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News | May 26, 2021

Medical Soldiers provide frontline COVID defense for Europe

By Kirk Frady

For the past several weeks Soldiers from Regional Health Command Europe, Army Medical Activity Bavaria, Public Health Command Europe, Dental Health Command Europe and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center have been ensuring the safety and well-being of U.S. forces by conducting and processing COVID tests on newly arrived service members into the European theater.

“We temporarily took over the Task Force Willkommen mission from 30th Medical Brigade while they participate in the DEFENDER Europe 2021 training exercise until June 21,” said Maj. Samuel Teague, deputy of quality management for Regional Health Command Europe. “Determining our Soldiers’ COVID status as soon as they enter Germany protects the soldiers, their families and our community. It lets our host nation and allied partners know that we are taking every precaution to prevent exposing them and their families to the virus.”

The Task Force Willkommen mission is currently being executed from Ramstein Air Base. The medical task force receives and processes all newly arrived Army personnel at the Ramstein Air Base passenger terminal where they are initially tested for COVID-19. Soldiers receive their second, and subsequent, COVID-19 test upon arrival at their final duty station.

“Swabbing Soldiers as soon as they arrive in Germany starts the clock on their ROM requirements. We want Soldiers to get to their units and ready to work as soon as possible,” added Teague.

“For a lot of the new arrivals this is their first assignment, and or, their first time in Europe,” said Master Sgt. Steven Jensen, operations NCO for Task Force Wilkommen. “In addition to conducting COVID testing, we also conduct sick call, as needed, for the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Deployment Processing Center.

The Soldiers currently executing TF Willkommen had only one week to train-up with 30th Medical Brigade before assuming the multifaceted mission.

“I was immediately impressed with how quickly everyone on the task force learned their role,” Teague added. “They really took the mission to heart. In addition to their stellar work ethic and competence, everyone on this task force has proven to be extremely kind and patient. They completely understand how disoriented and jetlagged people can be from an international flight and ensure everyone’s first interaction in Europe is a positive one.”

Task Force Willkommen leaders indicated that Soldiers assigned to the team have clearly shown a willingness to go above and beyond the scope of their operation to help anyone in need.

“For example, when a flight arrived unexpectedly our team responded within an hour to provide testing for those passengers,” Teague added. “The unannounced flight happened on, what was supposed to be, a day-off for the team. But within an hour of the call going out, everyone on the team was at the passenger terminal and ready to work.”

According to medical officials, the Task Force Willkommen mission consists of swabbing active duty Soldiers upon arrival at the Ramstein Passenger Terminal and conducting sick call, as needed, for those who are in restriction of movement status.

Since assuming the mission from the 30th Medical Brigade just a few weeks ago, Task Force Willkommen has processed more than 600 COVID samples from inbound personnel.

"Caring for the health and welfare of our service members and their families is our number one mission," said Jensen. "It’s truly an honor and privilege to care for the incoming military personnel while protecting the force and the people of our host nation."
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