KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. – Fifty-five Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing were activated this week, to assist with non-clinical, operations support to hospitals in Southern Oregon including hospitals in Medford, Grants Pass, Ashland, and Klamath Falls. Additional Airmen are slated to be activated later this month.
“Hospitals throughout Oregon are experiencing shortages in support staff, and our Airmen will be serving in key support roles,” said Col. Jeff Edwards, 173rd FW commander. “As our state and nation experiences a surge in COVID cases, our Airmen will maximize the ability for hospitals to care for patients.”
With the surge of COVID-19 cases, Oregon Governor Kate Brown has ordered an increase of National Guard Service Members for the second hospital relief mission, with up to 1,200 Oregon Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen mobilized. This new activation of the Oregon National Guard is an increased from 500 to over 1,200 service members in 40 hospitals across the state.
National Guard members will provide much-needed support for understaffed hospitals during this deployment and will work in non-clinical roles including patient transport, logistics, food services, as well as equipment inventory and sanitization.
“Thank you to all our Airmen who are serving in this mission; I am grateful for their service and sacrifice,” said Edwards. “Deployments are challenging not only for our Airmen, but also for their families and employers; we are grateful of the support that they give to our Airmen and to the National Guard.”
This activation follows a prior deployment of over 1,500 Oregon National Guardsmen that provided the same non-clinical support rolls in Oregon hospitals beginning in August of 2021, and ending in December 2021.
“This past fall, our Airmen answered the call to serve in the hospitals and did a fantastic job,” added Edwards. “Support areas that were critically short on staffing were reinvigorated by our Airmen’s can-do spirit and helping hands. Their teamwork and professionalism are incredible.”
The Oregon National Guard comprises over 8,000 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen who are dedicated to serving their fellow Oregonians and who also serve the nation in times of war. The organization has the motto “Always Ready, Always There” and is the largest part-time employer in the state. Its members, on average, serve one weekend a month with an additional two-week period a year while maintaining civilian employment.