More than 9,000 veterans are coming out of retirement to combat the spread of the coronavirus, answering a call put out by the U.S. Army earlier this week.
As ABC News reports, the Army pinged more than 800,000 retirees and asked them to consider returning to serve their country one more time in a volunteer capacity.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, during a briefing at the Pentagon, described the quick answer as “very, very positive.”
These new field hands will “fill the holes” in military medical treatment facilities across the nation as hospitals deal with the influx of coronavirus patients, Army Surgeon General Scott Dingle told a group of reporters per ABC News.
“What we’ll do is even though we get many volunteers, we then will walk through the process of certification, making sure that all certifications and credentials are straight,” Dingle said. “Then once we do that, we will plug them into all of our medical treatment facilities as required in support of the mission.”
“This extraordinary challenge requires equally extraordinary solutions, and our retired Army healthcare professionals have shown that they are capable of providing the highest level of care while operating under constantly changing conditions,” the Army added in a statement of its own. “This information request will no way interfere with any care they may be providing to their communities, is for future planning purposes only, and is completely voluntary.”
ABC News adds:
The 531st Hospital Center out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky and the 9th Hospital Center out of Fort Hood, Texas — roughly 650 personnel in total — will arrive in New Jersey on Friday. They will be located at the Javits Center in New York City, which is being converted into a temporary hospital for non-coronavirus patients in order to take the pressure off city hospitals — which are better equipped to treat infectious disease. The Javits Center is expected to be operational on Monday, McConville said.
The 627th Hospital Center from Fort Carson, Colorado will deploy to Seattle, where an advance team is coordinating with state and local authorities to determine where a temporary hospital could be established there. McConville said possible locations include CenturyLink Field — home of the Seattle Seahawks — and a state fairground.
Three more active-duty hospital units are on standby to possibly also deploy, Army officials said.
The redeployment effort was spurred by President Trump who issued an executive order allowing the Army to bring back the retired veterans who wish to come back and help.
The Washington Post reports Trump said the decision will “allow us to mobilize medical, disaster and emergency response personnel to help wage our battle against the virus by activating thousands of experienced service members, including retirees.”
The president said the service members will be “offered to support the nation in this extraordinary time of need.”
Trump said the willingness of these retirees wanting to come back and help “is really an incredible thing to see. It’s beautiful.”
The report adds:
An Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Emmanuel Ortiz-Cruz, said some 15,000 veterans have expressed interest in rejoining the service to help the military’s response to the pandemic. Some are retired, and others are former service members who fulfilled a contract with the military but did not earn a full retirement.
A U.S. military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, would not rule out that involuntary recalls also are possible.