GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — Since their first deployment in March of 2020, facilitating Covid-19 testing clinics across the state, Wisconsin National Guard members like Major Joe Trovato continue to wear many hats.
"We really pride ourselves as an organization on being flexible and adaptable to any mission that the state tasks of us," the Guard public affairs officer said.
The pandemic has tasked the Guard with its longest and largest sustained domestic mobilization in the organization's history.
Since their first deployment in March of 2020, facilitating Covid-19 testing clinics across the state, Wisconsin National Guard members continue to wear many hats.— Ben Bokun (@ben_bokun) January 15, 2022
Full story: https://t.co/Q31GDhjbbe pic.twitter.com/egy9p5eyzq
"Never have we had so many troops mobilized for so long right here in the State of Wisconsin," Trovato said.
To this day, Trovato says 500 to 600 volunteer troops are deployed statewide to help with coronavirus relief.
In 2021, the Wisconsin National Guard administered over 230,000 vaccines and collected 1.2 million tests. Some were once stationed right in Northeast Wisconsin.
"[Troops worked to] establish a long-term Covid testing site at the Resch Center in Green Bay… a drive-thru testing site," Trovato said.
And in the fall, Guard members started working as nursing assistants at state healthcare facilities. Just this week, Governor Tony Evers announced 50 were deployed to train as CNAs. Ten are coming to Green Bay's Bellin Hospital.
"We're estimating the first round of staffing relief will allow skilled-nursing facilities to open up 200 or more beds by the end of February," Evers said during a Thursday DHS media briefing.
Last year, nearly 500 troops mobilized to Kenosha amid civil unrest. The same number left Wisconsin for Washington D.C. to watch over the presidential inauguration.
And Trovato says hundreds are still deployed overseas.
"We just got 300 airmen back from the Middle East today," he said.
From working on the streets during the Milwaukee Bucks championship run to supporting West Coast wildfires, the Wisconsin National Guard has played unprecedented roles over the last two years.
"They've just answered the call and continue to perform so well for the State of Wisconsin," Trovato said.