Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Military medicine confronts an invisible enemy

Image of Medical personnel set up in an outside military tent. Military and civilian healthcare personnel run the drive-thru testing center at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, as patients come to the site for scheduled evaluations and nasal swabbing. (U.S. Army courtesy photo.)

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Warrior Care | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

In recent decades, combat on the front lines for the American military has meant overseas deployments, missions with sophisticated weaponry, and deaths — mostly in lands a world away.

In 2020, a new enemy emerged, one hiding in the air we breathe. Just as deadly, it knows no borders, is silent, invisible.

This new battlefield includes intensive care units, labs, makeshift testing centers, and warehouses for masks, syringes, and thermometers. In this match, there is no specific theater of operations for the Military Health System.

“COVID-19 has been just this ever-evolving enemy that we’re fighting, and that’s a fight where we’ve shown great resilience,” said Raven Connell, a nurse with Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. “We continue to adapt and overcome all these obstacles that we’ve faced. We’ve had to completely revamp the way that we see and care for patients, and that’s no small feat in medicine.”

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Clifton Wilcox, public health emergency officer for Navy Region Southeast and Naval Hospital Jacksonville in Florida agrees. In April, as COVID increasingly affected his part of the world, Wilcox was working seven days a week and juggling three phones.

Then he was asked to join a small team of specialists to fly aboard the USS Kidd, a destroyer working off the coast of El Salvador with a third of its crew infected with the deadly virus. This was in the immediate wake of the highly publicized outbreak aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

“The virus caused the Kidd to return to port,” said Wilcox, who flew aboard the floating hot spot within a day of being notified. “So, it had effects not just on hospitals back in [the continental United States], but it affected our ability to remain operationally deployed. We had to race back to San Diego before things got out of control.”

The collective response to the pandemic underscored the MHS reputation for innovation, with practical applications beyond military medicine.

Image of Ms. Connell in hospital dress, wearing a mask
Army civilian Raven Connell is a registered nurse who was a member of the initial team that established Blanchfield Army Community Hospital’s COVID-19 Clinic earlier this year. (U.S. Army photo by Maria Yager)

Being nimble in the face of calamity “continues a long history of military medicine,” said Army Sgt. Major Esteban Alvarado, a senior enlisted leader at the Defense Health Agency. “The next year will continue to present challenges, and things will be a little different than we are used to. I have no doubt that the MHS team will continue to innovate, adapt and overcome in order to meet the mission.”

Wilcox barely had enough time to quarantine from the Kidd before being selected for special deployment to the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier in the Pacific that was looking to avoid the kind of trouble the Roosevelt experienced. His team included an internist, a critical care nurse, a respiratory therapist, an environmental health officer, and a microbiologist.

“Once the virus was onboard, we had to innovate in a way to re-establish the bubble on a ship without just going into port like the Teddy Roosevelt did,” he said. “We found a way to test the entire crew, twice.”

Wilcox and his teammates worked for 20 days at sea to bring the USS Ronald Reagan around.

“It was very challenging,” he said.

Re-invention of daily care at Ft. Campbell meant creating an outdoor and drive-through COVID clinic, with testing and triage, one that will be operating for the foreseeable future. But the usual MHS priority of military readiness did not take a back seat.

“When COVID hit, we’ve got two primary missions,” recalled Connell, who previously served as an active duty Army nurse. “Once we started getting that solid foundation for testing, evaluating, and treating patients with COVID, we had to formulate a plan to be able to still get active duty [troops] back in training. It was a large collaborative effort for Ft. Campbell to find out how we were going to get those missions to function simultaneously.”

This battle in 2020 was also unique in the way in which America’s men and women in uniform — active duty, Reserve and National Guard — worked in tandem with civilian colleagues in fighting a common enemy. The uniform was often simply a gown and tended to be powder blue or white. In lieu of helmets, COVID-19 fighters donned goggles, medical gloves, surgical masks, and N95 respirators.

For MHS professionals at all levels, working from home has rarely been an option. And while the recent news of vaccines that have proven effective in trials has been welcome, it won’t affect the short-term daily mission. “Business as usual” is a moving target.

“I have never been prouder to be a MHS professional in a collectively dynamic and inspiring team,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christina Pyeatt, an independent duty medic with the 90th Ground Combat Training Squadron at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming.

“Our Reserve and National Guard brethren have deployed to assist us with our operations as well as to other hard-hit states across the country.”

A collective effort sounds right to Raven Connell.

“In both civilian and military medicine, I think we’re all trying to figure out what that’s going to look like, because it’s becoming very apparent that [COVID-19 is] not really going anywhere anytime soon,” she said. “So, we’re trying to figure out what the new norm is going to be, and that’s a huge undertaking.”

You also may be interested in...

