BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
Forces battling the pandemic have much to be thankful for this year as Defense Logistics Agency employees at DLA Disposition Services locations across the country have transferred almost $36.8 million worth of excess military items to service members and first responders working to stop the coronavirus spread and help those already afflicted.
DLA has so far redistributed over 3 million free items from almost 5,500 orders to qualifying organizations. DLA Disposition Services continues screening medical supplies including gloves, masks and ventilators, as well as other non-medical items like tents, tables and blankets being turned in by military units for possible use in the COVID-19 response. Examples include hospital lights provided to a Navy health clinic in Hawaii and thousands of gloves, first aid kits and emergency medical supplies sent to law enforcement agencies across the country.
“Besides providing items that are often in short supply commercially, we are also helping responders save the funds they would have used to buy the items elsewhere to fund other needs,” said DLA Disposition Services Director Mike Cannon.
Throughout the pandemic, Cannon has praised employees who’ve remained on site to collect and redistribute supplies.
“Every single item requested had to be physically handled by our employees,” he said.
DLA Disposition Services regularly supplies excess property to first responders. Law enforcement agencies receive excess equipment through the Law Enforcement Support Office, and fire departments access items through the Defense Department’s Firefighter Program, a partnership between DLA Disposition Services and the U.S. Forest Service.
“The medical supplies we have received during this pandemic have been a blessing to our fire fighters,” said Olivia Standridge, rural fire protection coordinator for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division. She added that many Arkansas fire departments “rely heavily, some solely” on excess equipment they receive from DLA.
“Some of the departments respond to medical calls, so anything we can provide them to aid in that while protecting themselves and others is always paramount but more especially now,” Standridge said.
Supplies received by Arkansas’ fire fighters include exam gloves, medical tubes for administering oxygen, litters, splints, gauze and bandages.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Limited Excess Property Program also continues to request excess material. September requests included 55 hospital exam tables from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, that will be used by American schools and hospitals abroad. October’s orders were for surgical and water sterilizers worth $3.4 million from Norfolk, Virginia, that will be distributed to various LEPP recipients.
According to LEPP’s October newsletter, the surplus property it received this year went to 12 countries where USAID provides aid and development assistance. The items included generators, laptops, school furnishings, and medical consumables, as well as ophthalmology, laboratory and dental equipment.
As a member of DLA Disposition Services’ Reutilization, Transfer and Donation Office, Cassandra Gilbert helps track medical items from collection to redistribution. The work reminds her of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”
“When we are able to provide excess Department of Defense property to agencies like USAID, it answers that question for us. We are helping save lives,’’ Gilbert said.
First responders and nonprofit organization representatives can check with their state’s surplus property office to see if they are eligible to acquire items from DLA Disposition Services.