In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 through the military community, Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday decreed that personnel and families would need to use face coverings on military bases when social distancing practices aren’t practical.
“Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers (this does not include in a Service member’s or Service family member’s personal residence on a military installation),” according to Esper’s memo.
On Monday, the services followed up with specific guidelines for troops, recommending they view the Center for Disease Control’s guidance for face coverings, which advises that coverings include multiple layers and be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage, among other tips.
Oh yeah, and keep it conservative.
But even before the service guidelines came out, the men and women of the armed forces, and their spouses, did what they have always done: See a problem and find a solution.
We asked members of the military community to share their face covering photos with Military Times. Here is some of what they came up with.
Stationed in Guam, the family of Navy Lt. Cmdr. Clark Hartley joined the ranks of many on the island by creating their own production line to help those who need face coverings.
“Living on the remote island of Guam, with limited resources, and supporting the fleet, we’ve had to be resourceful!” Hartley said in an email to Military Times. “The community has been very receptive to the need for face coverings. Many military households are sewing for themselves, their neighbors, and the medical staff holding the front line in the war on COVID-19. #GONAVY."
Meanwhile, over in Germany, Linda Casul, a vocalist with the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band, stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, got creative with her mask design.
“I have opted for mess dress chic for my mask,” she said in an email to Military Times. “Keeping it classy with the cummerbund!”
In Georgia, the folks at the Atlanta Military Entrance Processing Station are in full compliance thanks to a group called the Sewing for Good Foundation, associated with Boy Scout Troop 75.
"First use of mask, and excellent for environment at MEPS, " said Petty Officer 2nd Class Will Evans, a Navy MEPS liaison. “Our team is in full compliance across the services. Bridge of the Nose bugs a bit by the end of the day. They were made by a Scouting parent. Free.”
And in Madison, Wisconsin, airmen with the 115th Fighter Wing at Truax Field Air National Guard Base, came up with a wide array of facial coverings.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.