After Their COVID-19 Mission is Complete, Quarantining National Guard Members Get a Boost from the USO

By Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Ramelb

Army 1st Lt. Rory Nichols and Maj. Harry Brown hold morale bags. | Photo credit DVIDS/Staff Sgt. Matthew Ramelb

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve across the country, some members of the California National Guard are heading back to their civilian lives after weeks of assisting in medical facilities in the southern part of the state.

However, before they can return home to their local communities, they, like all members of the National Guard, must complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine to ensure they are healthy and have not contracted the highly contagious disease.

While these quarantine measures are a necessary step in protecting the health of service members and the communities they are a part of, spending two weeks in isolation can be a boring and isolating experience.

Victor Briscoe, operations supervisor with Bob Hope USO, moves boxes filled with morale bags. | Photo credit DVIDS/Staff Sgt. Matthew Ramelb

So, to help make the quarantine experience a little brighter for members of the California National Guard in isolation, the Bob Hope USO team created special morale bags to help them pass the time. With the help of Army Maj. Harry Brown, the chaplain with the California Army National Guard’s 224th Sustainment Brigade, the USO team was able to safely deliver dozens of these bags, which were filled with snacks and activity books, to quarantining service members.

Brown mentioned that part of the mission of the USO is to support military members in any way that they can, and he wanted to make it a priority to deliver the morale bags, especially as medical teams are coming off of missions and heading into quarantine.

“This simple gesture is good for their morale,” Brown said. “These morale bags remind them that they’re appreciated, and we’re here to support them every step of the way.”

Photo credit DVIDS/Staff Sgt. Matthew Ramelb

Army Maj. Harry Brown and Kasey Brann, field program specialist with the Bob Hope USO, stand next to a cart of morale bags.

Army Capt. Larry Aguirre, a physician assistant with the 297th Area Support Medical Company, 340th Brigade Support Battalion in San Mateo, California received one of the bags.

“Getting tested and going through quarantine is for our safety, especially for our families back home, but the time can feel isolating,” Aguirre said.

“These bags are appreciated and we look forward to going through them.”

While some service members are heading home, there are still other California National Guard medical support teams that continue to support COVID-19 humanitarian missions throughout the state.

-This story originally appeared on DVIDShub.net and has been edited for USO.org.

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