by Monica Sager, Intern, Susan Davis International
As citizens across the country grapple with restrictions and the unknowns imposed upon them from the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. military, including the National Guard, is working behind and on the scenes to combat the virus and provide humanitarian assistance.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus in this country, the U.S. government has committed more than $775 million in assistance specifically aimed at fighting the pandemic.
The U.S. Army, for example, has shifted to focus on combating COVID-19 through protecting the force, posturing to maintain global operational readiness, and supporting the national effort to fight against the pandemic. Researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases continue to work on medical countermeasures for the virus. They’re working as part of the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 research effort to find vaccines, treatments and better ways to test for coronavirus.
The National Guard has been called up in states across the country to help fight coronavirus in their communities. As many as 47,000 members of the National Guard have been involved in supporting response efforts. At Susan Davis International, we’re keenly aware of the role the National Guard and Reserve plays in matters of domestic crises, having worked closely for over ten years with the DoD agency that exists to support our reserve component: Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
Each state has its own National Guard, under the command of the Governor, although there are provisions under which the President of the United States can call out the National Guard for service as well.
In communities like Salisbury, Maryland, the National Guard has been on the ground, hands-on to aid the residents in their efforts to fight and stay safe from the virus. The Maryland National Guard initiated a multi-week mission to prepare and deliver meals to the homeless displaced due to the pandemic. Five soldiers from the 115th Military Police Battalion cooked and served more than two dozen dinners daily to the homeless in Lake Street Park.
Other initiatives that the National Guard has committed to during the pandemic include:
- Worked with the medical staff at state prisons in Ohio
- Distributed more than 30,000 pounds of food in North Carolina
- Delivered water by truckloads in New Mexico
- Established a food distribution center and trained the public to properly use PPE in West Virginia
- Helped New York City medical examiners
- Shared test results in multiple languages
- Assisted farmers in North Carolina
- Opened COVID-19 testing sites in Pennsylvania
- Made face masks in Texas
While our military works to support the nation’s citizens, the military community is also experiencing effects from the pandemic themselves. As of April 28, a Booz Allen survey found that 18 percent of military spouses had lost their jobs and 10 percent were struggling to pay off student loans during this pandemic. Over 40 percent of veteran families needed financial assistance, with 36 percent needing mental health care and 25 percent needing grocery delivery or curbside pickup.
The pandemic remains a challenge that requires the resources of a whole nation. The National Guard is one of our greatest assets and is, “Always Ready, Always There.”