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

National Guard and Reservists doing their part to fight COVID-19

Military personnel performing nasal swabs of people in a row of cars Air Force Staff Sgt. Misty Poitra, in blue, and Air Force Senior Airman Chris Cornette, both of the 119th Medical Group, collect throat swabs during COVID-19 rapid drive-through testing in Fargo, North Dakota. In the background, North Dakota Army National Guard soldiers gather test subject data. (Photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp, Air National Guard.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Before the COVID-19 crisis, Army Col. Brian Keller, a nurse with the North Dakota Army National Guard, was quietly at work, doing what he always did.

“I’m a full-time National Guardsman, so I was working on readiness, making sure soldiers are deployable,” he said. “That’s my full-time job.”

But early in 2020, his other titles came much more into play: Deputy state surgeon, and deputy commander of the State Medical Detachment for North Dakota.

“From Day One when we stepped up to do the testing for the community, we did have [help from] some public health people from [the Southwestern District Health Unit Medical Center in Dickinson, North Dakota], but we didn’t know what we didn’t know,” Keller recalled. “We just knew we had to jump into this battle and start testing and see what we could find. That’s if we could find any of the virus, and that’s why we picked that small town.”

That would be the town of Amidon, a tiny blip on the southwestern part of North Dakota. In March, when Keller and his team started there, they were filling out three pieces of paper per person tested – outside, in winter, on the prairie.

“It took a long time,” Keller said, with distinctive Midwestern understatement.

These days, people coming for testing simply hand over their driver’s license so that an electronic tablet can do that work for them, producing a bar-coded label that goes right on a patient sample. Another system involves a pre-registration site where people drive up and simply give their names and birth dates.

“We can do 1,000 tests in just a couple hours,” Keller said.

Just months ago, it took six to seven hours for 300 tests, tops. It was an example of ingenuity taking place all over the country, with members of the Military Health System partnering with civilian hospitals and clinics.

Around the nation, by mid-March there were 18 labs performing about 10,000 tests per week for DOD beneficiaries receiving care at military medical treatment facilities, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist said in remarks at the annual AMSUS meeting, The Society of Federal Health Professionals.

“The department is now completing 70,000 tests per week, operates 158 operational laboratories and has completed over 1.7 million COVID tests on DOD beneficiaries,” Norquist said. “This is thanks in part to our National Guard members who provided testing support in multiple states.”

He added that more than 60,000 service members have been involved in the fight against the virus in all states and territories.

Other examples of large efforts that involved unusual mission shifts in 2020 include the deployment of U.S. Navy hospital ships (the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy) that provided support to Americans in New York City and Los Angeles, respectively, who were affected by the pandemic. Navy medical professionals on both ships assisted local health care providers by offering care to patients who did not have the virus — freeing local hospitals and clinics to treat COVID-19 patients. The operation was led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with U.S. Northern Command and Military Sealift Command.

In Mississippi, the Air Force had to develop a new process to ensure the prevention of COVID among service members set to be deployed into the U.S. Central, Africa and European commands’ areas of responsibility. The Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center was tasked with assisting in restriction of movement operations so that service members could comply with specified Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidance before departure. Personnel from multiple units in multiple states contributed to the effort, including Reservists and those coming from many Mississippi Air National Guard units, according to Col. Berry McCormick, the Gulfport training center commander.

Another individual on the battle lines has been Army Reserve Sgt. Major Glenn DelRosario, a registered critical care respiratory therapist. In the spring, he finished up a three-year stint with the Army Reserve Medical Command but was mobilized again in July to fight COVID and found himself in Harlingen, Texas, as part of an 86-person Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force (UAMTF).

There is a critical shortage of respiratory therapists throughout the Army, he said, so even though he worked as the chief medical NCO to the commander, he worked in a clinical role, too. The UAMTF worked with the staffs of two hospitals.

“We were working hand in hand with FEMA nurses, hospital staff, and an active-duty Navy unit that got called in as well,” said DelRosario, who added that they needed every doctor, nurse and therapist, military and civilian.

“Serving as a respiratory therapist in the Army…you knew what to expect anywhere you went,” said DelRosario, a veteran of Iraq. “Going to the civilian sector, the integration was different because they had multiple types of equipment and different protocols. Scopes of practices are different.

“You’re not carrying your M-16 and your ammo around and your body armor,” he added. “And you don’t have the extra threat level of enemy forces around you.”

“One thing about the Army Reserve is they are a special group of people,” DelRosario said. “They really are citizen soldiers who answer the call. They drop everything and go into a place they don’t know much about and overcome and get the mission done. And the community in Texas was very supportive. They did everything to take care of us, with open arms.”

The story of DelRosario and his unit in Texas would not surprise Keller, who realizes he’s still in the fight.

“Our hospitals are full, we just got some [DOD] nurses that came in to help that are working in our major cities and major hospitals,” Keller said. “The [recent spike in cases], I don’t know if it’s is just people thinking, ‘Is it the time of year again?’ People may have just got COVID fatigue and had enough of this, and not followed guidelines.”

