Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee came to the National Guard’s Smyrna Volunteer Training Base Thursday to inspect and deploy the 146 men and women of the Joint Task Force Medical to assist 35 Tennessee counties at coronavirus testing stations.
The Joint Task Force, composed of National Guard soldiers and Air National Guard airmen, will fan out across the state in three, four or five-soldier teams to assist the public health agencies.
Lee told the National Guard personnel: “There are 6.7 million Tennesseans who are counting on you. We have a huge challenge before us as a state, one that’s different than one we’ve faced before.”
Approximately 80 percent of the team have medical specialties, and the remainder have a range of skills from truck driving to supply. The unit is led by Army National Guard Maj. Kale Queen, who said: “These personnel are all volunteers. They all care about Tennessee. It’s very much a case of ‘whom shall I send? – send me!’ ”
After the governor’s assignment, Joint Task Force Medical was planned, constituted and executed in four days.