By MAJ. GEN. CHRIS CALLAHAN Since COVID-19 took hold in the United States in March 2020, the term "unprecedented" has been used countless times to describe never-before-seen events and challenges. To add to the applications of the term, we apply a
Since COVID-19 took hold in the United States in March 2020, the term “unprecedented” has been used countless times to describe never-before-seen events and challenges. To add to the applications of the term, we apply a number: 595. This is the number of continuous days your Rhode Island National Guard (RING) was activated to support the State’s pandemic response.
The COVID-19 pandemic response has been the largest, most sustained, and complex domestic activation in the 383-year history of the Rhode Island National Guard. The response involved the activation and dedicated service of over 1,000 individual Service Members from our Army and Air National Guard.
I could not be more proud of our Service Members who worked tirelessly in every area of Rhode Island’s response which included the teamwork and dedicated support of the entire state. We thank the incredibly skilled and dedicated healthcare professionals who, from day one, have been on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Their selfless service has been nothing short of heroic. It’s been an honor serving our communities and working in support of the RI Department of Health, Emergency Management Agency, Department of Education, and all of our state agency partners.
The RING’s 595 continuous days of activation required the support of another group we want to thank: our employers. The pandemic response was 595 days our activated Service Members had to step away from their places of employment. Each one of those missed days required our employers to cover shifts and colleagues to take on added workloads in their absence. That is no small feat particularly given the direct impact the pandemic had on the business and education sectors. We estimate our employers cumulatively lost approximately 1.72 million work hours or almost 215,000 work days during the activation of hundreds of members of the Rhode Island National Guard. That is a tremendous amount of support from the employers and industries across Rhode Island.
Most of our Service Members serve part-time in the Rhode Island National Guard and are employed primarily throughout Rhode Island and the other New England states. They are educators and doctors, EMTs and mechanics. They are financial analysts, retail managers, customer service representatives, and electrical engineers. Members of the RING come from every community; their careers and professions are as diverse as Rhode Island itself.
Only through the sacrifice of our employers has the Rhode Island National Guard been able to assist the State response to COVID-19. This is an unprecedented demonstration of support to your employees and our Service Members during a domestic activation. On behalf of the Rhode Island National Guard, thank you. We could not have done it without you.
Maj. Gen. Chris Callahan is the Commander of the Rhode Island National Guard, a member of Governor Dan McKee’s Cabinet and is the primary military advisor in the employment of the National Guard during peacetime and emergency domestic activities. He analyzes requirements to ensure high levels of personnel, training, and equipment readiness within the RING. He mobilizes staff and allocates resources to meet federal missions. He provides technical expertise in aviation, logistics, budgeting, public affairs, and operations. MG Callahan is responsible for 3,100 military personnel, over 90 state employees, equipment and property totaling over $293M, and a combined budget in excess of $123 million.
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