National Guard Support During COVID-19

Returning from Kuwait in mid-March, members of the 38th Infantry Division out of Indianapolis, IN found themselves face-to-face with the hardships of the current COVID-19 crisis. The 7,000 mile journey being halted just 900 miles from home when a total of 480 soldiers would be forced to quarantine at Ft. Hood, Texas for two weeks.

With their return home delayed, no way for family or loved ones to visit, and no hope of receiving care packages and comforts from home, troop morale was low. Enter USO Indiana. Within a day of receiving word of the situation, USO Indiana had 300 care packages stocked with oatmeal packets, granola bars, cookies, beef jerky, and trail mix en route to Ft. Hood.

In addition to the quick dispatch of care packages, USO Indiana worked closely with the Command Sergeant Major of the 638th Support Battalion to ensure the troops were well fed and comfortable. But even this fairly routine task posed challenges in the current situation. While normally a simple online order to a local market could have provided soldiers with their needs, out-of-stock items and quantity limits — a limit of one case of bottled water does little for a group of 480 soldiers — forced the need for a new plan of action.

In the end, USO Indiana mailed a number of gift cards to Ft. Hood. With the assistance of the Battalion Commander and Command Sergeant Major, the quarantined troops were able to escape the realities of their situation for a bit…with an ice cream night for each of the groups.

“The soldiers are making the best of their situation,” said the Command Sergeant Major, “and the USO has surely helped with that! Thank you again!”

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