating all 50 States, three Territories, and the District of Columbia are engaged in combating COVID-19, and 7,300 Guard Soldiers are providing critical skills and support.

There are about 450,000 Guard troops overall, GEN Lengyel noted, who can provide logistical and other capabilities, including ground transportation, command and control, engineering services, kitchens, tents, and medical personnel.

Current National Guard COVID-19 response missions include, but are not limited to: delivering food in hard-hit communities; manning call centers to provide a knowledgeable and calming voice; providing critical personal protective equipment training and sample collection to first responders and hospital personnel; supporting local emergency management agencies with response planning and execution; providing support to testing facilities; serving as response liaisons and support to State emergency operations centers; providing transportation and assessment support to healthcare providers; assisting with disinfecting/cleaning of common public spaces; and collecting and delivering samples.

Last week, GEN Lengyel provided a snapshot of what the Guard already has been doing:

  • The New York National Guard is helping local officials distribute food, much of it in the hard-hit area of New Rochelle.
  • A Tennessee Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft delivered 500,000 swabs to be added to COVID-19 test kits in Memphis last Wednesday.
  • More than 500 Soldiers are assisting with collecting samples from drive-through testing in Broward County, FL.
  • In Maryland, the National Guard is supporting medical assessments and testing site operations.
  • The Wisconsin National Guard is supporting transportation missions for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
  • In Louisiana, Guard liaison officers are assisting the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security in emergency preparedness.
  • Across the U.S., Civil Support Teams are supporting the local departments of health with drive-through testing stations.

“With COVID-19, it’s like we have 54 different hurricanes hitting every State, every Territory, and the District of Columbia. Some are Category 5, some are Category 3, and some are Category 1. But a historic event demands a historic response ­– and that’s what you’re seeing from the National Guard,” says GEN Lengyel.


Air Force GEN Joseph L. Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, briefs Pentagon reporters on the National Guard’s response to COVID-19 on March 19, 2020. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Brandy Nicole Mejia.)

“We remain flexible and committed for whatever mission we may be called to do,” GEN Lengyel said. He noted that the governors of each State have the flexibility to use the Guard in ways they deem most fit and productive.

So far, six members of the Guard in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19, he said. Force health protection measures are in place to prevent more from contracting the virus.

If you’re interested in helping your community, find out ways you can serve part-time in the Army National Guard. Your service is rewarded in education benefits and training in careers ranging from police and protection to intelligence to medical services. Visit our job board for details and contact a recruiter for more information.

From an original article by David Vergun, DoD News, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil on March 19, 2020, with updates added.

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National Guard Gives Combat Medic Priceless Training


SPC Leannah TeKrony, Health Care Specialist in the South Dakota Army National Guard, performs preventive maintenance checks and services on her medical bag during Operation Atlantic Resolve in Grafenwohr, Germany. (Photo by SPC Tyler O’Connell.)

GRAFENWOHR, Germany – Army National Guard Specialist (SPC) Leannah TeKrony is bringing her medical expertise to Operation Atlantic Resolve in Grafenwohr.

SPC TeKrony, from the small town of Estelline, S.D., is attached to the South Dakota Army National Guard’s 1-147th Field Artillery Battalion and serves as a 68W Health Care Specialist, commonly referred to as a combat medic.

She has been drawn to the medical field and the military ever since she was a child.

“It started when I was about 8 years old,” says TeKrony. “I had a huge respect for military personnel, and I had a doctor’s outfit with a stethoscope, so I would pretend to be a military medical person.”

But SPC TeKrony had her doubts about being able to join the military.

“I didn’t understand when I was younger that women could be in the military at the time,” she says. “As I got older, I realized there are things like the National Guard and how more military occupational specialties have opened up to women. There came a point when I realized, ‘I can do that.’”

After talking to a recruiter a few times, “I felt a deep calling and I knew it was what I wanted to do, especially if I could get into the medical field.”

Job training for a Health Care Specialist requires 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training and 16 weeks of Advanced Individual Training, including practice of inpatient care. Some of the skills you’ll learn are patient care techniques, emergency medical techniques, methods of sterilizing surgical equipment, and plaster-casting techniques.

During her initial training, SPC TeKrony received three top awards: Iron Medic, Leadership Award, and Distinguished Honor Grad, and was selected for a significant leadership role in training.

“It’s a pretty difficult course,” she says. “It was the first time in my life where I was really recognized for doing what I felt was right. I was crazy humbled and honored.”

SPC TeKrony then found herself attached to the 1-147th Field Artillery Battalion, where she went on back-to-back deployments, one with each battery.

“I never wanted to just sit in South Dakota,” she says. “I never want to sit in just one place, that’s why these deployments have been great. I like to go places and do and see different things.”

Throughout her time as a combat medic, SPC TeKrony has learned a lot of medical procedures that most civilian nurses are not allowed to do.

