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NEWS | April 22, 2020

Connecticut State Militia: the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic

By Timothy Koster

While the Connecticut National Guard is receiving a significant amount of attention for their hard work and dedication to helping local and state agencies combat the COVID-19 outbreak, there is another group of unsung heroes from the Connecticut Military Department who are going above and beyond during these difficult times: the State Organized Militia.

The Militia is a melting pot of Connecticut citizens who come from diverse backgrounds with a common goal in mind: to help their community. While their typical mission is ceremonial in nature, they are trained for specialized missions and remain prepared to be called to active duty in order to assist the state in a time of crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic.

And while many companies around the country are temporarily closing their doors to do their part in preventing the spread of this deadly virus, the Militia is actively recruiting personnel with specialized skills to help in the fight. Alecia Haythe, a registered nurse, is the latest person to join the ranks of the militia, signing her contract and reciting the oath of office on April 21, 2020.

“I was looking for a volunteer opportunity,” said Haythe. “I wanted something meaningful, to be able to actually help more with the pandemic that’s going on.”

Haythe will serve on a part-time status, working weekends alongside Soldiers and Airmen of the Connecticut National Guard and the Army Reserve’s Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force at Stamford Hospital providing direct patient care.

Since the very beginning of the pandemic, the militia has been hands-on in preparing the state’s stockpile of personal protective gear and deploying its mobile field hospitals to hospitals around the state.

According to Nathan Kyder, a member of the 2nd Company Governor’s Foot Guard, the last time his company was called up to assist the state in this capacity was in the late 1960s. “It’s been awhile since we’ve been utilized for this purpose but we’re glad to be here and we’re glad to help.”

Kyder, who works in security, and the rest of his company, along with the 1st Company Governor’s Foot Guard, and the 1st Company Governor’s Horse Guard, were responsible for traveling around the state to set up the mobile field hospitals in Sharon, Middletown, Hartford, and Danbury which are intended to be used as recovery centers for COVID-19 patients, should the need for extra bed space become available.

The Militia’s mission is a critical component of the state’s preparedness plan, but it includes more than just building bed space. As with any wide-broadcast event in today’s digital age, the spread of misinformation is a serious issue and the Connecticut National Guard, state government, and local agencies have been working to provide timely and accurate updates to the public; and the Militia has played a role, too.

On April 11, 2020, Olga Samusik, a professional videographer, commissioned into the militia as a 2nd Lieutenant to help provide quality video products, telling the story of the Connecticut Military Department around the state converting gymnasiums into recovery centers and distributing personal protective equipment. Her work has had an immediate effect as her videos have been picked up and amplified by national military social media pages as well as national media outlets.

As we near the end of April, the immediate future remains uncertain. However, one constant throughout this crisis remains: the Connecticut Military Department’s commitment to serving its community to the best of its ability. If you’re interested in learning more about the Connecticut State Militia, visit: https://portal.ct.gov/mil