Answering the Call: Thousands of Army Retirees Offer to Return to Fight COVID-19

Answering the Call: Thousands of Army Retirees Offer to Return to Fight COVID-19
Soldiers stand at the Jacob Javits Center on March 23. The building will serve as a field hospital. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images)

As the coronavirus pandemic prompts new measures to defend Americans against a new kind of enemy, the Army is calling former servicemembers back to duty. And they’ve answered in impressive numbers.


The March 25 message to nearly 800,000 retired soldiers from Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, Army deputy chief of staff for manpower (G-1), seeks those “who would be willing to assist with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic response effort should their skills and expertise be required.” 


“These extraordinary challenges require equally extraordinary solutions,” the message reads, “and that's why we're turning to you -- trusted professionals capable of operating under constantly changing conditions. When the Nation called -- you answered, and now, that call may come again.”


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As of March 30, more than 17,000 former servicemembers – including some from other services and some whose medical training came after leaving uniform – had reached out to Army Human Resources Command, according to Army Times.


In addition to the Army reaching out for more assistance (get a list of specific military occupational specialties being sought here), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is also making it easier for the VA to rehire retired health care workers to strengthen staff numbers during the pandemic; re-employed annuitants will receive retirement annuities as well as a federal employee paycheck. The Navy also is reaching out to prior-service sailors as part of its manpower efforts during the pandemic.


“I would encourage people to live by MOAA’s motto and ‘Never Stop Serving,’” said Col. Jeri Graham, USA (Ret), a MOAA board member and former chief nurse at Walter Reed Medical Center. “I think people really do sincerely want to help, in whatever way. So whatever works best for them, their schedule, and with their own health care status in mind.”


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Those who aren’t able to rejoin service, for whatever reason, have other ways to assist, Graham noted: Red Cross opportunities, connecting with other philanthropic organizations digitally, or even making cloth masks.


Though MOAA is unable to provide any medical counsel, you may access a listing of COVID-19 resources, including links updated to VA, DoD, TRICARE, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information, here

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Amber Monks
Amber Monks

Monks is MOAA's advertising and business manager. She started at MOAA in 2018 as a member service representative, with a focus on communications.