“I’ve gotten to do sutures, cyst removal, toenail removal, wart excisions on feet and fingers,” she says. “It’s pretty amazing because a lot of the time on the civilian side, it is only the providers that are allowed to do such things.”

SPC TeKrony has been taking college classes while deployed to further her medical career. Soldiers earn benefits to help pay for education and expenses while serving their country and their community.

“I’ve definitely been drawn to a lot of specialties in my life,” she says. “After being here, I would definitely like to work in an ER; however, there is a part of me that would like to go to a more dangerous place to be able to take care of these things that happen daily, whether that be in the Army or on the civilian side.”

SPC TeKrony highly recommends anybody interested in entering the medical field to join the Army National Guard as a Health Care Specialist.

“It would be a great steppingstone into the medical career,” she says. “Not only are you more exposed on the military side, but you also get the experience to carry into the civilian side.”

With more than 130 positions in career fields ranging from Administration to Intelligence to Cyber and Ground Forces, you can find your perfect fit with the Army National Guard. Check out the job board for more information on available careers, and contact a local recruiter to learn more.

From an original article by SPC Tyler O’Connell, 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in February 2020.

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Guard Biathlete Sets Sights on World Cup, 2022 Olympics

SPC Travis Cooper of the Alaska Army National Guard. Photo courtesy Army.mil.

Specialist (SPC) Travis Cooper is a member of the Alaska Army National Guard, but he lives in Vermont, more than 4,000 miles away from his Unit. That kind of distance would probably break the record for longest commute to drill. However, he’s exempt from his monthly duty because he’s part of the Army National Guard’s Biathlon Team.

For 10 1/2 to 11 months of the year, SPC Cooper is on official orders – he’s either in training or competing in biathlons, which combine cross-country skiing with target shooting.

Even when it isn’t snowing, the Alaska native is competing in the summer version of his sport by zipping up and down paved pathways on rollerskis. In fact, SPC Cooper won the 2019 U.S. National Biathlon Rollerski Championship in August. This victory puts him one step closer to earning a starting spot in the World Cup Championships in Europe this winter as a member of his other team – the U.S. Biathlon Men’s National Team.

He’s also hoping to compete in the 2022 Olympics in Beijing – but not stop there.

“The Olympics is probably the highest goal I’d like to achieve, but I’m determined to go two or three Olympic cycles.”

SPC Cooper joined the Guard four years ago at the suggestion of a family friend and member of the Wyoming Army National Guard Biathlon Team. He was put in touch with recruiters in Alaska and, from there, the Guard’s biathlon team coaches in Jericho, Vt.

Growing up, he knew the military could be a career option – as a child he’d dreamed of becoming a Navy Seal or a firefighter, but “the Guard opportunity was too good to pass up.” He likes the challenge of competing in a physically and mentally demanding sport.

SPC Cooper chose 91L Construction Vehicle Repairer for his military occupational specialty (MOS) for strategic reasons. It came with a signing bonus, a relatively short training period, plus “it’s a pretty practical job and skill to learn. I had my sights on doing biathlon, and so anything that could get me through basic training, AIT, and back to Vermont to start biathlon the fastest was my goal.”

A competitive skier since the seventh grade, SPC Cooper, 23, made the National Guard team off the bat, despite having limited biathlon experience – he’d done a couple of camps with a local club back in Alaska. He had the skiing part down pat. It’s the marksmanship part that he finds more challenging.

“In shooting, it can change day-to-day. We have races when it’s calm out or when it’s gale-force 50-mile-an-hour winds, so we need to make sight adjustments for those winds.”

Experience is also a factor.

“There are people who’ve been shooting ten years longer than I have. Their muscle memory when it comes to holding the rifle is just so much better than mine is.”

Competitions have taken him to 13 different countries, and he’s made many friends along the way.

“Especially being a National Guard athlete, I’ve met so many people from across the country. I know Colonels from Utah and Privates from Rhode Island. The National Guard is a very big family. I like the camaraderie of it.”

When he does make it home to Alaska, about twice a year, “I’ll go check in with my Unit, even if it’s not a drill weekend, to try to make up some days and do some extra things for them.”

One of the benefits of serving in the Army National Guard is that it provides money for college. SPC Cooper plans to take advantage of that in the near future, and someday try out for the Guard’s Special Forces. But for now, biathlon “is my military and civilian career wrapped into one.”

His advice for anyone considering joining the Guard is, “Weigh all your options, but I think it’s an incredible opportunity to further yourself in life in general. I think it’s a pretty incredible organization. Determine what you want and go for it.”

And there are plenty of choices in the Army National Guard. With more than 130 MOSs, you can, for instance, be in charge of heavy weapons, provide military intelligence or medical help, keep things running smoothly in supply and logistics, and so much more. You can search our job board for details on any career. While the vast majority of Guard Soldiers serve part-time, there are also full-time opportunities. Contact your local recruiter for more information.

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