As Michigan National Guard Soldiers and Airmen come together from across the state to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, many of them need someplace to stay. They can keep themselves and their families safe by taking extra steps and practicing social distancing.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer activated the Michigan National Guard on March 18th. Since then, Guardsmen from across the state have been serving their neighbors and communities during these challenging times.
“I think in times of dire need the ability to give support, and the ability to provide the humanitarian efforts is really what the National Guard is designed for,” said Sgt. Quintin Shine. “That’s why people look for us in times of need, they look toward us to be that ‘safety net’ for them and to continue helping them with their daily lives. One of the reasons why I joined the National Guard is to help and serve my community as well as my country.”
Shine is the supply non-commissioned officer in charge for the 272nd Regional Support Group based out of Jackson, Michigan. He, along with many others from his unit, was called up to provide support for the other guardsmen who were activated. They are operating Joint Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration (JRSOI) sites, which serve as a base of operation for those supporting the COVID-19 response. In addition, they are also provided daily medical checkups.
“The biggest challenge is first to protect the force, protect the mission, and protect our Soldiers. We are thinking deliberately as we set up operations,” said Maj. Ryan Davis, the operations officer for the 272nd RSG.
When entering the hotel, guard members must first wash their hands. As soon as they come through the doors, they are screened by the medics to ensure they have not developed any symptoms. Markings on the floor assist in maintaining social distancing.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for our staff to be able to provide support for the State of Michigan, and help our communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This lines up directly with what our unit does, and our ability to stand up in any situation,” said Davis.
What makes things different in this particular situation is that the JRSOI has set up base in hotels. It also makes it easier for the guardsmen to practice social distancing as well as precautionary hygiene that they must now practice, rather than placing large groups in field tents. While the hotel is operating with only essential workers, the JRSOI is coordinating with the hotel to provide laundry service twice a week along with other general maintenance.
“The main reason for us to stay at the hotel is to make sure that safety is the biggest concern, especially with everyone going out into the community. The last thing we need is for one of our guard members to risk passing it along to their family members,” said Shine.
For the local Soldiers who live alone, self-monitoring has been implemented. These additional measures are imperative to ensure the safety of the guardsmen and the communities they serve.
“It’s great that we’re taking care of our Soldiers and supporting the community,” said Maj. Michael Garrett, 272nd RSG medical officer.
Garrett is overseeing the medics working in the JRSOI sites. He, along with other physicians in the Michigan National Guard have been on board since the governor first activated the National Guard and they are in constant communication with each other discussing the virus and ways to help mitigate risk.
“I think we have a lot of good plans in place for helping to flatten the curve of the spread of COVID-19 in the state of Michigan,” said Garrett. “I’m very confident in our ability to support the governor, and the citizens of Michigan.”
Michigan, along with the rest of the country, is trying to prevent further spread of COVID-19. The Michigan National Guard is out there helping the community while maintaining safe guidelines themselves. Right now, there are three of these sites in Michigan. If the need arises the guard is ready to provide additional sites for support. (Michigan Army National Guard story by Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera/Released)