FORT HOOD, Texas — More than 50 members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 135th Medical Company returned safely to Fort Hood at the end of January from a deployment to multiple locations in the Middle East where they provided medical support to U.S. Service Members and other coalition forces.
The unit enabled Role 2 medical care to patients or casualties by providing treatment necessary to sustain the fighting force. The unit was dispersed across over eight locations at a given time, including Iraq and Kuwait, requiring adaptability from unit members.
Staff Sgt. Joshua Thomas, a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist (CBRN), explained that it was one of the rare instances in the military where embracing his own individuality was helpful throughout the mission.
“Being willing to make friends and new connections was key,” stated Thomas.
According to Maj. Steven Schoeny, the company’s commander, his Soldiers’ ability to be adaptable in unfamiliar environments can be traced back to the unprecedented year of state-side missions that preceded the deployment
“The tremendous sacrifices made over the last year by both the Soldiers and families helped build a stronger, more experienced team,” stated Schoeney.
Many of the deploying Soldiers were instrumental in the early days of Wisconsin’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic – where they set up COVID-19 isolation facilities, assisted nursing home staff, and laid the groundwork for the Wisconsin National Guard to conduct over 1.2 million COVID-19 tests.
Senior Wisconsin Army National Guard leaders were waiting plane-side to greet the troops as they arrived at Fort Hood last week.
Brig. Gen. Joane Mathews, Wisconsin’s Deputy Adjutant General, emphasized that the accomplishments over the last two years were built on not just the sacrifices of their Soldiers but also their families.
“Without the people who picked up the pieces in your absence, you would not have been able to do the outstanding job you did,” stated Mathews.
For many members and their families, this is more like a two year deployment stated Schoeney.
“The state should be proud of the excellence, resiliency and mission-readiness of these Soldiers,” stated Schoeney.
The unit originally mobilized for its overseas deployment in March 2021. The unit will spend time at Fort Hood completing demobilization requirements before returning to Wisconsin in the coming days.