HONOLULU, Hawaii – In March of 2020, the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by immediately implementing measures that would aid in ensuring the safety of all Soldiers and civilians. In addition to being required to wear a face mask and exercising social distancing in the work place, it was mandated that they would be operating with minimum manning to lessen the chances of the virus spreading through their formation.
In accordance with the state of Hawaii, the stay at home order was put in place and the 94th AAMDC followed state, military laws and orders. This included only essential personnel would physically come into work or work remotely, as well as essential travel only.
With more time away from the office, many people found themselves with a lot more time than usual. During the pandemic, there were some Soldiers that used this time to begin to invest in themselves, starting gardens, spending quality time with their family and educating their children beyond the classroom and other fruitful ventures.
One of the biggest challenges during this time was the fact that kids could not go to school for safety reasons, but for Sgt. 1st Class Monique Rincon, the Intelligence Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, assigned to the 94th AAMDC, homeschooling her kids would not be easy, but it was something they could overcome.
“Homeschooling was a big adjustment for us,” Rincon stated. “I was thankful for my son’s teacher because she was able to create lessons via video chat and allow the children to ask questions.”
Although they were learning educational lessons, they would also learn lessons about family that school cannot teach.
“All we have is each other,” she said. “Not only do I love my family, I actually like them.”
Similar to Rincon, Sgt. 1st Class Luis Gomez, the 94th AAMDC Staff of General Staff NCOIC also used this time to spend with his family, as well as starting new hobbies.
“If there were to be a “best part” of COVID-19, it definitely would have to be the amount of time that we got to spend with our girls,” said Gomez. “Being dual military eats up a lot of our time, the last few months helped us get back some of that lost time with our girls.”
In addition to making up for lost time with this family, they also found fruitful hobbies.
“The latest activity that we have started is gardening,” he said. “We have New Mexican Hatch chilies and different other peppers growing so we can roast them in the Fall.”
While those with families used some of this time to invest in their families, others have used this time to invest in themselves and create a secondary source of income.
Spc. Billie Underwood, a Human Resources Specialist assigned to the 94th AAMDC used much of his time to create a vinyl wrapping business. His business includes wrapping vehicles, cabinets, furniture and many other things.
“Initially it was just a hobby, but my water heater and A/C unit both crashed,” stated Underwood. “I realized I could make decent money to fix up my house.”
While his business is still garnering its following, he plans to continue to invest in himself and business well beyond the pandemic.
“My plans are to expand the business by possibly renting a larger garage space instead of working from home,” he remarked. “I would like to eventually have more competitive prices with my increased experience.”
While the pandemic continues, Underwood plans to use the lessons he learned by creating his business and applying them to other areas of his life.