Charleston, W.Va. --
Normally, emergencies and disasters are fast to strike, and conclude fairly quickly. Normally, there is an easily visible threat to combat during disasters such as floodwaters and debris, destroyed buildings and homes, downed power lines and snowed-in access roads. Today however, West Virginia, the United States, and the entire planet are fighting an invisible disaster that threatens healthcare systems, economies, and the very way we as humans live our lives.
Yet even in this time of great uncertainty and unprecedented change, there remains hope.
COVID-19 has and will test societal limits and norms we have all come to expect. Daily routines... whether it be school, work, play and entertainment, or even worship... have been changed for weeks and months on end. Plans for weddings, proms, graduations, birthday parties, and any number of social events we often revolve our lives and calendars around have in many cases fallen victim to the need for social distancing and our concerted efforts to help slow the spread of this disease support our ultimate goal to save lives and protect the most vulnerable in our state.
All of us share mutual bonds that unite us across the divides of humanity. Each of us has encountered and endured challenges, some seemingly overwhelming, in our lifetimes. From losing a loved one, to a stark and frightening medical diagnosis, to a loss of job or income, each of us has faced dark times that left us searching for mission and purpose. Today, we as individuals and as West Virginians are sharing a common challenge.
We will make it through this together.
As Mountaineers, we have a long and proud heritage of taking care of each other during times of crisis and need. The COVID-19 response has been no different. Volunteers, government agencies, and our educational, business and non-profit communities have stepped up in countless ways to make sure hungry children are fed, elderly residents are safe, and that our first responders and medical professionals on the front lines of this pandemic are getting the things they need to remain safe as they serve. Across the state, the true heart of West Virginians is shining.
COVID-19 response will be with us for an unknown amount of time. Full recovery, both economic and societal, may take many, many years.
As we go through this unprecedented time, it is my hope that we can take time to step back, reevaluate, and begin to appreciate those things in our lives that truly give us purpose, and to enable ourselves as individuals and as a state to experience positive growth.
Take time each day during this crisis to reflect on those things in your life that bring happiness and joy. Look for ways to thank and appreciate others. Look for ways to adapt to new changes. Look to the needs of others, and for ways you can use your unique interests, skills, and talents to contribute and become a positive spark in your community. Look for ways to move yourself, your families, your friends, and your communities forward.
Being Adjutant General to the more than 6,400 Soldiers, Airmen and civilians that make up the West Virginia National Guard gives me the unique opportunity and capacity to, along with Governor Justice and our state leadership, direct the movements of our resources across all 55 counties to have incredible positive impacts during times of emergency and disaster. Over the past few weeks, our Guardsmen and women have been to every county delivering medical supplies, helping with food preparation and distribution, training medical staff, retail workers and others on proper personal protective equipment (PPE) use and wear, and a host of other response efforts including medical testing and epidemiological monitoring and operations. We are partnering with local, state, and federal partners and volunteer organizations to bring innovative and just-in-time resources to the battlefield against COVID-19 and are building sustained surge capabilities across the state for the duration of this crisis.
Under each and every West Virginia National Guard uniform is a fellow West Virginian always ready, always dedicated to serve our state and nation. I couldn’t be prouder. I want to promise each person that reads these words that the West Virginia National Guard is here now and will be here throughout the duration of this crisis to work with all our partners as force multipliers for the State of West Virginia.
We will make it through this together. While there are trying times ahead, full of uncertainty and fear, there remains hope, and reasons to be positive. In the coming weeks and months, may we concentrate on those things and all of us become and remain the positive catalysts that move us forward.
This is our time to show the nation and the world not just what a great place we are, but how innovation, creating and caring West Virginians are. As we say in the West Virginia National Guard, let’s show our Mountaineer Pride Worldwide!