Today, more than 45,000 members of the National Guard are on duty at the direction of their governors to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. First Army is partnering with members of state National Guards through Senior Army Advisors to the Army National Guard, also known as SRAAGs. First Army manages the SRAAGs assigned to the 50 states and the U.S. territories.SRAAGs are Active Duty officers who usually advise their state's Army National Guard commander on matters such as organization, operations, training, and readiness. SRAAGs also act as the principle active component contact for the Adjutant General, or TAG, in each state and are active members of the TAG staff.Now, a handful of SRAAGs have assumed additional duties as Title 10 deputies in their state as part of the whole-of-government COVID-19 response. In this capacity, they assist in the command-and-control of assigned active federal military forces and report to a dual-status commander, or DSC. A DSC is an Army or Air Force officer who may, by law, serve in federal and state capacities simultaneously.SRAAGs in states such as Louisiana, Michigan, California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania spoke about their experiences serving as this advisor in a time when many National Guard members are mobilizing to serve their community in different capacities, while also preparing for deployment.“As the SRAAG, I’m predominantly focused on mobilization,” said Col. Kenneth Wieland, SRAAG for Pennsylvania. “I appreciate the opportunity to serve the state in another way.”Wieland said approximately 1,100 Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have taken on missions like running community-based COVID testing sites, food distribution, and hospital and long-term care facility medical support.He cited the teamwork between Reserve Component forces and government agencies as crucial to success.“The Pennsylvania National Guard and Department of Defense are in support of the state and federal agencies, serving as their partners to assist where they need us,” he said.Relationships are key in a whole-of-government response. By establishing relationships with many National Guard leaders within the state, the SRAAGs contribute to the success of the Dual Status Commander.“We as SRAAGs are uniquely positioned in these headquarters,” said Col. Mick Mineni, SRAAG for California. “We have a relationship with the Adjutant General, the staff, all the brigade commanders, and the people that will be executing missions on the ground.”Mineni has found that serving as a Title 10 deputy has enabled him to be more involved in the operational side of the Army.“As my role shifts, I’m more involved in a different aspect of what the Guard is doing, he said. “I’m even more embedded in the team and I’ve enjoyed that.”In these roles, Mineni and SRAAGs in multiple states are being given the chance to help in many capacities. Across the nation, Guard members are performing such varied duties as: Supporting warehouse operations and logistics efforts to help deliver and distribute life-saving medical equipment and critical supplies; delivering and distributing food in hard-hit communities and supporting food banks; augmenting medical staff at hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities to protect the most vulnerable populations; and working with industry and civilian partners to satisfy demand for personal protective equipment used by essential staff and first responders.The Louisiana SRAAG, Col. Dave Dinkelman, also appreciates the chance to help make a difference. He said the most rewarding aspects have been supporting the medical efforts and helping the civilian population by working with the state to get Active Duty forces where they are most needed.Dinkelman credits the quick and efficient response of Reserve Component forces to planning and preparation.“The Louisiana National Guard, because of its location in the coastal region, especially down by the gulf, has done a lot of all-hazards planning and coordination and a lot of training for that,” Dinkelman said. “They’re very well-rehearsed.”Meanwhile, Col. Shauna Hauser, Massachusetts SRAAG, is helping to coordinate nearly 1,700 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen responding to the pandemic. In her Title 10 deputy role, Hauser said her day involves many early mornings and late nights. Her main contribution, she said, is using her experience to shape planning.“I am making recommendations to the DSC based on what is going on at ground level and always trying to help her think ahead,” Hauser said.The mission has been a diverse one, she added.“They have 15 COVID testing teams that provide mobile and static testing and have tested more than 17,000 persons,” Hauser said. “They provide resource support like tentage to various state agencies to set up screening areas. They are executing warehouse management of medical supplies, to include pickup and delivery of personal protective equipment to various sites, along with other commodity distribution totaling over 1,000 transportation runs. They are providing static access control and security at various points throughout the state.”Hauser said all this requires open communication, identifying key personnel, relationship building with multiple partners, problem solving, and understanding the intricacies of the environment.Those partnerships, she continued, are ongoing.“There is not a day that goes by that we are not interacting with local, state, and federal partners to move the mission forward,” Hauser said.Col. Ryan LaPorte, Florida SRAAG, has not been tapped to serve as a Title 10 deputy, but he is still seeing first-hand the commitment that Reserve Component Soldiers are bringing to the fight against the Coronavirus.“It’s amazing to see the service, leadership, resourcefulness, and resilience being demonstrated by all our teammates and we’re focused on the whole-of-government response,” LaPorte said. “The Florida National Guard remains responsive to all federal, state, and local authorities and are prepared to execute all missions.”The Florida National Guard is supporting the Florida Department of Health, local authorities, first responders, and law enforcement agencies.About 2,800 Florida National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are mobilized in the response, which has included the establishment of testing sites, the dispatching of mobile testing teams to nursing homes, helping with airport health screenings, and providing liaisons in state emergency operations center, local emergency management offices, and command-and-control planning cells.LaPorte emphasized the importance of teamwork to the support of the mission, along with resiliency and a positive attitude.“These are extraordinary times for our nation. It’s extraordinary to witness what’s going on and to be a part of the response,” he said. “Our top priority is protecting our citizens, Soldiers, and families. We do that by making sure people have the most up to date information, know the appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus, and are following federal, state, and local guidelines to flatten the curve.”Guard Soldiers have moved seamlessly into these roles because of the time they spent training to provide defense support of civil authorities.“They are constantly training every month to be prepared to execute and I am just incredibly proud of all of them and am honored and privileged to serve with them,” LaPorte said.He added that that while keeping physical distance is necessary, Soldier welfare remains a priority.“Distancing doesn’t mean disconnecting,” he said. “We as leaders are all staying connected so we can best protect our citizens. And we maintain proactive and truthful communication to everybody.”In Michigan, Col. Jeff McDonald is helping to oversee about 800 Michigan Guard Soldiers and Airmen, whose missions include helping with food distribution, medical readiness, sanitation, warehouse operations, logistical supply chains, and medicine.“They were ready immediately. They were well-trained for this,” McDonald said. “In every case they were called to support, they were able to. They were very well prepared. There are a lot of different organizations and hospital systems that are being supported.”The infrastructure being built is a lasting one.“We are building a partnership capacity so that when the military leaves, it doesn’t collapse,” McDonald said. “They’re able to stand on their own and continue to run the mission and be successful.”Across the nation, the National Guard, Army Reserve, and Active Component are all doing their parts to protect their communities and the nation. Partnerships and experience shared across federal, state, and local channels are proving key to containing the virus. Due to their relationships, positions, and experience, SRAAGs will continue to support these efforts as long as they are needed.