61st MMB supports MNARNG with COVID-19 testing

By Maj. Jino CaroAugust 12, 2020

Taking Sample from a Soldier
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A medical professional from the 581st Medical Company Area Support collects a sample during drive-thru COVID-19 testing. (Photo Credit: Ltc. Dean A. Stulz) VIEW ORIGINAL
Drive-thru Sample Collection
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The 581st Medical Company Area Support collects samples using a drive-thru COVID-19 testing for Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers. (Photo Credit: Ltc. Dean A. Stulz) VIEW ORIGINAL
Mass Testing for COVID-19
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Medics from the 581st Medical Company Area Support test Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers while following safe social distancing protocols. (Photo Credit: Ltc. Dean A. Stulz) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP RIPLEY, Minnesota – The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the Unites States Armed Forces have maneuvered over the last few months. As readiness operations continue around the profession of arms, protecting the health and safety of service members remains a top priority.

20 Medical professionals from the 581st Medical Company Area Support (MCAS), 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 1st Medical Brigade, conducted COVID-19 testing for the Minnesota Army National Guard (MNARNG) from June 24 to July 30.

In preparation for MNARNG’s upcoming rotation to the National Training Center (NTC), the 581st MCAS ensured their Soldiers were healthy and able to support the mission without putting the health and welfare of themselves or others at risk.

During the mission, the 581st MCAS tested 3456 Soldiers. Of those Soldiers, 3317 were able to mobilize at NTC, while 139 were referred for follow-up.

Clinical nurse, Cpt. Lacy A. McGrath, 581st MCAS, was the office-in-charge and reveled in what the unit’s medical professionals were able to accomplish.

“This was a great opportunity for 61st MMB Soldiers to utilize their training and apply it to a real world situation,” McGrath said.

Sgt. 1st Class Brandon J. Mills, 581st MCAS, served as the noncommissioned officer-in-charge, and looked back at the mission with a sense of pride.

“This mission gave us the opportunity to get in the fight against COVID-19 and ensure MNARNG Soldiers preparing for a wartime mission showed up at NTC healthy and able to train,” Mills said.  “The Soldiers were excited and motivated to work for a groundbreaking mission to conduct large scale COVID-19 testing.”

Lt. Col. Dean A. Stulz, Deputy State Surgeon for the Minnesota National Guard, appreciated the support and dedication the 581st showed in support of the MNARNG.

“They did a fantastic job with communication and in executing the mission,” Stulz said.  “Their team tested approximately 3500 Soldiers without incident. This is a remarkable achievement and is a testament to the training, capability and professionalism of their unit.”

Brig. Gen. Michael Wickman, the Commanding General for 34th Infantry Division, presented coins to all the team members upon successful mission completion, and thanked the team for a job well done.

The 581st MCAS displayed the expertise that makes them a much sought after unit for support missions, and Lt. Col. Nicole C. Spears, Commander, 61st MMB Commander, praised them for their efforts.

“We are very proud of our team,” Spears said. “They were able to receive this task on short notice, deploy, execute and return safely.  They had a huge impact on the success of the operation they were given. They did an outstanding job representing 61st MMB, 1 MED BDE, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and III Corps.”