“When people ask me ‘is this a good time to call the guard up?’ This is the exact right time because this pandemic has hit our nation,” Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry, Adjutant General of the Nevada National Guard said.
Berry says the National Guard trains for foreign and domestic missions. His top priority is readiness.
“I don’t think you’ll have any issue with any guardsmen from this state doing their job to the best of their ability because they truly care and this is why you wear the uniform,” Berry said. “To go out there and make a difference.”
Berry says the activation is a fluid situation. He is meeting with the governor on a daily basis to see if more or less should be activated. The main priority at this point is to help with logistics.
“The biggest task we will have is logistics, transportation, coordinating all the different equipment coming in and the support around that, PPE, testing,” Berry said. “And then how do we come up with a very good process to ensure it gets out to the right parts of Nevada at the right time.”
About 75 percent of the National Guard works in a part-time role. Those who are getting activated will move to a full-time role.
“They’re on a full-time with benefits, etc., and this will be their only responsibility is supporting the mission that we have identified,” Berry said.
People who work in critical fields will not be called up. Those include medical professionals, first responders and paramedics. That is because they could be more valuable in a civilian role.
“If they are doing that in their civilian job, we are not going to ask them to come and leave that because you will be taking away from a critical area,” Berry said.
About 20,000 members of the National Guard have been activated throughout the country. Berry wants to make it clear that they are not activating anyone for enforcement or martial law.
“This is not martial law and that’s a bad rumor that’s going around the country right now and we’re doing everything we can to dispel it,” Berry said.
Nevada’s soldiers and airmen live in our state and the goal of activation is to help their neighbors during an emergency.
“These are citizen soldiers who live right there in your community who have the ability to very quickly respond,” Berry said. “Citizens have been great. They’re listening to the governor’s directions on staying at home and restricting travel and going out in the community and there is no need to have this increased force based on the current situation in Nevada.”
Berry says it is important that everyone does their part to stay healthy. Members of the National Guard cannot help others adequately if they are not healthy.
“We’re saving lives,” Berry said. “We’re saving lives. The efforts, the commitment, dedication, how we show up, how we execute, how we work together is important.”
Berry says if they help in the medical field, it would be for things like delivering supplies or give them support for drive-thru testing locations if needed.