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Virtual Meeting On Michigan National Guard Activation

    April 14, 2020

    The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency held its first (of what will likely be regular) virtual Townhall meeting to discuss the State’s response to COVID-19.  Good info was disseminated, and ample time was allocated for questions from participants.  Speakers included MVAA Director Zaneta Adams, MG Paul Rogers (The Adjutant General), REP Fred Upton and officials from Michigan Veterans’ Homes and the VA.  I took some notes:

     

    • MG Rogers reported that 300 MI National Guard personnel have been activated (as of noon Apr 2) to assist with logistics and healthcare matters.
    • ARNG is setting up a 1,000-bed care center for COVID-19 patients at TCF Center (formerly Cobo Hall) in Detroit; should be complete this Sunday (Apr 5).  It will be managed by Henry Ford Hospital but staffing will likely come from various sources.
    • Similar care centers are planned for Novi, Ann Arbor and Kent County (precise location TBD).  Similar facilities are being considered for Northern MI and the UP.
    • The VA will be moving some (non-COVID) patients from VAMC Detroit to VAMCs Saginaw and Battle Creek.
    • Some discussion about whether VA (nationally) will be authorized to accept non-veteran patients where feasible; undetermined yet.
    • Vets who worked in healthcare jobs while in the military may be able to assist; licensing/credentialing requirements likely to be modified to facilitate on-boarding.
    • Lots of discussion about “outreach” to vets, especially residents in the Grand Rapids and Marquette vets’ homes as well as others who may be isolated. 
      • Encourage people, especially kids, to send cards and letters.
      • VA plans to establish “Facebook Live” activities for this and related purposes.
      • MVAA will implement a “Make a Veteran Smile” campaign on its Facebook page.
    • I asked a question about how the VCATs (Veterans Community Action Teams) can help.  Director Adams said, “be proactive in reaching out to veterans in your area.”  More to follow, hopefully.
    • The website www.michigan.gov/fightcovid19 is the State’s portal for volunteers and organizations to help.  I went to the site and there are 10 different volunteer categories, including not only healthcare and “donations” but also “Community Volunteer” (for organizations) and “Volunteer to Help Older Adults” (for individuals).

    I recommend MI-ESGR disseminate this info to all volunteers and ask them, in turn, to disseminate to their networks of organizations and individuals.  I have already forwarded this info to West MI organizations with which I am connected.

    Paul J. Ryan

    Captain, US Navy Reserve (Retired)

    State Chair Emeritus, Michigan Committee for
    Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve
    616-669-7013 (h)       616-340-6183 (mobile)
    paul.j.ryan@iservonline.net