FORT HOOD, Texas—When the Army asked, more than 9,000 retired Army medical personnel answered the call to help the Army in its battle against the coronavirus.
Retirees with high demand medical capabilities were asked to volunteer, except for those in medical jobs whose call-up would adversely affect their civilian communities. The idea was to assign the retiree volunteers to medical treatment facilities to augment current staff and to take on responsibilities and duties that would free up the current staff to concentrate on the response efforts.
Those that did volunteer all had their own reasons for deciding to put their lives on hold to rejoin the ranks, but as medical professionals, the main motivation was to help in whatever way they can.
Eleven retirees came to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center to serve in different capacities with a variety of different skill sets and life experiences (clinical work, medical maintenance, laboratory, plans/ops and APHN) to help with the CRDAMC mission.
“Whatever their reasons, we are most grateful for their help. This pandemic proved to be unpredictable and unprecedented. They bring the skills, training and education that is vital to our response effort in the battle against COVID-19,” said Col. Richard Malish, commander. “As military healthcare professionals, it is our nature to do all we can to help take care of Soldiers, and these retirees epitomize the Army values and are an example of selfless service.”
Lt. Col. (ret.) Janet Rogers’ motivation for coming back on active duty came from her son, a junior in high school.
“I mentioned the recall to my family and my son told me I had a moral obligation to go back on AD if I thought my skills could save someone’s life. I agreed that my 20-year career as an Army nurse practitioner and years working as a public health nurse would be of value to the Army so I decided to help,” Rogers said. Leaving her family in in Hohenfels, Germany, Rogers was assigned to the Army Public Health Nurse clinic at CRDAMC where she assisted in contact tracing and provided education for the community. “It was a great group to work with. The team you work with can make all the difference. I really think we did some great work, and I’m hopeful I impacted someone’s life in a positive way.”
Lt. Col. (ret.) Paul Consiglio was living in quiet anonymity in West Palm Beach, spending his retirement time golfing and sailing. When he heard the call, he didn’t hesitate to leave the days of leisure behind and come back on active duty.
“I thought that if whatever I could do would save the life of one Soldier, it would be worth it all,” Consiglio said. “I worked in the emergency operations center at CRDAMC and found that to be very rewarding. Everyone in the center–Soldiers, civilians, retirees—was nothing short of professional. We were a symbiotic team that delivered excellent messages and products that all helped keep our Soldiers safe and alive.”
Lt. Col. (ret.) Frank Golden, a medical operations officer, also worked in the EOC. He had 31 years in uniform and said he couldn’t refuse the recall.
“Something drew me to serve again. I had no idea where they would send me. It didn’t matter though because wherever they needed me that was where I was going to go. And I was going to do whatever they needed me to do,” Golden said. “I’m proud to have been able to serve again and help the CRDAMC team in their COVID-19 response effort. Working in the EOC, I did a lot of administrative tasks such as daily reports and special projects for the commander. They appreciated my efforts to take a lot of the workload off their shoulders.”
Most of the retirees have left or are leaving CRDAMC in October. Some may be extended a bit as the fight against COVID-19 continues. Malish is appreciative of all of their time spent at CRDAMC.
“I think it's incredible that Army medical assets from all over the country, from all walks of life, all different experiences came here on such short notice to work side-by-side with our healthcare staff. Their dedication and commitment melded with our staff to form a cohesive team which provided a vital boost to our COVID-19 response efforts. I would like to recognize, salute and thank all of them for sharing their compassion to help our community,” Malish said.