By Faye Gaston
On the annual Veterans Day of November 11, America's military armed forces are honored and thanked. This year the National Guard is especially thanked for being used in unusual ways. They have assisted in the battles against (1) the invisible enemy of COVID-19, (2) violent protesters, and (3) helped in elections at poll locations.
COVID-19 PANDEMIC-During the COVID-19 pandemic, in Kentucky, the National Guard turned the exhibit hall of the state fairgrounds into a field hospital and helped various food banks, and distributed boxes of food.
A team of more than 20 members of the Alabama National Guard sanitized the local nursing home in Union Springs (Southern Springs Healthcare & Rehab) to combat COVID-19. Three on that team had grown up in Union Springs.
On July 1, 2020, the National Guard assisted in administering COVID-19 tests at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Florida.
It was announced that the National Guard would be mobilized to administer the vaccine for COVID-19 when available.
VIOLENT PROTESTS-Wisconsin was in a state of emergency after two days of destruction by protesters in key cities like Madison, Milwaukee, and Kenosha. The National Guard was activated to support local police against the looting, arson, and destruction of businesses. Rubber bullets and tear-gas were used against a violent crowd of several hundred.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey activated up to 1,000 Alabama National Guard in response to riots in Birmingham.
On June 1, 2020, President Donald Trump complimented the National Guard's leadership that was mobilized to Minnesota because of violent protests.
ELECTION POLL LOCATIONS-For the first time, because of the highly contagious COVID-19, the National Guard was asked to assist in an election. Over 200 National Guardsmen in Kentucky came forward to volunteer their time in June 2020. They served at various locations.
They served out of uniform and performed various non-election officer duties, ranging from parking and crowd control to set-up and clean-up of the poll locations. They volunteered to serve as election officials in 44 counties. In Anderson City, they performed traffic control and sanitized voting stations. They also helped with elections in Nebraska and Wisconsin.