Nevada National Guard ends COVID-19 response activation after exactly 2 years
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - It became a familiar sight in Las Vegas over the past two years: men and women in camouflage uniforms, helping medical teams. The Nevada National Guard mostly worked COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites during their pandemic response activation.
“The Nevada Guard has never been busier or more visible than it’s been the last two years” National Guard Public Affairs Officer Emerson Marcus said.
Neighbors helping neighbors is how the Nevada Guard described their work for this community cause.
About 80% of the force are citizen soldiers. That means they have regular jobs or are students on top of their service.
“I think it’s been a terrific opportunity to help the community in that way,” Nevada Guard Lt. Chaz Fernandez said. “There’s been times where it’s been pretty stressful, but I think the majority of the members of the National Guard feel the same way.”
Fernandez, a Las Vegas native, has spent nearly two years working the pandemic response. He said those most stressful moments working long hours with no breaks came late December to early January at the mass testing sites.
“It was nonstop. You had lines for miles,” Fernandez said.
Servicemembers also supported food distribution sites, alternative care facilities and helped in warehouses and contact tracing, among other duties during the pandemic. They were assisting within the community like never before.
“That integration - we can’t lose it,” Nevada Division of Emergency Management Incident Commander Brett Compston said. “It just has to be part of the way we do business moving forward.”
There were requests for the guard’s help in schools, but as FOX5 has reported, those were denied. It was partly due to a lack of resources.
Fernandez’ pitch to potential new recruits: it pays for school and benefits. He said he has gained friends and, most importantly, knows he’s helped the town he grew up in.
“I’ve been able to help my fellow citizens, and see them be helped by our organization,” Fernandez said. “We’re always prepared to respond to whatever the governor or president asks of us.”
The Nevada Guard’s COVID-19 response activation officially ended April 1. However, Nevada Guard leaders said when called upon, they’ll be ready to quickly return.
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