FLINT, Mich. – For one Michigan National Guard Citizen-Soldier, a mission of national importance is happening right at home.
U.S. Army Maj. Michelle Hill, a nurse with the Joint Force Headquarters State Surgeon's office, Michigan Army National Guard, is serving on Michigan's Task Force Spartan COVID-19 Vaccination and testing Teams (CVTT). She is helping administer the vaccines in her hometown of Flint.
"As a lifelong Flint resident, I have served my community on various projects as a community health nurse in the civilian sector, and now returned to serve during COVID-19 as a Citizen-Soldier," Hill said.
Michigan National Guard (MING) CVTTs are working across the state supporting the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' fight against the virus. One team partnered with the Genesee District Health Department in Flint to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to residents at eight pop-up vaccination centers in January and February. More than 4,000 eligible residents were vaccinated.
After graduating from the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Nursing in 2010, Hill joined the Michigan Army National Guard as a direct commission officer in the Army Medical Detachment (AMEDD) as an Army nurse.
"Nothing has been more fulfilling than to administer the lifesaving vaccine to my fellow neighbors in the very school parking lot I graduated from in 1993, Northwestern High, Flint," Hill said.
Kimberly Vanslyke, the lead director of nursing for the Genesee County Health Department Immunization Program, has worked with Hill and the CVTTs at numerous pop-up vaccination events.
"Our staff of health care providers could never have accomplished the job to this point without the Guard, so we truly appreciate the assistance they have contributed," Vanslyke said.
Hill has administered hundreds of COVID-19 vaccine doses since her CVTT mission started Dec. 13.
After health departments across the state transitioned from testing for the COVID-19 disease to administering the COVID-19 vaccine, many have expressed a positive response.
"The warm embrace and appreciation received from patients fills my spirit with joy knowing I am participating in the initiative to stomp out the spread of COVID-19," Hill said. "Our job is only half done. All those vaccinated will come back for their second dose, and I will be happy to see them again."
Despite the mask covering her face, Hill's smile is evident to everyone entering the drive-up event to receive their vaccine.
"I have worked very close with Maj. Hill during this pandemic and I am inspired by the commitment she has to her community," said U.S. Army Capt. Ronald Smith, a physician assistant in the MING and the officer in charge of several Task Force Spartan CVTTs. "We are continuing to build relationships within the Flint communities thanks to the entire team's commitment, and we are making an extraordinary impact."
Both Task Force Spartan teams and Genesee County Health Department employees and volunteers work side-by-side daily, with uniforms the only notable difference.
"We have learned so much by teaming up with our MING counterparts," Vanslyke said. "Along with the MING CVTT's, we also have many community volunteers with various levels of health care experience. The level of effort and passion that Maj. Hill has for helping her communities is amazing to witness."
For Hill, being a part of the state's Task Force Spartan CVTT team couldn't be more meaningful.
"I graduated from MSU as a Spartan and now serving with Task Force Spartan for the MING - I'm a Spartan at heart," Hill said.