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Iowa National Guard unit heading to Africa to help battle Ebola outbreak

Ebola is treated in West Africa earlier this year.
Ebola is treated in West Africa earlier this year.

DES MOINES – By order of the Secretary of Defense, the 294th Area Support Medical Company, Iowa Army National Guard based in Washington, Iowa has been notified of a pending mobilization in support of Operation United Assistance. The mobilization will affect approximately 80 Soldiers from the unit.

Operation United Assistance, the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, is led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies are providing certain unique, supporting capabilities as needed to the operation.

Army National Guard personnel, in conjunction with other U.S. military personnel, are being deployed to provide military force command and control, engineering, logistical, and training support to the whole-of-U.S. Government humanitarian mission. This deployment is in support of a humanitarian mission designed to stop the spread of the Ebola virus and keep it from becoming a pandemic that could potentially impact American citizens. It is anticipated that the deployment will commence in Spring 2015 and last for approximately six months.

The 294th ASMC provides full-spectrum medical support operations for a designated area of operations, including casualty triage, basic medical treatment and sustainment of life, and transport of injured and sick personnel. During Operation United Assistance, the 294th ASMC will only provide direct patient care to U.S. Dept. of Defense personnel and coalition servicemembers; they will not be involved with direct patient care of the local population. It is anticipated that the mobilization will not exceed one year, with an anticipated period of six months in the West Africa area of operations.

All Soldiers will be provided necessary training and equipment to prevent the Ebola virus from infecting them. As a precautionary measure and to ensure everyone’s safety, all Soldiers redeploying from Africa will undergo an observation program overseas to ensure all returning personnel are healthy and have not contracted the Ebola virus.

In response to the deployment announcement of this Iowa National Guard unit, Congressman Steve King released the following statement :

Congressman Steve King
Congressman Steve King

“God Bless everyone who is willing to go to the Ebola stricken regions in Africa,” said King. “I have many times said they should be volunteers for a mission to fight an unseen, lethal enemy. As part of the Iowa family, our prayers go with you all.

Except for U.S. citizens quarantined upon their arrival, the President should immediately halt travel between the U.S. and any country that is a source of the Ebola outbreak. According to the State Department 13,500 foreign nationals from Sierra Leon, Guinea, and Liberia have been granted travel visas for the U.S. These individuals could pose a serious threat to the public health and security of the U.S. This threat must be contained and controlled.”

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