DALLAS – 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armor Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Soldiers deployed to Dallas, Texas, Feb. 19, 2021 to assist Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the state-run, federally-supported Fair Park COVID-19 Community Vaccination Center.
FEMA was authorized to support vaccination administration locations within underserved communities across the U.S. and its territories. Through a federal validation process, it was determined that Department of Defense personnel could assist in the national effort to help vaccinate American community members.
Denise Bordelon, the deputy division director of response at FEMA Region Six, said that she was happy to see the military working alongside FEMA and volunteer vaccine site workers.
“The Army Soldiers that are doing the vaccinations are extremely professional,” she said. “They’re doing a wonderful job and we appreciate them.”
The former U.S. Navy chief petty officer received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from a servicemember and spoke on what led her to want to receive the vaccine.
“I think like everybody else, we, vaccine recipients, want a certain level of protection,” Bordelon said. “It’s also a part of my job to work with the general public quite a bit. So I want to make sure they’re protected as well.”
Capt. Jendy Weppler, a physician with 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armor Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, said that her more than eight years of medical experience helped prepare her to assist in supporting the vaccination center.
“I was one of the first to receive the vaccine as a healthcare worker,” Weppler said. “Before coming to Dallas, servicemembers completed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 training on how to administer the vaccine.”
Weppler also spoke about the military’s role in supporting the vaccination center in Fair Park, which opened to the local community Feb. 22.
“As a whole, we’re supporting FEMA, the county and state, by increasing their efficiency at getting vaccinations into the arms of (people),” she said.
Weppler said that as the service members continue to work alongside FEMA and volunteer vaccine center workers, they will administer as many vaccines as possible to the local community each day.
On the center’s opening day, over 6,000 total vaccinations were administered, and on Feb. 25, almost 5,000 vaccinations were administered before 2 p.m.
“We’re proud and happy to be here,” Weppler said.