VNG supports efforts to fight COVID-19 in Southwest, Central Virginia

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team provide logistics support to the Montgomery County Public Health Task Force drive-thru testing site March 31, 2020, in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Virginia Defense Force photo by WO1(Va.) Jake Crocker)

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia National Guard Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force continue to support Virginia’s COVID-19 response efforts, including planning and logistics in Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Roanoke, Virginia, and supporting at a Virginia Department of Emergency Management supply warehouse in Richmond, Virginia.

“Each of these Soldiers answered the call of Virginia and stepped up during the Commonwealth’s time of need,” said Capt. Petrus Knight, officer in charge of the Soldiers operating in the Roanoke area. “Our Soldiers have displayed a great amount of professionalism in working with local and regional authorities, and are living up to their “Citizen-Soldier” mantra. All of us in the VNG are members of this community. The people we are supporting are our family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors. We are all very grateful that we have the skills and opportunity to support our fellow Virginians during this time of crisis.”

Beginning March 30, 2020, VNG Soldiers assigned to the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team have been providing logistical support to the Montgomery County Public Health Task Force’s Mobile COVID-19 testing site in Blacksburg and supporting the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Region 6 coordination center with planning support and PPE distribution to local and regional authorities. The Soldiers, mostly from the Christiansburg-based Charlie Company, have provided daily support at the testing location while maintaining CDC-recommended safety precautions including social distancing and also assisted with warehouse operations in the area.

The testing was under the supervision of Dr. Noelle Bissell of the Virginia Department of Health’s New River Health District. Only those with a prior appointment made by their doctor, or who were pre-screened through the New River Health District call center, were permitted to enter the site for drive-thru testing, where they remained in their vehicle throughout the entirety of the process to receive appropriate testing, assessment and referral services. The testing area is staffed with medical professionals representing all the local New River Valley medical centers.

“The National Guard remains critical to supporting the commonwealth and country in times of need,” said Lt. Col. James P. Tierney, commander of 1st Battalion.  “Our Soldiers are stepping up here and other locations around Virginia to help fight the COVID-19 virus.  We continue to ensure we’re ready to respond with little to no notice to any state or federal mission.  I’m extremely proud of the team’s effort here in Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Roanoke.”

Along with VNG support, additional assistance at the testing site is being provided by the first responders from throughout the New River Valley.

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group inventory water supplied by Virginia Artesian Bottling Company at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s disaster logistics warehouse in Richmond, Virginia. (Virginia Defense Force photo by WO1(Va.) Jake Crocker)⁠

In Richmond, VNG Soldiers assigned to the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group have been providing logistics support at a disaster logistics warehouse operated by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management since March 23, 2020.

“We’re extremely proud to support VDEM in their critical COVID-19 relief efforts,” said 1st Lt. Thomas McFadden, the company’s executive officer.

The warehouse, opened and staffed by six VNG Soldiers, receives, inventories, houses and distributes supplies intended for medical facilities. Current supplies include a variety of personal protective equipment, bottled water, Meals Ready-To-Eat, hand sanitizer and cots. Many products were supplied for COVID-19 response efforts by Virginia-based companies including Virginia Artesian Bottling Company and Catoctin Creek.

The VNG conducts domestic operations as part of the coordinated multi-agency state team. During COVID-19 response operations, the Virginia Emergency Support Team provides the taskings to the VNG based on the capabilities requested by localities. The VNG does not directly respond to requests for assistance, and all localities should send the resource requests to the VEST.