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NEWS | Jan. 31, 2022

Wisconsin Guard medical unit returns from Mideast deployment

By Staff Sgt. Alice Ripberger, Wisconsin National Guard

FORT HOOD, Texas - More than 50 members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 135th Medical Company returned to Fort Hood 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 to sustain the fighting force. Unit members were dispersed across over eight locations, including Iraq and Kuwait, requiring adaptability.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Thomas, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist (CBRN), said it was one of the rare instances in the military where embracing his individuality was helpful throughout the mission.

“Being willing to make friends and new connections was key,” Thomas said.

According to Maj. Steven Schoeny, the company’s commander, his Soldiers’ ability to adapt to unfamiliar environments can be traced back to the unprecedented year of state 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,” Schoeny said.

Many of the deploying Soldiers were instrumental in the early days of Wisconsin’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 greeted the troops as they deplaned at Fort Hood last week.

Brig. Gen. Joane Mathews, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general, emphasized the accomplishments the past 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,” she said.

For many members and their families, this is more like a two-year deployment, Schoeny said.

“The state should be proud of the excellence, resiliency and mission-readiness of these Soldiers,” he said.

The unit mobilized for its overseas deployment in March 2021. Members will complete demobilization requirements at Fort Hoot before returning to Wisconsin in the coming days.



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