Michigan National Guard
Story by Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera
DIMONDALE, Mich. – Every day since the start of the pandemic there have been those who have been on the front lines steadfastly overseeing the safety of the public. As part of Phase 1B, frontline responders are among those eligible to receive the vaccine.
The Michigan National Guard was in Dimondale on March 4, 2021, administering the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to Michigan State Police (MSP) employees at the department’s headquarters.
“We have a lot of contact with the public,” said F/Lt. Jay Poupard, operations section commander, Michigan State Police. “We want to ensure our employees, who choose to receive the vaccine to help keep them safe, have that opportunity.”
Poupard added, “It’s important for us to display to the public that we’re willing to get this vaccination so that others can have confidence in it too.”
While the vaccine provides an extra layer of safety, MSP employees are still required to perform the same COVID-19 safety measures they have been taking for the past year, such as wearing a mask and frequently washing their hands.
“Our agency’s primary concern is always public safety, and this public safety threat is just a different type of threat,” said Poupard. “Ultimately, it’s the safety of our citizens that is our primary focus regardless of what the threat is.”
Part of the response the MSP has been performing during the pandemic is to assist the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan National Guard during mass testing and vaccination events. The three departments are strengthening ties that were woven together, helping communities through this crisis.
“I knew I couldn’t just sit on the side lines anymore and I had to do something,” said U.S. Army Capt. Daniel Sackmann, with the Michigan Army National Guard currently serving as the officer-in-charge of the Michigan State Police vaccination clinics. “I had to volunteer for this mission—I had to do something for my community.”
Sackmann, who is part of COVID-19 Vaccination Testing Team (CVTT) Task Force Spartan, only works with local health departments when he picks up the vaccines. This means more responsibility for him, but he loves these missions because he is making lasting connections and helping those who serve and protect communities.
“I like it a lot because I get to give back to the people that are always protecting,” said Sackmann “We get to protect them for once—that’s why I love doing this mission here.”
While the MSP clinics are some of Sackmann’s favorites, he has enjoyed traveling the state helping out wherever the missions lead him.
His first mission was at a long-term care facility where nurses and the patients were crying after receiving their initial vaccine and this was the first time in nearly a year patients were out of their rooms. He said that was true ‘lockdown’ and was just happy he was there to help.
He said it was a phenomenal experience when he came back to administer the second dose.
“I think the phrase for this is ‘a mission of hope’ and we’re giving hope in a world full of darkness,” said Sackmann. “Everything is so negative right now, but out here we’re making a difference to save lives and I think that’s what the world needs to hear.”