The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS) has awarded The Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic Campaign Medal (C-19PCM) to more than 100 service members in the State Defense Force of Ohio (OHSDF). The OHSDF is the only state unit of its kind to be awarded this medal.

The USPHS Commissioned Corps is one of the nation’s uniformed services — a branch committed to the service of health. Its officers serve to advance the nation’s public health through agencies across the government, as physicians, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, scientists, engineers and other professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic placed them in the middle of this healthcare crisis.

In March 2020, OHSDF personnel were activated for the Ohio National Guard’s Operation Steady Resolve, augmenting Ohio Army and Air National Guard in several capacities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The activation mobilized approximately 150 OHSDF service members in Ohio for 15 months.

Service members’ duties included working in food banks and nursing homes and providing COVID-19 testing around Ohio. Their service was duly noticed by the federal USPHS, which qualified some OHSDF personnel for the medal.

Awarding of The Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic Campaign Medal is historic, marking the first time OHSDF personnel have been recognized for their contribution to a national response. The reverse of the medal sums it up, inscribed “For efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic and restore global health.” Previously, OHSDF soldiers have received The President’s Volunteer Service Award and The Ohio National Guard’s Special Services Ribbon for Operation Steady Resolve.

The State Defense Force of Ohio includes the Ohio Military Reserve, the Ohio Naval Militia and the Ohio Cyber Reserve. Its primary missions center on disaster and emergency response. These organizations include service members who bring expertise and experience with a spirit of volunteerism and esprit de corps with the primary purpose of helping the citizens of the State of Ohio.

The OHSDF Commanding General reports directly to the Adjutant General of Ohio, with Ohio’s Governor serving as the Commander in Chief.