MSMR Vol. 14 No. 4 – July 2007

Report
1/1/2007

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Mental health encounters and diagnoses following deployment to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001-2006; Hormonal contraceptive use among female service members, active components, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2004-March 2006; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2003-June 2007; Acute respiratory disease, basic training centers, U.S. Army, July 2005-July 2007; Reportable medical events, active components, U.S. Armed Forces, June 2006 and June 2007.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 14 No. 6 – September/October 2007

Report
1/1/2007

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Routine screening and referrals for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005, U.S. Armed Forces; Relationship between influenza vaccination and subsequent diagnoses of Group A Streptococcus-related illnesses, basic combat trainees, U.S. Army, 2002-2006; Cold weather injuries, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2002-June 2007; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2003-September 2007; Acute respiratory disease, basic training centers, U.S. Army, October 2005-October 2007; Reportable medical events, active components, U.S. Armed Forces, January-September 2006 and January-September 2007; Surveillance Snapshot: Carbon monoxide poisoning, by year, U.S. Armed Forces, January 1998-September 2007.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 12 No. 5 – July 2006

Report
1/1/2006

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Heat-related injuries, U.S. Army, 2005; Hyponatremia/overhydration, active duty, U.S. Army, 1999-2006; Hepatitis B immunity among U.S. Army basic trainees, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo, July 2005-December 2005; ARD surveillance update; Pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2004-June 2006; Sentinel reportable events.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 12 No. 9 – December 2006

Report
1/1/2006

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Body Mass Index (BMI) among 18-year old Civilian Applicants for U.S. Military Service 1996-2005; Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, U.S. Armed Forces, January 1998-September 2006; Incident Abnormal Findings Within 30 Days of Medical Examinations, Active Components, U.S. Armed Forces, January 1998-October 2006; ARD surveillance update; Pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2003-November 2006; Sentinel reportable events.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 12 No. 7 – October 2006

Report
1/1/2006

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Post-deployment health reassessment (PDHRA) program, U.S. Armed Forces: responses by service and component, September 2005-August 2006; Cold weather injuries, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2001-June 2006; Hepatitis A immunity among enlisted accessions to the U.S. Army, Fort Benning, GA, April-August 2006; Incidence of mumps in relation to universal MMR vaccination versus vaccination after serological screening of U.S. military recruits, 2000-2004; Pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2004-September 2006; Sentinel reportable events; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 12 No. 8 – November 2006

Report
1/1/2006

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Medical experiences within six months of redeployment in relation to changes in self-rated health from pre- to post-deployment, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2002-June 2006; First-time episodes of care after referrals indicated during post-deployment health reassessment; Physical health concerns and exposure concerns reported on the post-deployment health reassessment form, U.S. Armed Forces, September 2005-August 2006; Pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2003-October 2006; Sentinel reportable events; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 12 No. 1 – January/February 2006

Report
1/1/2006

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Malaria, U.S. Army, 2005; Pneumonia and influenza among non-military beneficiaries of the U.S. military health system, January 2001 - December 2004; ARD surveillance update; Update: pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2003-December 2005; Sentinel reportable events.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 12 No. 2 – March 2006

Report
1/1/2006

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Medical experiences of service members within one year after returning from deployments in central Asia/Middle East, active components, U.S. Armed Forces; Numbers, rates, and patterns of hospital readmissions, U.S. Military Health System, January 2004 - January 2005; Update: pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2003-March 2006; ARD surveillance update; Sentinel reportable events.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 12 No. 6 – August/September 2006

Report
1/1/2006

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Screening for HIV-1 among soldiers in active and Reserve components, U.S. Army, and civilian applicants for military service, January 1990-June 2006; Seroprevalences and incidence rates of HIV-1 in relation to the frequency of testing, active component, U.S. Army, 2000-2005; Timing of prior HIV-1 tests in relation to dates of deployment to Southwest Asia, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001-2005; ARD surveillance update; Pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2004-August 2006; Sentinel reportable events.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 12 No. 3 – April 2006

Report
1/1/2006

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hospitalizations among active component members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005 Ambulatory visits among active component members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005; Numbers, rates, and patterns of hospital readmissions, U.S. Military Health System, January 2004 - January 2005; Update: pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2003-March 2006 Estimates of absolute and relative health care burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005; Reportable medical events, active components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005; Pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2004-April 2006; Characteristics, demographic and military, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005; Acute respiratory disease, basic training centers, U.S. Army, 1996-2005; Reportable medical events, U.S. Army medical treatment facilities, 2005; Reportable medical events, U.S. Army medical treatment facilities, April 2006.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 12 No. 4 – May/June 2006

Report
1/1/2006

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Cellulitis and abscess, active components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2002-2005; ARD surveillance update; Pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2004-April 2006; Sentinel reportable events.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 11 No. 3 – May/June 2005

Report
1/1/2005

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Mortality among members of active components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2004; Vaccine preventable diseases, active components, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-2004; Update: pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, September 2002-December 2004; Case report: Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), wife of a U.S. Service member, 2004; Sentinel reportable events; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 11 No. 4 – July/August 2005

Report
1/1/2005

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Human immunodeficiency virus, type 1 (HIV-1) antibody screening among active and Reserve component soldiers and civilian applicants for military service, January 1990-June 2005; Case reports: Malaria in U.S. soldiers after returning from Honduras and Korea, November 2004 and July 2005; Update: pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2003-August 2005; Sentinel reportable events; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 11 No. 1 - January 2005

Report
1/1/2005

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Amputations of lower and upper extremities, U.S. Armed Forces, 1990-2004; Malaria, U.S. Army, 2004; Update: pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, September 2002-December 2004; Sentinel reportable events; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 11 No. 5 – December 2005

Report
1/1/2005

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Pneumonia and influenza among active component members, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2001-October 2005; Cold injuries, active component members, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2000-June 2005; Update: pre- and post-deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2003-October 2005; Sentinel reportable events; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < ... 56 57 58 59 60  ... > >> 
Showing results 826 - 840 Page 56 of 62
Refine your search
Last Updated: November 29, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.