Called to Serve: Worcester State’s National Guard Members Support the Global Pandemic

May 4, 2020
By: Maureen Stokes

They can be anyone: a colleague, relative, neighbor, or student.

Members of the National Guard train and live by its motto: Always There, Always Ready. For Worcester State University, that includes one employee and 10 students of the National Guard who were called into service to support Massachusetts’ efforts in the global pandemic.

Made up of civilians, the National Guard train one weekend each month and serve a minimum of twice a year to be ready should their service be needed. Unlike the federal government, which calls active duty soldiers in times of war or peace, guardsmen are called by their state to support natural disasters, civil disturbances, and a variety of other events, including helping during a pandemic.

“We currently have 10 National Guardsmen activated somewhere between 45 days with a potential of another 45 days depending on the pandemic,” says Alan Jackson, director of military affairs and veterans services. Jackson is the liaison between the guardsmen and the University, providing support leading up to, and during, activation.

For students like Chloe Deviney-Dimarzio ‘22, keeping a sense of normalcy helps. “I’m learning [new] skills and how to manage many different things at once,” says the environmental science major. “I’m also being very flexible with my schedule.”

Deviney-Dimarzio hopes to eventually work for the state involving one the area’s precious resource – water. For now, she’s content to use her major and water aspiration as her service occupation.

For computer science major Noelan Chabot ’23, an enlisted soldier (private first class), he plans to make a career of his enlistment, learning all that he can with aspirations to become a software designer.

According to Chabot, the activation was a surprise. “One night I was a normal college student struggling with online homework, and one phone call later I am on my way to my unit to help with the fight against COVID-19.” He says he is managing a new [normal] schedule and expanding his organizational skills in cooperation with his team members.

Worcester State students have served before. “During the first Gulf War, we saw dozens of reservist, guardsmen and active duty students called by the federal government to serve,” says Jackson. Reservist and active duty, which are federal deployments under the Department of Defense, are not part of the current state-pandemic call to serve.

Caption for photo: Chloe-Devinery-Dimarzio, left, works with another guardsman to unload face masks by hand for transport across the state.

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