FLINT, Mich.—Born in China, Michigan Army National Guard Soldier Spc. Melissa Bellgreen arrived in the United States at age one through the international adoption process. She completed the administrative requirements and became an American citizen when she was eight. Now, as a Citizen-Soldier, she has answered her call to duty in the fight against COVID-19 as the Michigan National Guard continues supporting local health care organizations in the delivery and administration of the vaccination to Michiganders.
“I always felt like an American throughout the years, but serving as a MING Soldier has completely solidified my U.S. citizenship,” said Bellgreen. “Two years ago I put the MING uniform on and every day I get smiles and waves from complete strangers.”
Joining MING was an easy choice for her as it came with the opportunity to serve while remaining close to her family in Michigan. She became a combat medic with the 1171st Medical Company Area Support Battalion based in Ypsilanti and has served since spring 2020, with MING’s Task Force Spartan COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Team (CVTT).
Since early May 2020, the Michigan National Guard started fulfilling requests from the Michigan State Police and Michigan Department of Corrections to facilitate COVID-19 testing of inmates at many of the state’s prison facilities, ensuring the health and welfare of vulnerable populations. In the first week of operations, Guard members tested more than 7,300 inmates, as well as residents and employees of long-term care facilities.
“Being part of the first wave of mobilizations to fight the pandemic has given me the opportunity to experience the full power and speed of MING’s ability to serve the citizens of the state,” Bellgreen said.
In early January 2021, the testing teams transitioned into vaccination teams.
Conducting more than 4,000 vaccinations since January, Bellgreen expressed her appreciation for the knowledge and skills learned as a MING medic and being able to utilize those skills within her own community.
“I could not feel a closer relationship to my community since I’ve become part of the Task Force Spartan CVTT,” she said. “I enlisted to do more in my community and serve my country and that’s exactly what I’m doing!”
Others have noted her contributions to the task force and to the mission.
“I have been working with Bellgreen as her site leader and she is dependable, works well with county health workers, and is enthusiastic about her mission,” said Spc. Charles Bates, an electrician for the 1436th Engineering Company, Montague, Michigan, now serving with Task Force Spartan.
For her civilian employment, Bellgreen works for Genesee County as a certified Emergency Medical Technician in Flint. As she balances both her military and civilian careers, Bellgreen plans to continue to advance her education at Purdue University Global studying computer science and has further ambitions with her military service as an active-duty U.S. Army service member.
The COVID-19 response mission has given Bellgreen direction in helping shape her educational path. “I fully intend on taking advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, one of many benefits that will enrich my life,” she said. “Having my tuition fees, textbooks and supplies paid for, and a monthly housing allowance will help me financially.”
Bellgreen has expressed intentions of making her service in the U.S. Army a career. “I am very proud of what I have done on behalf of the MING for my fellow Michiganders. I am looking forward to serving my country and communities for the next couple of decades as a proud American Soldier,” she said.