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NEWS | May 7, 2020

Citizen-Soldier living motto 'One Team, One Fight' in battle against COVID-19

By Lt. Col. Meritt Phillips Army Reserve Medical Command

“The military team here includes some of the greatest healthcare workers I have ever worked with,” stated Army Reserve Lt. Col. John Patrick O'Donnell. “I am very proud to be part of the team working at the Javits Center and Lincoln Hospital.”

A family medicine physician assistant from Live Oak, Florida, O’Donnell is one of more than 1,200 Army Reserve medical professionals that have been mobilized in Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces as part of the Department of Defense’s response to COVID-19, which is being led by U.S. Northern Command.

Specifically created to respond in this time of crisis, UAMTFs augment the civilian medical community by delivering a wide range of critical medical capabilities. Each 85-person UAMTF consists of doctors, nurses, combat medics, respiratory therapists, and ancillary personnel.

“We are known as Citizen-Soldiers since most of our days are dealing with the public,” said O’Donnell. “I think this is why the President has confidence in the Army Reserve and why we were called up.”

Originally assigned to the Javits Center, a temporary treatment facility in New York City, O’Donnell is now working at the Lincoln Hospital in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx, where he is part of a team testing both patients and hospital workers for the COVID-19 virus.

“The Army Reserve is made up of multiple specialties which, when called upon, can fight these unique battles,” said O’Donnell. “Our team has impacted the care of patients in the New York area and made significant improvement to their outcomes.”

A graduate of the University of Florida, O'Donnell, is traditionally employed as the lead physician assistant at a rural health clinic that serves medically under-served and indigent patients. He is a member of the Army Reserve Medical Command’s, South East Medical Area Readiness Group, 7459th Medical Backfill Battalion located at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

O’Donnell, who has served in the Army Reserve since 2004, explained why he joined the military.

"I am proud to be an Officer in the Army Reserve. I enjoy serving my country and bringing honor to my uniform,” shared O’Donnell. “There is a deep sense of pride knowing that not all citizens can wear the uniform, and for this, I continue to serve.”

Although O’Donnell is away from his family during these turbulent times, he has their backing. “My family is very supportive of the Army and proud to have their father/ husband serving. We have had many in our family serve, but never at this level,” he shared. “My children may eventually follow the footsteps of their father one day.”

In his 13 years of service, O’Donnell has mobilized several times. When asked his advice to other Soldiers that are being called upon to serve, he stated, “We are one big family, and serve on the same team. We all have sacrificed and are strained at this time, but will complete the mission with success. Our Battalion motto is ‘One Team-One Fight’, and I truly am understanding what that means.”