By Vannessa L. Josey
USAG Natick Public Affairs
NATICK, Mass. – Brig. Gen. James Bienlien, the Natick Soldier Systems Center senior commander, hosted an impromptu ceremony Feb. 24 to honor the medical team spearheading the COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
Bienlien presented seven staff members with commander’s coins earmarking their hard work getting the vaccine to the installation workforce.
“What a great privilege it is to be able to honor all of you who have selflessly served as the front line on this task force,” Bienlien said.
Command teams from West Point’s Keller Community Hospital, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Fort Devens and the Natick Garrison presented coins.
Victoria Juncker, an occupational nurse, was a recipient of one of the coins and, in addition, leaders also presented her with an Army Civilian Achievement Medal and a $500 on-the-spot award for all of her contributions.
“Mrs. Juncker is deeply committed to the mission,” Col Amy Jackson, Keller Community Hospital commander said. “She is extremely diligent and a true professional in all her work.”
Juncker was instrumental as the point of contact for COVID vaccine distribution for both Natick and Fort Devens and keeping senior leaders apprised to the planning and implementation of vaccine distribution process. This process is key for the medical history intake and screening for all increased risk personnel who opted in
“Mark Twain once said, ‘Always do right. This will gratify some, and astonish the rest.’ This group has been doing right for many years now, and today’s ceremony is just a small token of an appreciation,” said Col. Troy Morton, the USARIEM commander.
“On behalf of a grateful community, I am truly honored to do the right thing – to stand before you to honor and publicly recognize the service and sacrifice of these dedicated people,” said Morton.
Spc. Isabel Leon, a healthcare specialist with USARIEM, who has been in the Army for two years, said she was at a loss of words over the recognition.
“I am deeply honored and humbled. This definitely caught me by surprise,” she said. “I don’t do this for the accolades. I do this to take care of our fellow service members.”