“It’s getting overwhelming, and it’s busy and I think we’re all going to be happy when this vaccine comes out and it starts to work, and we can get back to semi-normal life. But as the North Dakota National Guard, we start something and we start hard, and we finish hard. We’re right in the middle of the whole thing, and still doing testing today.”

You also may be interested in...

Addressing emotional responses to threat of Coronavirus

Article
3/20/2020
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kathleen A. Myhre, 446th Airman and Family Readiness Center noncommissioned officer in charge, meditates outside the 446th Airlift Wing Headquarters building on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Feb. 12, 2020. Myhre traveled to India in 2016 to study to become an internationally-certified yoga instructor. She now shares her holistic training with Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 446th AW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mary A. Andom)

Even if you’re feeling healthy, medical professionals recommend staying home and limiting social contact as much as possible

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Physical Fitness | Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Life Support Training Extension

Publication
3/19/2020

The purpose of this memorandum is to set policy guidance within the Military Health System for American Red Cross life support training (First Aid/cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)/automated external defibrillator (AED), Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Life Support (ALS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Place addresses DHA COVID-19 response

Article
3/19/2020
Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, and Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, surgeon general of the Navy, discuss plans for additional COVID-19 response efforts with the Pentagon Press Corps.

Crisis Action Team part of broad-based effort

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

DoD ready to help with Coronavirus, but capability limited

Article
3/17/2020
Misook Choe, a laboratory manager with the Emerging Infectious Disease branch at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., runs a test during research into a solution for the new coronavirus, COVID-19, March 3, 2020. The Emerging Infectious Diseases branch, established in 2018, has the explicit mission to survey, anticipate and counter the mounting threat of emerging infectious diseases of key importance to U.S. forces in the homeland and abroad. (U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Walters)

The DoD has only about 2% to 3% of the number of hospital beds that the private sector has

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

How DHA monitors the spread of health outbreaks

Article
3/13/2020
The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch (AFHSB) is the central epidemiologic resource for the U.S. Armed Forces, conducting medical surveillance to protect those who serve our nation in uniform and allies who are critical to our national security interests. AFHSB provides timely, relevant, actionable and comprehensive health surveillance information to promote, maintain, and enhance the health of military and military-associated populations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb)

The Defense Health Agency works as a combat support agency to the military services and Military Health System

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

DoD issues flexible instructions on response to Coronavirus

Article
3/13/2020
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). (CDC Illustration)

The memo covers aspects from before the outbreak through all levels of infection

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

Terry M. Rauch, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.B.A. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Force Health Protection and Readiness Regarding U.S. Biodefense and Response to the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak [Testified] Before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform

Congressional Testimony
3/11/2020

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

COVID-19: Know what the terms mean

Article
3/10/2020
Soldiers stationed on U.S. Army Garrison Casey conduct pre-screening processes on individuals awaiting entry to the base, USAG-Casey, Dongducheon, Republic of Korea, Feb. 26, 2020. Additional screening measures of a verbal questionnaire and temperature check are in response to the heighted awareness of Coronavirus (COVID-19) following a surge in cases throughout the Republic of Korea and are meant to help control the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the force. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

Learning the language can help you stay safe

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | Combat Support | Coronavirus

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Article
3/6/2020
A Guardsmen with the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion conducts translation work on a safety message regarding the best practices for avoiding the novel coronavirus for the Washington Department of Health on Feb. 9, 2020 at the Information Operations Readiness Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (Courtesy Photo)

Although news stories and images contain many reports of people wearing surgical masks to ward off the virus, that's not recommended

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

DoD makes plans to combat Coronavirus

Article
3/4/2020
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speak to reporters at the Pentagon, March 2, 2020. (DoD photo Lisa Ferdinando)

The number one priority remains to protect our forces and their families

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | Combat Support | Coronavirus

MHS prepared to support interagency coronavirus response

Article
2/6/2020
Airmen assist one another in donning their personal protective equipment, while on-board an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during transportation isolation system training at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. Engineered and implemented after the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014, the TIS is an enclosure the Department of Defense can use to safely transport patients with diseases like novel coronavirus. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody R. Miller)

From R&D to force health protection, MHS protects DoD personnel and families

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

DoD releases guidance to protect forces from novel coronavirus

Article
1/31/2020
The novel coronavirus is a variant of other coronaviruses, such as this colorized transmission electron micrograph of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus particles (blue) found near the periphery of an infected VERO E6 cell (yellow). Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (Photo by NIAID)

Basic infection controls offer best defense against illness

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

Coronavirus: What providers, patients should know

Article
1/24/2020
Many forms of coronavirus exist among both humans and animals, but this new strain’s has caused alarm. (CDC graphic)

What to do now that virus has appeared in U.S.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

MHS GENESIS Patient Portal Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2019

This fact sheet describes the MHS GENESIS Patient Portal.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | MHS GENESIS Toolkit
<< < ... 41 42 > >> 
Showing results 616 - 629 Page 42 of 42

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.