WITCHITA, Kan. –
During the COVID-19 pandemic most of the United States is teleworking and going virtual eight hours a day, the US Army is no different.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Friesen, an Army recruiter assigned to Army Recruiting Station Wichita West, Kansas, volunteered his services to virtually screen the members of his battalion for COVID-19 symptoms.
Originally a combat medic specialist (68W), Friesen made phone calls to over 300 members of the US Army Oklahoma City Recruiting Battalion, Oklahoma for screening purposes and to give advice on daily awareness.
“I’ve been calling people, I’m screening them, determining whether or not they need to be on self-quarantine, and just reviewing good hygiene practices,” Friesen said. “There are a lot of things people don’t realize makes them susceptible.”
As part of a bigger plan pushed down from the highest levels of the US Army to get in front of the virus, every battalion assigns a Soldier to represent their battalion whom has the experience and know-how to do so. Friesen, who has served in hospitals and on the front lines, heard about his recruiting battalion needing someone and was the first to volunteer.
“I’m in charge of tracking and education essentially. As far as support for individuals who are on self-quarantine, I let them know that their command team is there for them, but if they can’t get a hold of them to call me and I can walk them through whatever they might be going through,” Friesen said. “If they find out they are on self-quarantine, but they have an empty pantry then we need to find someone who can make a grocery run for them if they don’t have anyone. I’ve contacted 98.7 percent of the battalion and done follow up calls with those individuals as well, just to make sure that everything is still okay with them.”
Friesen dreamed of serving in the US Army, but was torn for years over whether or not it was the best thing for him. He now believes it was one of the greatest decisions he’s ever made.
“I have always wanted to serve my country, but because I'm a Mennonite I was raised in an environment where military service is discouraged. It took until I was 32 to find a balance between my faith and my desire to serve,” Friesen said. “Being a 68W is that balance. I can't wait to get back to the conventional Army and get back on the line or into a hospital. The only medical training I had prior to enlisting was basic first-aid and CPR. The Army taught me everything I know and they have some of the best training in the world.”
Friesen continues to serve virtually and assist those on self-quarantine and monitor the health of his battalion until further notice.