COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Soldiers with the 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-based Midcourse Defense) received the first series of the COVID-19 vaccine at Buckley Air Force Base in two waves Jan. 13 and 21, 2021.
The vaccine was made available to the 100th Brigade through the Colorado National Guard for service members prioritized as strategic and nuclear deterrence forces. The purpose of administering the vaccine is to ensure the health, safety, and morale of service members and their families.
U.S. Army Col. Mike Hatfield, 100th Missile Defense Brigade commander, said that vaccinating Soldiers is the first step for the unit to return to as close to normal operations as possible.
“I think it’s extremely important to vaccinate to protect our Soldiers and families and to ensure the continuance of our mission,” Hatfield said.
The 100th Missile Defense Brigade executes the ground-based midcourse defense mission – the only mission in the Department of Defense to defend the United States and designated areas from intercontinental ballistic missile attacks using ground-based interceptors.
Throughout 2020 and for most of the pandemic, the 100th Brigade has maintained this mission by taking aggressive steps to protect Soldiers. This was formalized by a mission assurance program with four pillars: safety, quality of life, flexibility, and fiscal responsibility.
Designated GMD Soldiers have spent much of the last year intermittently sequestered away from their homes and families. These Soldiers are limited in number and highly trained to perform unique duties that require them to be certified as a crew to accomplish the mission at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Telework is not an option for these Soldiers, so they became deployed in place.
100th Brigade Soldiers were given the option to receive the vaccine. One Soldier, Army 1st Lt. Jeremy Getz, a current operations officer on a missile defense crew in Colorado, said he chose to receive the vaccine to protect himself and his family, and return to normal life. Getz said he has spent more than 130 days sequestered away from his family since April 2020.
“COVID started when my wife was at the end of the third trimester of her pregnancy with our first child,” said Getz. “My hope is to get back with my family.”
The 100th Missile Defense Brigade developed an order of merit list to prioritize all current and future crew personnel to receive the initial dose of the vaccine. These Soldiers will receive their vaccine booster in the coming weeks. This will be followed by a 30-day assessment period to monitor and track Soldiers for any adverse reactions. Pending a review by the command, modifications to work cycles may result.
Hatfield said he is thankful for the COVID vaccination efforts and the support of both the Colorado National Guard and U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and that he is optimistic about the future.
“We’re to looking forward to reassessing our COVID mission assurance protocols,” said Hatfield. “We've been leveraging virtual resources to communicate, but it is not a substitute to personal relationships. Command Sgt. Maj. Robinson and I look forward to resuming our battlefield circulation to see the dedicated professionals of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade as they protect this great nation.”