Unedited press release from Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – In the morning hours on Saturday, the Alabama National Guard deployed a specialized unit, Task Force 31, to the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected long-term skilled care facilities, statewide. Members of the task force, equipped with protective equipment, methodically moved through veterans home conducting the operation with close coordination with the home’s staff.
On April 15, Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) Commissioner Kent Davis and Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Sheryl Gordon, coordinated the mission that called for the task force to assist the state’s four veterans homes in mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“This joint operation is a historical moment that demonstrates how state agencies can effectively work together to combat this invisible enemy,” said Davis. “The Alabama National Guard brings to the table well trained and equipped personnel with essential skills that will have a long-term positive outcome for our state veterans homes.”
Members of the task force team received an operational briefing and were donned with personal protective equipment (PPE) before entering the home. After residents were moved to isolated protective areas in the home, the task force team began the operation that covered residents’ rooms, hallways, common areas, and administrative offices.
The task force is organized with specialized teams that are equipped and trained to disinfect long-term skilled care facilities in the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The teams were selected based on their unique military training and skills.
“There were many heroes present today as this operation was carried out at the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home. Those heroes are the veterans who are entrusted in the home’s care, the staff who report to work daily to care for their needs, and the men and women of the Alabama National Guard who professionally conducted this operation,” added Davis.
The task force will deploy to the other three state veterans homes in Bay Minette, Huntsville and Pell City, for follow-on support.
Information about ADVA’s veterans homes visitation policy and other precautionary measures the department is taking in its response to the COVID-19 crisis is posted to the department’s website at www.va.alabama.gov.