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...

COVID-19 Vaccines Safety Monitoring

Infographic
6/9/2021
Graphic that assures beneficiaries that the COVID-19 vaccines are monitored for safety. Has information on how they are being reviewed. Graphics include doctors in a laboratory and a doctor with a shield fending off the virus. The MHS and TRICARE logos are on the bottom right.

Graphic that assures beneficiaries that the COVID-19 vaccines are monitored for safety. Has information on how they are being reviewed. Graphics include doctors in a laboratory and a doctor with a shield fending off the virus.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Got Your 6 - June 6, 2021

Video
6/7/2021
Video screen image for the June 6, 2021 Got Your Six video

"Got Your 6" is TRICARE's COVID-19 vaccine video series that delivers important information and updates, three times a month. It includes the latest information about DoD vaccine distribution, the TRICARE health benefit, and vaccine availability for a DoD-affiliated, and TRICARE beneficiary audience.

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Army’s 773rd administers mobile COVID-19 testing during DEF21

Article
6/4/2021
Three military personnel, wearing masks and lab coats, pose for a picture in an Albanian lab.

Approximately 800 Army Reserve soldiers from the U.S. and Europe participated in DEFENDER-Europe 21.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Readiness Capabilities

Facemask Required

Infographic
6/4/2021
COVID-19 poster showing doctors and patients in a health care setting wearing masks. The sign reads, "Masks are required in health care settings even if you're fully vaccinated. Please make sure your mask is on."

While the CDC relaxed mask requirements for vaccinated people, you're still required to wear masks in health care settings. Print this poster and put it around your facility to let patients and visitors know the requirements.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Prevent COVID-19

Mental Health Panel Discusses Impact of COVID-19

Article
6/3/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask speaking on a panel

Walter Reed Bethesda hosts mental health panel to discuss the impacts of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | Psychological Fitness

Based on data, MHS experts encourage vaccines for adolescents

Article
6/1/2021
Sister and brother smiling at each other

With the Pfizer vaccine approved for youth ages 12 to 15, MHS adolescents are lining up to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Children's Health | Vaccine Eligibility

VAX Facts: Which Vaccine is Right for Me?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins talks about the importance of getting the first vaccine available to you. Don't hold out for a certain brand; they're all safe and effective.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

VAX Facts: Breastfeeding after the COVID-19 Vaccine

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins encourages people who are breastfeeding to get the vaccine. Since the vaccine doesn't contain live virus, you can't pass COVID to your baby.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

What is an mRNA vaccine?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins explains how mRNA vaccines work to protect you from COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

VAX Facts: Do I Need the Vaccine if I Had COVID?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins talks about the importance of getting vaccinated even if you already had COVID. We're not sure how long natural immunity lasts, so getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Are mRNA vaccines safe?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins explains the years of research and ongoing monitoring to show how mRNA vaccines are safe and effective.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

“Shots in arms” – OPT planned & coordinated to meet COVID-19 mission

Article
5/28/2021
Military personnel sitting around a table talking

The Department of Defense’s COVID-19 Operational Planning Team has been the quiet force behind the DOD’s vaccination effort since November.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Vaccine Leader Card

Publication
5/27/2021

This printable card provides talking points when discussing the COVID-19 vaccine with servicemembers who are reluctant or indifferent to accepting the vaccine. The card lists common concerns and impressions, top 5 key messages, and supporting facts about the vaccine.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | COVID-19 Vax Facts

COVID-19 Vaccination Card Second Shot

Infographic
5/27/2021
Graphic saying that keeping track of your vaccination card is important. Includes a helpful tips section, a link to www.tricare.mil/covidvaccine, and what to do when you didn’t get your vaccination card or don’t have a copy. The TRICARE logo is on the bottom right of the page.

Keep track of your vaccination card. Tips include keeping your card on you and taking a picture of it as a backup copy.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Costs and Documentation | Coronavirus

Adolescents ages 12 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations

Article
5/27/2021
Son of military personnel receiving his COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer vaccine now authorized for children 12 and older.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 76 - 90 Page 6 of 43

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.