By Edwin Wriston
| West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs | Dec. 31, 2020
The West Virginia National Guard had numerous significant accomplishments in 2020 that included homeland and disaster response missions, deployments around the globe, and sustained activation to help West Virginia combat the deadly SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic.
“2020 has been a year like no other,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, the Adjutant General of the WVNG. “Yet the men and women of the West Virginia National Guard have answered the call to not only meet but to exceed expectations, and to overcome the daunting challenges faced. The more than 6,400 Soldiers, Airmen, and civilians of our Guard have dedicated themselves to demonstrating our unique capabilities and deep dedication to service on the local, state, national and international stage throughout the year. I couldn’t be prouder of the accomplishments of our team and know they will continue to remain an integral and vital force for good both at home and abroad.”
As the world faced the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Guard stepped up in a mighty way by mobilizing for a mission on the home front that they had never faced before. More than 700 Guardsmen and women served at some point in time in the State’s response to COVID-19 in what is now the longest running state active-duty mission in our history. Whether delivering personal protective equipment, (PPE) providing COVID-19 testing, delivering meals to West Virginians in need, innovating our own PPE, to taking the planning and logistical lead on vaccine distribution, the Guard remained engaged on all fronts of the pandemic response throughout 2020.
Throughout 2020, WVNG members continued to support border security efforts along our southwestern border, responded to flooding events in multiple communities here at home, continued support of 2016 flood recovery efforts, deployed personnel to fight raging wildfires in western states, stood up teams for potential deployment to support hurricane relief efforts and deployed and welcomed home more than 900 service members from missions around the world.
The Guard also continued to provide economic development opportunities to the Mountain State through additional expansion of the Patriot Guardens program, the Muddlety Apple Project, and the former Hobet mine property; we provided enhanced educational opportunities through multiple public safety and first responder course offerings, continued participation and facilitation of the Governor’s Jobs and Hope program, officially opened a second Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy South in Montgomery, continued support and expansion of the high school-based Future Leaders Program; and provided public outreach efforts for events and programs across the state.
Significant WVNG accomplishments in 2020 include:
COVID-19 response efforts played the largest role in WVNG activities during 2020 and will continue to be a pivotal driver in 2021.
Upon activation by Governor Jim Justice in early March, the WVNG established six lines of effort to respond to the pandemic: operationalizing of the event, stabilizing the population, providing logistical movement of critical supplies, innovation, state surge capacity and capability, and conducting data analysis to combat the virus.
Various task forces and action teams were established to focus on specific COVID-19-related missions including the state’s ability to conduct voluntary COVID-19 mapping; epidemiology support; information hotline manpower support; unemployment claim manpower to WorkForce WV; COVID-19 testing; PPE training, production, and distribution; logistical movement of critical supplies; sanitization of critical infrastructure, healthcare facilities and governmental facilities; data and analysis of the information environment; telecommunications access including rural remote telehealth and Kids Connect Wi-Fi instillations across the state; and vaccine distribution.
Some of these accomplishments include: