Breakfast Recap: How The SC National Guard Battles COVID-19

July 13, 2020 | Posted By: Connor Watkins

 

Major General Van McCarty with the South Carolina National Guard enjoys the robust life of Lexington. Growing up in Irmo and then raising his family on the west side of the dam he is a family man who cares about our community. Major General McCarty speaks to us with 30 years of enjoyment in serving this country, state and community.

With guard facilities in 41 counties across the state, response is diverse in makeup and missions. The guard has the unique opportunity with the capacity to serve on dual missions, both state and federal. Whether it be obeying orders of the state to aid Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) or federal with deployments for the war-fight the National Guard has the flexibility to serve where active duty soldiers cannot.

Today, the Major General also spoke about the interesting times in the world. While there are 25,000 soldiers deployed in support of the war-fight, SC demobilized 500 in COVID-19 efforts across the state to provide basic medical support to hospitals, including Prisma Health, and four department of corrections where virus breakouts had taken place. A huge adjustment was made in working with DHEC, LLC and the governor on easing regulations to provide guard medical personnel, designed to be combat lifesavers, with military certifications to give healthcare to the public.

Now with over 58,000 cases of the virus in the Palmetto State and social distancing regulations, communities are suffering even more economic loss. SC National Guard is responding with following pandemic planning already in place as well as allowing for flexibility to serve where needed. The guard is working to provide testing in rural areas, supporting food banks and sanitizing facilities so that people can get back to work.

As the academic year came to an end, some schools came to a halt with the need for Wi-Fi in rural communities to provide a virtual option. Not only did the SC National Guard deploy 50 soldiers to drive buses providing meals to families in need of the support, but they also provide buses with Wi-Fi.  "How we get through this tells who we are,” said MG McCarty.

The challenge is finding a holistic approach to reopen childcare facilities and get people back to work and ultimately bring us all back together again. There's also the challenge of bringing soldiers home during the strict travel regulations and encouraging those who have lost family members to COVID-19 while they were deployed. And during this time, it's also a challenge to see people in a different light recognizing our public service persons and soldiers are common citizens like you and me.

A recent unique challenge for the guard was to support missions where active duty were not able by deploying 500 soldiers statewide and 450 to the District of Columbia to protect citizens during the civil protest and ensuring people could safely and peacefully protest. MG McCarty was especially proud of the young adults who answered the call of their nation while professionally and personally struggling with their own thoughts on the civil injustices.

Through all the challenges soldiers face, and day to day life, providing mental and social stability are key components the SC National Guard has built in to ensure well-being. The service members family care plan offers support including a holistic diet and exercise program and jobs placement program. Major General Van McCarty recognizes rather than relying on senior leaders we have to rely on the people who work close at hand to recognize unique challenges and come up with solutions. He is thankful for the communities in how we are working together to come out on top. The guard has seen success, and they are poised to handle next round of challenges with the COVID fight.

Join the Lexington Chamber for it's next breakfast on Tuesday, August 11. Time and location are to be determined. 

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