25,000 'Soldiers For Life' Respond to Nation's Call
by Thomas Brading, Army News Service
May 3, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, many civilian medical
providers' capabilities are being stretched thin. To help fill this
gap, the Army has deployed its own medical professionals to the
field and is now calling on former soldiers to join the battle.
In March 2020, the Army reached out to about 800,000 retired
"gray-area" and Individual Ready Reserve soldiers, asking them to
join the response effort.
As of April 10th, roughly 25,000 from
numerous backgrounds had volunteered to rejoin the Army team, said
Brig. Gen. Twanda E. Young, U.S. Army Human Resources Command deputy
commanding general and reserve personnel management director at Fort
Many nonmedical respondents volunteered through the
command’s website, Young said. Once screened, qualified individuals
will provide additional capabilities to support the COVID-19
pandemic response, she said.
April 6, 2020
- Army Spc. Montana Naccarato, assigned to the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, checks a motorist’s identification at a drive-through COVID-19 sampling site outside the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, NY. (U.S. Air
Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Madden, New York Air National Guard)
"This effort seems very simplistic — soldiers volunteer and we
just bring them back on active duty — but it requires a specialized
team of professionals knowledgeable in reserve policy, which the
reserve personnel management directorate provides," Young said.
This is a herculean
effort, she added. "We understand the urgency," she said, "thus, we
are working multiple shifts to sift through screening volunteers to
get them at the point of need."
Soldiers who are currently
licensed in medical fields are preferred, but Army officials are
encouraging all soldiers to step up in the fight against COVID-19.
"Army health care providers are heroes in the fight against
COVID-19. Protecting our citizens from the novel coronavirus
requires a vital call to action, and we need the help of many of our
retired or recently separated medical professionals," Army officials
stated in a news release.
However, the Army doesn't plan to
mobilize veterans currently in medical jobs, Young said.
individuals are already serving in their local communities, we are
proud of their service, and want them to continue serving in those
communities, as this effort is not to detract from current community
support, but to enhance it," she said.
may include medical students, retired doctors, or former soldiers
not involved in the medical community. Key medical military
occupational specialties needed include critical care nurses,
anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, critical care nurses, nurse
practitioners, emergency room nurses and respiratory specialists,
Young said. Who is accepted and where they will go is decided case
by case, depending on the Army's needs of the Army, she added.
Although 25,000 former soldiers have stepped up to the plate so
far, Young said, she expects that number to continue to increase as
more people reach out every day.
"When we talk about someone
being a soldier for life, I don't think you can get any better
example than these individuals," she said. "These soldiers are
willing to rejoin the team and continue to serve."
After HRC receives volunteer requests, officials sift through and
validate initial requests, then sort them by specialty, Young said.
The duration of the orders is open-ended.
individuals who are putting their lives on hold," Young said. "Even
though we want to get them on as quickly as possible, we have to
take into consideration they must get life affairs straight and give
them the necessary time."
After combing through volunteers'
credentials, the next step is matching them to what the Army needs,
then getting the volunteers on orders, Young said.
vetting process works like a funnel, Young said, and filters the
volunteers into smaller numbers based on their credentials,
requirements, background checks and capabilities. Occasionally,
"life happens," and some qualified volunteers are unable to commit
to the Army's requirements.
The goal is to get volunteers
on-board quickly so the Army can get them to the places where their
skills, expertise and knowledge are needed the most, Young said.
April 7, 2020 - Brig. Gen. Twanda E. Young, left, deputy commanding general of Army Human Resources Command and reserve personnel management director, discusses strategies to bring soldiers back into the force at Fort Knox, KY. (U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Mary Ricks)
"Requirements are changing for what is needed," she said. "When
we talk to soldiers and explain that we are looking to bring them
on, we caveat that statement by ensuring they understand this is at
the point of what the Army needs, and acceptance to be recalled is
Individuals who don't volunteer are no less of a
soldier for life, Young said. "Our word is that we will take care of
soldiers and make sure that they and their families are taken care
of," the general added.
These soldiers have gone through the
gauntlet, she said, and the Army is proud of their service. They are
skilled to operate in some very uncertain and complex times.
"It makes me proud to be a soldier — not just a general officer —
but a soldier in America's Army, to see the level of commitment and
dedication of those currently serving and those who have served, and
their willingness to rejoin the team," Young said.
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