NEWS | Feb. 19, 2021

Kentucky Guardsmen Support Greatest Generation

By Staff Sgt. Lerone Simmons Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

“If it were not for the Kentucky National Guard, we would not have been able to keep our doors open.”

This was a recurring sentiment echoed from the staff at Sayre Christian Village, a senior living community, located in Lexington, Ky., one of eleven recipients of supplemental facility support from the Kentucky National Guard.

Sayre is a nonprofit senior living community that provides housing, rehabilitation, and long-term nursing care. They serve all levels of care; from independent, assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, and long-and-short-term care. They have been open to the public since 1983.

This unique support from the military comes as part of a COVID 19 directive issued in November by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, where Kentucky National Guardsmen were activated on Facility Assistance Support Teams (F.A.S.T) to provide support to at-risk long term health care facilities, located in “red zone” counties that suffered from higher cases of COVID 19.

“Our mission is to provide hope, housing, and healthcare, regardless of the pandemic,” said Karen Venis, Sayre CEO. “COVID has certainly made things more challenging for us as a standalone nonprofit, to achieve our mission.”

Venis and her staff were eager to share their excitement and appreciation for what the Governor’s office and the Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard did for them in their time of need.

“The Governor’s initiative, which took a lot of planning and logistics between the governor’s office and the Kentucky Guard has felt seamless and effortless to the senior living communities they are helping,” said Venis.

Approximately sixty Kentucky National Guard Soldiers were activated to fulfill duties ranging from mail sorting, COVID 19 screening, and facility decontamination, which allowed healthcare staffers to provide residents with quality medical and wellness care.

“They helped us unpack, assemble, and move furniture for the opening of our expansion, they delivered the mail, they disseminated and sorted personal protective equipment to all the floors for staff, and they sanitized (with our electrostatic sprayer) common areas on a regular basis,” said Angela Goodlett, Sayre’s assisted living director.

COVID 19 mitigation was forefront during facility operations; which included limited contact between Soldiers and residents, however, both parties took notice to one another’s presence.

“We were honored to provide support to the Greatest Generation, said Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Rezac, senior enlisted leader, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade and F.A.S.T member. “Being able to safely assist Sayre and other facilities across the state during the pandemic has been a fulfilling experience for myself, Maj. Bill Crowe, and our staff.”

Rezac worked alongside Soldiers who have been on COVID 19 support in all facets; from testing support, long term healthcare facility support, to vaccine rollout.

“It felt great to work closely with their staff and we even had the privilege to show some appreciation to one of their residents, World War II U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Paul Frederick, who served throughout the Pacific and at Iwo Jima,” said Rezac.

“It feels great to know that I work for an organization that not only fights and wins our nation’s wars overseas, but also takes the time to tend to our nation’s needs here at home,” he said.