by Major T.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on May 26, 2020.
We, the world, are in our sixth month of dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At the time of this writing, every country save a select few have found positive COVID-19 patients within their borders. Over 340,00 have died, and more, unfortunately, will die until the virus subsides or a vaccine is discovered.
In the midst of the chaos, the military moves through the current pandemic relatively unscathed. The military responded rapidly to COVID-19’s spread, and swiftly canceled non-essential training and travel. At-risk populations went into self-quarantine. In my own unit, a Brigade of over 1000 people, three soldiers, and a family tested positive. The low rate of infection across the military is extraordinary.
Even more extraordinary was the military’s ability to shift focus and respond through service. Units began making face masks. Hospital units and ships were deployed inside of the U.S. to assist larger cities in the event of massive scale infection.
If you don’t know it already, you do now: the military is the best place to be during a crisis. We, funded by the government and the U.S. taxpayers, are robust enough to handle everything from wars to natural disasters to pandemics. We can deploy anywhere in the world in 18 hours. We shift our internal production assets swiftly, bolstering local capability while sharing our techniques globally across the force. And we don’t fire, lay off, or furlough our Soldiers. In fact, the military quickly made a concession, allowing service members to defer their ETS or retirement date for up to a year.
Think about that for just a moment; take a long, clear look at your present situation if you’re in the service. Our employer not only continued to pay us but gave us an option to defer leaving so we don’t enter a job market in the midst of a recession. Our employer kept us employed and allowed a lot of us to telework, with no reduction in pay or benefits. We all know friends, peers, and colleagues struggling through job loss, social isolation, financial anxiety, and many other COVID-19 related consequences. We, military service members and the community at large have a lot to be grateful for.
Use this time of chaos to be of service and bring calm to your local community, whether that is your unit or your neighborhood. Be grateful for the robust and resilient structure of the military, and be creative on how you can be of service to others who are struggling. Take the opportunity to make your own life more robust to handle unforeseen crises. Be thankful for and recognize the reality of the situation.
You, we, us, are in the category of the fortunate. We have an opportunity to expand that fortune to others through our example.
Major T. is a Special Forces officer on active duty. His views do not represent the views of the Department of Defense.