National Guard soldiers fight war on COVID in Potsdam

WWNY National Guard soldiers fight war on COVID in Potsdam

POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWNY) - The troops have landed in Potsdam. They’re fighting a different kind of war - one that hits close to home for everyone.

New York Army National Guard soldiers are pitching in at the state’s COVID-19 vaccination site at SUNY Potsdam.

“Everybody you see here is a volunteer. They wanted to be on the mission and they want to give back to either their local community or a community in New York in need,” said Captain Alex Hammond, New York Army National Guard.

Thirty National Guard troops rotate in and out all day. For some, their COVID-19 duty started in the spring in New York City during the pandemic’s deadliest phase there. You learn a lot.

“Life can change in a second. You just have to take one day at a time and just keep pushing and always put the mission first,” said Specialist Joseph Nolan, New York Army National Guard.

Nearly 500 people a day are coming to Maxcy Hall for shots. It comes as the pandemic has now taken a deadly turn here.

“People are scared. People want to get, get through this. They want to get over it. We’re here to help them with it,” said Nolan.

Despite the fears, there are plenty of smiles at Maxcy as people recognize Guard members they know or make new friends with others.

“I think it’s wonderful. I think it helps people to be more comfortable. I hope that it helps people to be more comfortable that they’re here,” said Kelley Rheaume, Winthrop resident.

The Guard’s efforts have gotten a shot in the arm from President Biden. He has ordered the federal government to cover 100 percent of the cost.

You have to register ahead of time to get vaccinated at Maxcy Hall. You can do that by visiting the state website or by calling 1-833-NYS-4-VAX.

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