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NEWS | Aug. 27, 2020

Arizona Army Reserve nurse part of federal COVID-19 response

By Col. Meritt Phillips and Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Scott Army Reserve Medical Command

In her civilian career, Jennifer Blocker is employed as a nurse who enjoys spending her free time with her mustang mare, Zipporah. In her military career, she is one of more than 200,000 Citizen-Soldiers serving in America’s Army Reserve.

Currently assigned to CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Shoreline in Corpus Christi, Texas, Maj. Jennifer Blocker is one of more than 250 Army Reserve medical Soldiers currently mobilized in support of an Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force as part of the Department of Defense support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to COVID-19 in South Texas.

Specifically created to respond in this time of crisis, the UAMTF is designed to augment the civilian medical community by delivering a wide range of critical medical capabilities.

A member of UAMTF-7454, her team arrived in Texas late July.

“When we were in-processing at the Corpus Christi Spohn Shoreline Hospital, the CEO told us how much it boosted the hospital staff’s morale to know ‘The cavalry is coming’,” shared Blocker. “We were welcomed by both the Shoreline staff and FEMA nurses right away.”

There are a total of six UAMTFs currently serving hospitals in Texas, each 85-person team consisting of doctors, nurses, combat medics, respiratory therapists, and ancillary personnel that expand the capacity of care that civilian medial facilities can offer their community.

In total, U.S. Northern Command has assigned approximately 590 military medical and support personnel from the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Texas.

On her first day, Blocker was able to assist in providing a patient with life-saving treatment.

“It has been an honor to help this patient population, and a gift to see how much the plasma treatments I’ve administered improve a patient’s well-being right before your eyes,” she shared.

A native of Chicago, Blocker earned her nursing degree from DePaul University. Her decision to serve in the Army was based on multiple factors.

“To serve my nation, to take pride in Army medicine, and for the opportunities,” stated Blocker, on why she commissioned in the Army Nurse Corps in 2006.

After completing 12 years of service, Blocker left active duty in late 2018 but continued to serve in the Army Reserve.

“The Army values are true. I really wanted to continue to work in Army Medicine,” she stated.

Blocker relocated to Arizona to care for her parents and reconnect with family.

Employed by Banner Health at Del Webb medical center in Sun City West, Blocker lives with her father in Glendale, but also spends time in Surprise with her mother.

“It is bittersweet to leave my parents, but I'm proud to be able to help in this COVID-19 battle,” shared Blocker. “I support this mission completely. Every Army mission has, at its core, the American public.”

Blocker’s family had understandable reactions upon learning about her mobilization.

“My sister is proud and worried, as are my mother and father,” she explained. “Both of my parents believe we are about to make history, and that the world will never be the same.”

A friend stepped forward to support Blocker in her absence.

“The stable owner agreed to not only help my horse, but also both of my parents and their pets, as well as my two cats,” exclaimed Blocker. “My dad said, ‘She is doing her patriotic duty to help.’ I agree, she stepped up quickly.”

Blocker shared a message to her fellow military and civilian medical colleagues serving across the nation,

“Stay safe, and stay resilient. We are in this together and we've got each other's backs,” she said. “Army medicine will give it everything we have and keep giving.”