BATTLE CREEK, Michigan –
Government organizations and nationwide hospitals are getting valuable assets to confront the coronavirus pandemic from a Defense Department asset that manages the military’s excess equipment.
From Battle Creek, Michigan, Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services personnel oversee a global operation taking in equipment that’s unneeded or unwanted because it’s being replaced by newer stuff or just worn out.
Since a national emergency was declared for the COVID-19 outbreak, the activity has provided almost 50,000 excess items – $2 million worth – such as personal protective equipment, beds, cots, ventilators and pouches for bio-hazard and human remains. Lists of available excess medical equipment are being provided to the DLA Headquarters COVID-19 Task Force, which works with military commands, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to determine where the items should go.
DLA Disposition Services has also recalled items it previously turned over to public sales contractor Iron Planet, including 47,000 N95 masks retrieved from Letterkenny Army Depot. DLA partnership with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency have helped make other equipment available, as well.
While much of DLA Disposition Service’s global workforce is now teleworking, almost 300 employees are still reporting to their regular work sites to process property turn-ins.
“I lead a wonderful team of professionals – property disposal specialists, environmentalists, contracting specialists, inventory management specialists, and others operating in field locations across 42 different states and 15 countries – sometimes working in dangerous places,” said DLA Disposition Services Director Mike Cannon. “I think it's a great place to work with wonderful people who execute a mission daily that is always challenging and demanding, even when things are ‘normal.’”
Field locations remain open although hours and operations may be reduced, he added. Employees continue to receive items ranging from ordinary household and office equipment to specialized items like uniforms, sleeping bags and tents. Material in good condition is first made available to other military units, then to other federal agencies like FEMA, followed by state agencies and local governments.
“We also have programs that Congress has, in some form of legislation, told us to operate to give priority to military excess to different groups like Law Enforcement Support Office, the firefighter program managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and an educational support effort called Computers for Learning” Cannon said.
LESO gives law enforcement agencies access to excess items like vehicles, tools, computers and other items needed to help them protect citizens. Recipients pay only transportation costs plus maintenance or conversion costs.
“A good example are the former military vehicles being used by the police department of the West Mifflin Area School District in Pennsylvania to deliver food to students staying home because of school closures,” Cannon said.
Likewise, DLA helps fire departments receive excess Defense Department property such as vehicles and tools through the Forest Service. Schools have also received excess information technology items for many years, some of which teachers may be using for online learning during the pandemic.
“We have outfitted hundreds of schools, and it's really enlightening because they will typically send us a picture of the kids at the computers,” Cannon said. “So we get to see that DLA can enhance education across the nation by donating excess computers to a school district that might not otherwise be able to afford it without raising taxes.”
Visit the DLA website for more information on the programs and services DLA Disposition Services offers.