Hurricane Irma Deployment, 2018
By LCDR Jonathan Leshin, PhD
Senior Regulatory Review Advisor
Center for Veterinary Medicine
Food and Drug Administration
What was the mission of this deployment?
My mission was to serve on the Service Access Team for U.S. Virgin Islanders with special medical needs in Atlanta, GA from 03/23-04/5/18
What was your role during this deployment?
During deployment, I acted as a case worker for people from the U.S. Virgin Islands with special medical needs to help repatriate them back to their homes or to try and get them settled on the U.S. mainland. Most skills were interpersonal, connecting with people on an individual level, or administrative, helping move documentation around to arrange travel or medical appointments scheduled.
Was this your first deployment?
What was the most important thing you learned during this deployment?
Ask Questions!! If you don't know the answer, ask. Ask until you feel like you are comfortable with the answer.
What did you enjoy the most about this deployment?
Working with a diverse group of officers. As a scientist, I mostly work with other scientists, and this gave me an opportunity to work with nurses, social work, pharmacists and more.
What would you consider to be your major accomplishment stemming from this deployment?
I worked to get a hotel extension for a Non-Medical Attendant with an infant in the NICU so she had a place to stay for the 4 days before she could move into her apartment.
What were some of the challenges that you experienced during this deployment?
The U.S. Virgin Islands shut down for 5 days during the Easter Holiday, which made getting information or processing things during that time difficult. Also, translation issues with Puerto Rico made it challenging to get information.
How did you prepare for the deployment – personally or work-wise?
I called my supervisor, and briefed my supervisor and coworkers on any ongoing projects that needed managing. I also made sure to contact people for PHS related work to ensure they knew I was offline and set up new points of contact.
Were there any classes, trainings that you had completed prior to your deployment that helped you in your current deployment?
How was your post deployment/reintegration experience? Was it smooth to transition back to your daily life as experienced prior to deployment?
Relatively smooth. Took time for family to adjust back.
Do you have any advice or “pearls of wisdom” for fellow officers who are being deployed/interested in deploying?
Be prepared for changes in schedule or priorities. Be flexible. Stay well rested, hydrated and fed to the best of your ability. Work with leadership through any problems and keep notes to keep track of important issues so nothing slides out of mind.
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