HARLINGEN, Texas –
A family medicine physician from Irving, New York, Maj. Vivien Redeye is preparing to return home as she completes her mission as a member of an Army Reserve Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force.
She is one of more than 1,000 skilled Army Reserve medical Soldiers that have mobilized since March to provide Department of Defense support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s whole-of-America response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Redeye serves with Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force – 7458, a team of 85 doctors, nurses, combat medics, respiratory therapists, and ancillary personnel that expand the capacity of care that civilian medial facilities can offer their community.
Assigned to Harlingen Medical Center in Harlingen, Texas, Redeye provided care for COVID-19 patients.
“Our mission was to assist the hospital by supplying physical support. The hospital was overwhelmed, both staff and space were in short supply,” shared Redeye.
Employed by Family Health Medical Service as a hospitalist at Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk, New York in her civilian career, she had experience in treating COVID-19 prior to the mission.
“Having experience working in a COVID environment prior to this deployment helped greatly as a clinician,” shared Redeye. “It also helped reduce the fear for others (on the team) new to the COVID environment.”
Redeye explained that Army Reserve Soldiers are well suited for this response effort.
“We understand the infrastructure in community hospitals as well as how to navigate the military side.”
In total, U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, 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.
A graduate of the State University of New York, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Buffalo, Redeye is from the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation in Irving, New York.
“I am proud to be from the Seneca Nation of Indians. While Native Americans have the smallest percentage of the population, we have one of the highest representation percentage per capita in the military.”
A self-proclaimed “Army brat,” Redeye’s mother is a retired Army nurse.
“I remember thinking at the age of 10, while driving around Fort Lewis, that I never wanted to be a civilian,” said Redeye. She joined the Reserve when her youngest daughter reached the age of four.
“The Reserve works better for my family and allows me to be flexible with my employment choices,” shared Redeye, originally a member of the 7207th Medical Support Unit in Webster, New York.
“My military contract will be complete next year but I plan to stay for a while longer. There is more that I would like to do in the Army and goals I would like to achieve,” said Redeye. “Plus having to be accountable with physical fitness keeps me active.”
A mother of two, Redeye stays in touch with her family regularly during her mobilization.
“My children are very proud of my service, as are my parents and extended family, but they miss me when I deploy,” she commented.
As she prepares to return to her family and civilian employment, Redeye offered her thoughts on the historic mission she supported.
“These are difficult and unprecedented times, but it has made the medical community band together, and I know we will look out for each other better than before.”