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Monday, October 18, 2021

Retired Military Volunteers Help Vets Schedule COVID Vaccinations

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — Volunteers at Team Vance’s Retiree Activities Office have been helping local retirees schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments since the vaccine became available to Oklahomans in January.

Technology has provided the tools to rapidly allow very large populations to register and schedule appointments to receive the COVID-19 injections, but many seniors do not have computers or are not proficient in their use and were having trouble scheduling appointments, George Pankonin, the director of the office said Feb. 5.

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Steve Long and retired Col. Jim Faulkner seized the opportunity to assist retirees by getting them scheduled, Pankonin said.

Retired Col. Jim Faulkner, back, retired Chief Master Sgt. Steve Long, seated, and retired Maj. George Pankonin, volunteers at the Team Vance Retiree Activities Office, discuss how to help senior veterans in Enid schedule the COVID-19 vaccinations, Feb. 4. The team helped more than 30 vets during the first week of the program. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. James Bolinger)

In the first week of outreach, the two helped more than 30 vets get their vaccinations scheduled.

The two stay in contact with the Garfield County Health Department so they know when new appointments are added to the portal and then get the seniors booked, Pankonin said. They also monitor the website for cancellations during the week so they can get more seniors scheduled.

“Our mission has always been to help retirees, and often that means providing assistance that is now exclusively available on-line,” said Pankonin. “I’m proud, but not at all surprised that our staff recognized a problem that retirees had in getting COVID-19 injections and stepped up to serve them.”

Those older than 65 who need help getting scheduled for the COVID-19 injection can contact the Retiree Activities Office at 580-213-7859.

The Retiree Activities Office helps retirees, as well as all other base personnel, with income tax preparation through the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program.

Story by: Tech. Sgt. James Bolinger. He is the Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of Team Vance Public Affairs. He assists the Public Affairs Officer with strategic communication for the Air Force’s 3rd busiest airfield. Sergeant Bolinger is a 16 year veteran of the Air Force with prior assignments at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Afghanistan and Vance Air Force Base.

2nd Lt. Alyssa Letts
2nd Lt. Alyssa Lettshttps://www.vance.af.mil/
Second Lieutenant Alyssa Letts is the Public Affairs Officer at Vance Air Force Base. She commissioned into the Air Force in May of 2020, after graduating from the University of Houston with a B.A. in Journalism.

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