NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – On a cold January day, a team of four Connecticut National Guard Soldiers make their way down a line of vehicles, helping local residents register for COVID-19 tests.
New Britain Stadium, home of a collegiate summer league baseball team and former minor league home to baseball stars like David Ortiz and Joe Mauer, has seen its parking lot converted into a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in response to the increase in cases associated with the omicron variant.
Among the soldiers supporting the civilian-led site is Pfc. Stefanie Charpentier, a combat medic assigned to the 141st Medical Company.
“I joined the Guard because I always wanted to be in the military, and with the Guard, I could serve close to home while going to college,” said Charpentier.
In addition to supporting the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Charpentier studies biochemistry at Central Connecticut State University — also located in New Britain.
“I wanted to be a medic in the Guard and be involved in the medical field on the civilian side as well,” said Charpentier. “I volunteered for this mission so I could help provide access to medical services that are so critical right now.”
Charpentier was also activated in 2021 to help administer the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the Guard’s efforts at vaccination sites across the state.
As Connecticut grapples with the omicron variant, so far approximately 250 Guardsmen have volunteered to assist 24 testing sites and dispense test kits and masks at five regional points of distribution throughout the state. In addition, Connecticut Guardsmen support logistics operations at the state’s commodities warehouse in New Britain — the hub for testing supplies and PPE distributed statewide.
“We train to be ready at a moment’s notice, and throughout this response, we’ve used our skills to help the people of Connecticut,” said Charpentier. “It means a lot that I’m able to help people in my state, including right here in New Britain, during this time of need.”
Charpentier said she hopes the Guard’s efforts will help the state get tests for everybody who needs one, and that she is appreciative of the support shown by residents at these testing sites.
“The Guard is ready to help, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to support our neighbors here in Connecticut,” said Charpentier.