Michigan National Guard
Story by Master Sgt. Scott Thompson
WAYLAND, Mich. -- For U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Abigail Olsen, Operations Manager with the 127th Wing, Selfridge Air National Guard base, service is a family tradition.
"My parents met back in the '70s while they both were on Active Duty in the Army," Olsen said. "My mom really encouraged us to get out of the house and go into the military. All four of us girls joined, and my brother did not. I guess we're tough as nails."
As members of the Michigan National Guard, all four sisters have seen their share of overseas deployments over the past 10 years.
With the National Guard's dual mission, supporting federal and state authorities, the call for volunteers to help with COVID vaccine distribution in Michigan was an easy choice for Olsen to make.
For months the Michigan National Guard has been providing testing for COVID-19, assisting in food banks, working at regional care facilities throughout the state. Now Guard members are supporting vaccine distribution to Michiganders.
Olsen understood the importance of the vaccine mission, having contracted COVID-19 back in November 2020.
"It hit home for me when I got COVID. I had headaches, body aches, lost my sense of taste and smell, fever, cold sweats, horrible sinus pressure," Olsen said. "I am better now and want to help my community stop this virus."
The Michigan National Guard supports local and federal agencies' requests to ensure vaccinations are distributed promptly to help mitigate COVID-19 and protect the communities within Michigan's 83 counties.
Since the spring, the MING has had more than 1,100 Soldiers and Airmen working throughout the state, providing support to communities during the pandemic.
"One team, one fight," Olsen said. "You meet all these wonderful people in the community; why would you not want to help!"
Olsen understands about giving back to her community by volunteering in her off-duty time with the Big Brother Big Sister Foundation in Detroit.
"I wanted to be part of the community and do something that I know will improve young ones, and mold their minds and help them in a different direction," Olsen said. "Becoming a big sister was it."
Olsen reflects on the many moments she has experienced so far during her time on the mission. One, in particular, stands out.
"We heard an older gentleman had walked with his walker many blocks uphill through the snow to get to the vaccine site," Olsen said. "My Soldiers asked, ‘Can we help him out and drive him back home? I responded, 'absolutely.'"
It is that kind of dedication and care to the community's people that is the driving force behind why Soldiers and Airmen are helping their fellow Michiganders.