COVID-19 & the Military Community: Keeping Informed

COVID19

Written by: Christopher Plein, Ph.D. West Virginia University & MFLN Military Caregiving concentration.

As I write this blog from my laptop computer on a makeshift desk set up in my living room, I take comfort knowing that I am part of a virtual learning network that spans across our nation and beyond. The Military Families Learning Network involves many different stakeholders who have a shared commitment to military family readiness and well-being.

Those in the military and those who work in Extension are familiar with the need to be adaptive and flexible in the face of change and uncertainty.  Such is the order of the day as we move from our immediate response to COVID-19 to longer term efforts to help our families, communities, and institutions adjust to new realities that may be with us for some time.  In that spirit, I want to share a few resources that help us understand the shifting landscape and give recognition to the military community’s mission to help our nation in this time of crisis.

DoD & COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the Department of Defense (DOD) to take measured responses to ensure family wellbeing while maintaining readiness.   One of the best places to stay up-to-date is the DOD’s Coronavirus website which provides links to family-related matters and services. These include links to Military OneSource’s Coronavirus Information Center which offers information and resources on many issues including mental health and wellbeing, personal finances, and current policies relating to pay, benefits and training.  This site also shares links to resources that are available from the individual service branches and other federal agencies and departments.

Elsewhere on the DOD’s Coronavirus site can be found briefings, articles, and updates on planning, response, and action efforts. This includes an article on recent statements made by Matthew P. Donovan, DOD Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.  The Under Secretary notes that retention and promotion policies may need to be made more flexible to ensure readiness.  Also useful is an overview of various initiatives that have been undertake to “combat” the pandemic.

How the DOD is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic is of interest to many.  The Brookings Institution has posted recent blogs that highlight moves by the service branches to limit the PCS (Permanent Change of Station) or transfer process in order to ensure preparedness.

Many in the military community have been on the front lines of response.  This includes National Guard units that have been deployed across the states, as well as the dispatch of U.S. Navy hospital ships to New York and Los Angeles. A recently posted DOD infographic highlights the military’s contributions to responding to the pandemic. The scope of effort is impressive, involving DOD efforts across the nation to provide engineering, medical, and public health support.

One of the most popular phrases to emerge from this pandemic is that “we are all in this together.”  And indeed we are in so many ways – including sharing resources and information.  Remember too, that the MFLN is also providing information including items that can be found on our own Coronavirus page.  Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.

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