NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Servicemembers have stepped up to help at FEMA vaccination around the country and here in Hampton Roads.
The FEMA-run vaccination clinic at Military Circle is just one of 17 sites the Department of Defense’s Joint Task Force Civil Support helped set up and continues to work with.
“Our mission here, across all these servicemembers, are to give shots,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Van, who is the commander of Joint Task Force Civil Support.
JTF-CS is based out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis. Van says they’ve helped set up the sites in 12 separate states and put more than 1.4 million shots in arms.
Members of all the armed services and the U.S. Coast Guard work together under this command.
“This is where we need to unite in one common goal, not just for ourselves, but our neighbors and communities,” Van said. “Americans can get anything done. We need to beat the pandemic and get the shot.”
Van says they’re tasked with providing stability and security around the world so it’s been an honor for them to provide that same support at home.
“Being able to see the actual people and the people we defend is very rewarding. I hope we never have a pandemic again and execute this mission set again but the fact we can serve our country, here in our homeland, is very rewarding,” he said.
Van says local servicemembers are helping out at FEMA-run sites as small as clinics vaccinating around 250 people a day in New Jersey to sites in Boston vaccinating up to 6,000 a day.
Prior to helping with vaccination sites, JTS-CF was tasked with helping hospitals in New York and New Jersey that were dealing with overcapacity.
“We were at one of the darkest points of the U.S. at that point in time, where hospitals were being overwhelmed,” he said. “Here, we’re giving vaccines and are seeing joy on people’s faces.”
Van says the way out of the pandemic is through herd immunity and getting as many people vaccinated as possible.
“Not only help yourself, help your family, help your neighbors. Get your shot,” he said.
Van says although they’re working under FEMA, they are at each state’s discretion for the amount of time they’re needed at sites.
Servicemembers will be helping out at the clinic at Military Circle for eight weeks, but Van says if they are needed, they will stay as long as needed.