MING Soldier takes unique path to pay for further education

U.S. Army Soldiers with the Michigan National Guard, currently serving with Michigan’s Task Force Red Lion COVID-19 Vaccination/Testing Team (CVTT) assists the Detroit Health Department at administering the COVID-19 vaccine to residents of the community during a vaccination clinic held at TCF Center, Detroit, Michigan, April 6, 2021. Michigan National Guard CVTTs are augmenting with local health care organizations, as requested, in the delivery and administration of the vaccination to Michiganders. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. David Kujawa)

Michigan National Guard

Story by Master Sgt. David Eichaker

DETROIT — For one Michigan National Guard (MING) Soldier, serving her community as a combat medic has shown her what additional career opportunities exist in a broader world she never experienced before. Her story is one that many Michigan National Guard members experience and why serving is such a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth for the men and women who serve.

After graduating from Ogemaw Heights High School in West Branch, Michigan, Pfc. Lorna Hoffman attended college to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. After two years at college, she found herself needing help paying for her education and decided to join the Michigan Army National Guard, enlisting on December 10, 2019.

“I finished my prerequisites for the nursing program and had intentions to finish but came to a dead end financially,” she said.

Hoffman is a combat medic with the 1171st Medical Company Area Support Battalion, based in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and is currently serving with COVID-19 Vaccination Testing Team (CVTT) Task Force Red Lion. Task Force Red Lion was assembled by the Michigan National Guard to support vaccination efforts in southeast Michigan.

“I joined the Guard hoping that it would help provide financial assistance and allow me to continue pursuing my degree.”

Joining the Michigan National Guard was an easy choice as it came with an opportunity to serve while remaining close to her family.

“I wanted to serve but didn’t want to pursue active duty,” said Hoffman. “I wasn’t sure how I would be able to handle being away from my family and attend college, but the Guard afforded me that opportunity.”

After completing basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, she spent four months at combat medic school at Fort Sam Houston, located in San Antonio. Attending basic training and medic school was insightful and opened her eyes to the world around her compared to growing up in her small hometown of approximately 1.5 square miles.

“I felt like I was in this little bubble in my hometown with a set culture,” said Hoffman. “Going into training and meeting other Soldiers helped me broaden the way I think, understand and perceive things.”

“It helps you figure out who you are, pulls you away from what you’re used to and allows you to formulate opinions of your own,” she said.

Being mobilized as a combat medic supporting Michigan’s response to the coronavirus, Hoffman’s primary role is to vaccinate residents at vaccination clinics throughout the state. Conducting more than 3,500 vaccinations since January, she reflected on some of her experiences that she otherwise would have missed if she had not joined MING.

“Meeting new people is the best part of it,” she said. “I get to meet so many people — good people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”

With this duty to state and community, MING’s CVTTs have supported local healthcare organizations, as requested, in the delivery and administration of the vaccination to Michiganders. This brings a sense of pride to Hoffman.

“I wanted to do this because it’s what I joined for — to help our state and offer support where needed,” she said. “Being a medic, I play a vital role in our effort to vaccinate the public and I feel honored that I have had an opportunity to continue helping our community.”

The CVTTs make up four MING task forces which provide assistance throughout the state, from small towns to large cities and communities throughout both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Each task force is comprised of National Guard members in administrative support roles and medics.

“Medics serve as a medical provider and review medical histories, allergy history as it pertains to the vaccine, administer the vaccine and answer questions people may have,” said U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Bendall, 1st Battalion, 182nd Field Artillery Regiment, currently assigned to Task Force Red Lion.

“PFC Hoffman is a great example of someone who can fall in and help where needed,” said Bendall. “Our medics do it without complaint and I couldn’t be happier with her and our team of medics.”

The mission has given Hoffman direction in her civilian education which helped shape her decision to change her educational path.

“I plan to return to school this August and pursue a degree in cardiac sonography,” said Hoffman. “During training, I realized I didn’t want to be a nurse anymore and family is really important and being away helped me realize my priorities.”

“I plan on utilizing the GI Bill to help me pursue additional studies.”

Individuals looking for more information about how service in the Michigan Army National Guard or Air National Guard can lead to opportunity and a life changing experience, contact: Michigan Army National Guard Recruiting at www.miarmyguard.com, 888-906-1636 or the Michigan Army National Guard app or Michigan Air National Guard recruiting, 1-800-432-4296 or Facebook at https://facebook.com/MIANGRecruiting/

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