WALDORF, Md. – The Honorable John E. Whitley, the acting Secretary of the Army, visited Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers supporting operations at a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site located at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, Maryland. Whitley, raised in Western Maryland, discussed COVID-19 operations with Maryland National Guard senior leaders and Charles County officials before touring the vaccination facilities.

“This is my first site visit to a vaccination facility in Maryland and I’m very impressed with the operations and the dedication displayed by the Soldiers and Airmen,” said Whitley. “This is a critically important mission for our nation and for Maryland. These service members are a great reflection of the Army value of selfless service as they support their communities in the fight against COVID-19. I want to thank Maj. Gen. Timothy Gowen and Dr. Dianna Abbey from the Maryland Department of Health for hosting this visit and for the great work they and their teams are doing in our fight against COVID.”

At Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s direction, the MDNG created mobile vaccination support teams to assist state and local health officials in administering vaccinations against the coronavirus in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan. Approximately, 375 MDNG Soldiers and Airmen have been activated to support the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a very efficient operation and is something that can be scaled up if need be,” said Dr. Dianna Abbey, health officer for the Charles County Department of Health. “The Guard being here really did make a difference. It helped quite a bit and that they integrated seamlessly with my staff, the Maryland Reserve Corps, and the nurses from the school health program.”

Since the start of their mission on January 6, these MVSTs have assisted with the vaccination of more than half a million Marylanders in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Cecil, Carroll, Charles, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s and Talbot Counties as well as Baltimore City. The teams come from both the Maryland Army and Air National Guard. They are composed of medical professionals and support personnel who are fully trained, equipped, and prepared for this vital effort.

While touring this Charles County vaccination site, Whitley spoke with Soldiers to gain a better understanding of operations of the MDNG’s COVID-19 vaccination mission and presented challenge coins and words of gratitude to these MDNG men and women for their professionalism and contributions to the fight against COVID-19.

“We’re seeing the significant impact our MDNG Soldiers and Airmen are making in our Maryland communities,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, adjutant general for Maryland. “It’s not just providing shots in arms, but, more importantly, the hope we bring to our neighbors in these difficult times.”