CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, N.Y. – Within less than a year, Spc. Olivia Mannetti became a Soldier, helped New York State in the fight against COVID-19, and will now be deploying to the Middle East.
Mannetti, 22, and a Schenectady resident, is a combat medic in the New York Army National Guard’s 466th Medical Company, Area Support. The company is to mobilize and deploy at the end of July.
As a child, Mannetti was raised in a military household. Her father was a Marine and her mother’s side of the family was Navy. She decided she, too, wanted to serve.
“Ever since I was little and saw my dad in uniform, I knew I wanted to be in the military,” she said.
After graduating from college in Colorado, Mannetti joined the Army National Guard.
“I called my mom and told her I was moving home for two weeks and then going to basic training,” she said. “I drove back across the country with my stuff. A week later I met with my recruiter, and a week after that I enlisted.”
Mannetti graduated from advanced individual training in early November 2019 and only attended three drills with her unit before COVID-19 struck.
Even though she was new to the unit, Mannetti volunteered to serve as part of the New York National Guard’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“I jumped right on it,” Mannetti said. “It was awesome to immediately start doing my job as a combat medic.”
Along with other combat medics from the 466th, Mannetti operated in a clinic at Camp Smith Training Site, in-processing and caring for Guard members coming onto the mission.
Outside the military, Mannetti works as an emergency medical technician (EMT). She enjoys being a combat medic because she has acquired new skills in the medical field that most EMTs do not have exposure to on the civilian side.
Mannetti also works on ski patrol in the winter, providing emergency medical care to skiers.
“Her history of being part of the ski patrol here in New York and Colorado helps bring a different set of skills to our company,” said 466th 1st Sgt. Scott Kyle.
“She’s a fantastic Soldier. She’s motivated to progress at her specialty,“ Kyle added.
Mannetti said she discovered her interest in emergency medicine as a counselor at a camp for children with disabilities.
“I wanted to better understand their cases and disabilities,” she explained.
Her biggest motivator, Mannetti said, was the fact that her younger brother, Daniel, who attended the camp, wrestled with medical issues.
When Daniel was 11 years old, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. “He’s pretty much been in and out of the hospital for the last 10 years,” she said.
The day before graduating from AIT, she was informed he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “It was an overwhelming day, and I think I pushed it aside at that time and just told him ‘Hey, we got this,’” she said.
Because Daniel is immunocompromised, Mannetti has been unable to visit her brother during the pandemic. Instead, she said, she continued to stay focused and hoped that by doing her part in the fight against COVID, the two would be reunited soon.
She had to quickly switch gears, however, as the 466th began preparing to deploy.
Premobilization training is especially mentally and physically demanding for combat medics, Kyle said. They provide initial emergency medical treatment and resuscitative trauma care in combat environments.
“The training we’re conducting here is essential to our mission,” said Kyle.
The need to deal with social distancing restrictions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus required 466th leaders to revise their training plans and find new ways to accomplish their mission, Kyle explained.
This made the ordinary pre-deployment training event more demanding, but Mannetti and the other Soldiers did well anyway, he said.
With pre-mobilization training over, the Soldiers of the 466th have some time at home with their families before they deploy.
The timeline couldn’t have worked any better for Mannetti, as her brother just finished chemotherapy.
Mannetti said she is looking forward to putting her combat medic skills into action on deployment.
“I’m absolutely looking forward to this deployment. It’s what I signed up for,” she said.