Although the vast majority of employees with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center are Defense Department civilians, the select few soldiers assigned there are making a significant impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.Since March, soldiers from across the ERDC have deployed around the country to aid in the fight against the pandemic, many mobilizing to hotspots to confront the unique challenges of fighting an unseen enemy."It was important for ERDC's soldiers to be given the opportunity to help their nation," said Army Col. Teresa A. Schlosser, the commander of the ERDC. "So, we immediately began sending them out to help the affected [Army Corps of Engineers] districts and divisions when we saw the need."Army 1st Lt. Eoghan M. Matthews had just begun his assignment at the ERDC's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, New Hampshire, when the pandemic broke. He was immediately sent to New York City to assist the Army Corps of Engineers New York District with construction of several alternate care facilities.The teamwork has been incredible, he said. "I arrived to a team that was already decisively engaged and was able to rapidly put me to use," he added. "Not being familiar with a conventional district, I got a crash course in the way that they operate."During his deployment, Matthews contributed to the successful delivery of four alternate care facilities that served health care professionals and more than 1,000 patients in the New York metropolitan region."Working in a crisis like this is incredibly exhilarating," Matthews said. "The urgency and the drive is fantastic — it's great being part of the solution. Going into a situation like this and making things safer for the country is exactly what I signed up for."ERDC's Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, Illinois, deployed two soldiers to assist the Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, or LRD, and the Chicago District.Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Corey K. Hill, a CERL associate technical director, served as project integrator and planner for the McCormick Place alternate care facility project in Chicago. The effort included coordinating construction support with state and city officials, McCormick Place staff, medical professionals and construction teams in order to outline requirements and finalize the project's design, which was completed well under the estimated cost. The undertaking was LRD's top priority, and Hill was recognized by Corps of Engineers senior leaders for his achievements.Army Capt. Carolyn N. Ortiz-Merced, assigned to CERL, recently served as the battle captain in the emergency operations center with the Chicago District. Her job consisted of managing operations and gathering information from each of the five district projects for daily reporting and facilitating the district commander's daily command meetings. Her efforts directly contributed to the information LRD provided to Army Corps of Engineers leadership, as well as the updates given to federal, state and local partners.Although Army Capt. Taylor D. Traversa, the financial management officer with ERDC, stayed close to home by deploying with the USACE Mississippi Valley Division's headquarters in Vicksburg, Mississippi, he experienced the Corps of Engineers' nationwide impact first-hand."[The Army Corps of Engineers] responded so quickly to the emerging threat of COVID-19 — which is unlike anything the nation has ever dealt with," he said. "I am amazed at their ability to balance a pandemic response while still handling flooding throughout the Mississippi Valley.""When I joined the Army, I never imagined I would be working in an emergency operations center responding to a pandemic," Traversa continued. "This experience has taught me that [the Army Corps of Engineers] is filled with incredibly selfless individuals who sacrifice greatly to help protect the nation from all manner of threats."For Army Capt. Patrick M. Border, from ERDC's Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, working with the Army Corps of Engineers South Pacific Division had its own challenges."South Pacific Division supported the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state and tribal governments in the fight against COVID-19," Border said. "Our site assessments identified potential locations for care facilities, and we constructed the best candidates. Most of our sites focused on high densities of COVID-19 patients or on very remote areas with limited hospital coverage.""Despite this being a new type of disaster, as opposed to extreme weather events, the emergency processes stood up well," he said. "The dedication and expertise of our military and civilian teammates really stands out after weeks of extended hours with no days off. I'd absolutely want to work for [the Army Corps of Engineers] and be part of emergency responses after my active duty service."(Carol Coleman is assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center.)Related LinksU.S. Army COVID-19 GuidanceU.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters Worldwide