(WSMV) – The United States Army is getting ready to fight a new enemy, one that’s invisible to the naked eye.
The Pentagon is sending 3,000 soldiers to Liberia to help in the battle against Ebola, some of them deploying from Fort Campbell.
“We’re here to protect the citizens of the state and the nation, so this is just another opportunity for us to prove our wealth as soldiers,” Maj. Walter Hatfield said.
Soldiers at Fort Campbell suited up Thursday, practicing what’s soon to become a day-to-day routine in their next deployment. Capt. Alex Willard is one of the 700 Fort Campbell soldiers headed to Liberia.
“The Army’s been tagged with building 17 of the Ebola treatment units, not the healthcare aspect of it, but the building of it,” Willard said. “We’ll be setting up warehouses to make sure all the stuff the doctors need gets in country, built with the facilities they need to treat the patient, and just really, the logistical expertise, I think, will be crucial.”
Army officials said Liberia has already seen more than 3,000 cases of Ebola, more than half of those people dying. Training on Thursday taught soldiers how to protect themselves from exposure to Ebola through wearing a full body suit, layers of gloves and masks.
“We understand that Ebola is an airborne pathogen that gets on the skin, so this is going to keep the virus from their person,” Hatfield said. “It affords them the chance to go through a decontamination process that washes them in a bleach solution that kills the virus and brings them back from a hot zone where the virus actually is to a cold zone where they’re free of that virus.”
“We can really show that we can go and protect people in different parts of the world and to help Americans feel a little safer,” Willard said. “We’re helping people of Liberia with this deadly virus, so it won’t come back over to the states.”