VICENZA, Italy – Soldiers from U.S. Army Garrison Italy helped deliver roughly $500,000 worth of medical supplies to Italian hospitals in Vicenza, Pisa and Livorno.
The Feb. 1 delivery was just one portion of a larger $10 million package of U.S. Department of Defense-funded supplies donated in partnership with U.S. European Command and the U.S. Embassy in Rome. The aid package reflects the longstanding friendship between American and Italian people, said Maj. Gen. Andrew M. Rohling, commander of U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa.
“We’re proud to be part of this contribution. Our Italian medical professionals have taken great care of us over the years, and now it’s our turn to give a little back,” Rohling said. “This is what we do for our friends. This is what we do for our neighbors and our community. Together we will defeat COVID.”
During COVID-19 operations, the U.S. government supported Italy with roughly $60 million in health, humanitarian and economic assistance, according to the U.S. Embassy in Rome. Part of the $10 million assistance, provided by the DOD and USEUCOM, went to the Italian Civil Protection Agency for distribution throughout the country. Overall, the current shipment includes 5,000 pediatric masks, 24,000 filtering face piece masks, 28,000 surgical masks, more than 1,600 surgical gowns. A subsequent shipment of 12,000 gloves will follow at a later date.
Trucks from the Logistics Readiness Center, Italy, part of the 405th Army Field Support Brigade - Europe and Africa, drove pallets of supplies to the various hospitals. Italian media were on hand to document the deliveries for the local news.
In the Veneto, headquarters of USAG-Italy, Lt. Col. Joseph Matthews, Commander, U.S. Army Health Center – Vicenza, took part in the delivery to San Bortolo hospital in Vicenza.
“U.S. military personnel, civilian employees and their family members receive outstanding healthcare from Italian medical professionals in the communities where our installations are located,” Matthews said. “During COVID-19, our Italian partners continue to support the U.S. military with vital healthcare resources and care for military personnel and their families.”
Afterward, Rohling met with Giovanni Pavesi, who oversees the public health system for the province of Vicenza.
The donation shows the importance of the relationship between the U.S military community and Italian healthcare professionals, Pavesi said.
“We are really appreciative of this donation,” Pavesi said. “Our relationship with the Americans was already strong before the pandemic and it will be even stronger when the crisis is over.”
In Tuscany, supplies were delivered to three medical centers in the areas of Pisa and Livorno. Ragini Gupta, U.S. Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Florence, attended alongside U.S. military personnel.
“The United States stands together with Italy today, as we have so many times in the past,” Gupta said. “Our support to Italy during the COVID pandemic includes tens of millions of dollars in health, humanitarian and economic assistance provided by the U.S. government, and involves the critical contribution of the U.S. military.”
U.S. Army Garrison Italy directed the aid to Italian medical centers in Vicenza, Pisa and Livorno, in order to make the largest, and most immediate impact possible, said Col. Dan Vogel, USAG-Italy commander.
Vogel has overseen garrison operations for the past year, coordinating closely with local Italian leadership to make sure that U.S. Army personnel adhere to Italian COVID-19 restrictions and ensure that Soldiers and their families have access to Italian support.
“We truly hope that this protective equipment will help our Italian medical professionals,” Vogel said. “They have greatly supported our U.S. military communities in Veneto, Tuscany and elsewhere.”
Lt. Col. Kelley C. Togiola, left, public health emergency officer, and Pietro Maculan, resident at the San Bartolo hospital, chat during a personal protective equipment (PPE) delivery at San Bortolo Hospital, Vicenza, Italy, Feb. 1, 2021. The U.S. Army Garrison Italy assisted in delivering $500,000 worth of PPE to Italian hospitals in Vicenza, Pisa and Livorno. (U.S. Army Spc. Meleesa Gutierrez) (Photo Credit: Spc. Meleesa Gutierrez)