PIRMASENS, Germany –
In the midst of a global pandemic, there’s been an increase in demand for supplies at Army hospitals and U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers in Europe are helping to fill that demand.
Soldiers from Medical Support Unit-Europe, 7th Mission Support Command, based out of Kaiserslautern, Germany, are supporting the shipping and receiving functions in the warehouse at U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center, Europe in Pirmasens for 30 days (or more) to help push Class VIII medical supplies to where they need to go – the hospitals.
“A lot of what we’ve been doing is unpacking and receiving shipments that come in,” said 1st Lt. Ava Carter, a clinical social worker with MSU-E. “We receive them and put them on the shelf so that they can then turn around and go back out to fulfill outstanding orders.”
Carter and her team of six Soldiers took on the mission a week ago in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to help with the increase in demand for supplies and support the staff of mostly German local nationals who work in the warehouse.
“The demand has increased, for sure,” said Carter. “With people being out sick and being quarantined and being on curfew - us being here, we can step in to support where maybe (others) might not be able to.”
MSU-E troops, along with active duty Soldiers from the 8th Medical Logistics Company, 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 30th Medical Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, out of Baumholder, Germany, are supporting the mission in the warehouse.
“Even if they were fully staffed, this would still be a large enough volume that would warrant additional support,” said Carter. “The amount of materials and supply and inventory that’s coming to those docks every day – with a full staff, they’d still need someone to help.”
USAMMCE plans, synchronizes and provides medical logistics support to service members and their families in the U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility, as well as to the U.S. Department of State.
The USAMMCE warehouse receives and ships Class VIII medical supplies to hospitals throughout these areas and Carter says it’s always an important mission, but especially right now.
“For every day that a pallet sits on the dock and doesn’t get filled, that’s another day that a hospital goes without what it needs or diminishes its current supply,” she said. “So I think it’s really important because it could be anybody that needs those supplies - it could be me, it could be my family, it could be my friends. It could be anyone in those hospitals waiting on supplies.”
As Reserve Soldiers, Carter and her team normally work civilian jobs and only don their military uniforms for once-a-month battle training assemblies or two-week annual training. That has changed quickly for many Soldiers under the 7th MSC, the only U.S. Army Reserve Command stationed in Europe, who have come on orders to help with various missions designed to protect the force during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Right now, we’re here for 30 days but we’re all willing to support as long as needed,” said Carter. “We’re willing to do whatever it takes.”