National Guard Member Appreciates Support During Mass Vaccination Deployment


ODOT’s Roldan says “thank you” and helps agency get Patriot Award

Keeping mass vaccination sites running smoothly and ensuring the right staff and resources are in place to provide vaccines around the state requires military-like precision.

Since mid-January, Major Josiah Roldan has been the deputy commander overseeing this logistical feat as part of the Joint Task Force Guardian, which includes about 250 Air and Army National Guard personnel.

“My job is to manage and oversee that whole operation,” said Roldan, who’s been a public health officer for the Oregon Air National Guard for more than 11 years and was a medic in the U.S. Army before that. Roldan is also Employee Safety and Risk Manager at the Oregon Department of Transportation.

“It takes a lot of planning and logistics certainly,” Roldan said. That means talking to people on the ground, including patients going through the clinics in Portland, Salem, and Deschutes County, making sure airmen and soldiers know where and when to report, are paid, and have transportation.

Making a front-line difference

Roldan and Costales talk about the benefits of the National Guards’ work.

 “When we first started the mass vaccination sites,” Roldan said, “as people were getting their shots, it was a sense of relief, especially for those high-risk populations. Getting a vaccine was a lifesaver, literally.”

Some patients at the mass vaccination site, including one considered high-risk who’d been at home for eight months, saw vaccines as tickets to freedom, he added.

”Just seeing the impact we have and being able to give vaccines to so many people and hopefully getting the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, I think that’s truly what’s important to me,” Roldan said. “We are part of something big here; we are in the spearhead of putting COVID-19 behind us.”

Nationally, the Guard had administered more than 6 million vaccine shots by early April, according to a news release. By mid-April, Guard personnel in Oregon had administered more than 168,000 shots.

Thanking his supporters

This is Roldan’s longest deployment and he said it wouldn’t be possible without the support he gets from the agency, his boss, and his coworkers. He hadn’t been with us in his new position very long when he learned he was being called up – and he only had a few days to prepare.

“I just really want to thank Troy (Costales) and my coworkers and ODOT in general,” Roldan said. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now without their support.”

Roldan nominated Costales, ODOT’s Transportation Safety Division administrator, for a Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and was on hand as Costales accepted it in early April at the Oregon National Guard’s Anderson Readiness Center in Salem.

Costales said the real kudos should go to Roldan.

 “Josiah is a person of great integrity and great value,” Costales said. “He’s gracious and puts people in front of himself and he shows that by putting on the uniform as part of the National Guard.”

Roldan, a third-generation service member, sees any deployment as an opportunity to learn and share the skills he uses each day at ODOT, including building relationships and developing rapport with a wide array of coworkers.

 “This is a unique experience for all of us as a military and national guardsman,” Roldan said. “I think it just shows how important our roles are in being able to give back to the community.”

Read more from ODOT, here.

About Author

Katherine Benenati joined ODOT as Assistant Communications Manager in July 2019. Previously she served as a public information officer at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the chief of the Public Outreach and Assistance Division at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Before moving to public affairs, she worked as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Maryland, California and Arkansas.

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