Mission Critical: Koch Service Members Join the Battle Against COVID-19

May 29, 2020

min read

Employees from multiple Koch companies are serving their country in response to COVID-19. Here are just a couple we’re proud to claim among our ranks.

Steve Tillery, a Command Sergeant Major with the 111th EOD Group out of Opelika, Alabama, has seen a lot in his 34 years serving in the Army National Guard. He was activated to help in the relief efforts for both Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, and he spent lengthy deployments overseas for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

As the call came to help support the Alabama Department of Public Health (Medical Operations Unified Command) gathering data at healthcare facilities around the state to provide an accurate picture of COVID-19 infections, CSM Tillery was ready to roll. Since he began his current assignment working 10- to 12-hour days, he and his team have conducted 132 missions coordinating the cleaning and disinfection of nursing homes and long-term care facilities across Alabama – an assignment that’s directly benefitting those most at risk.

“I would tell you, seeing it firsthand, I take it very seriously,” said CSM Tillery.

While his military duties have kept him away from his role as Koch’s military relations program manager, CSM Tillery is grateful for the support and understanding he’s received through all of his service-related outages. It’s part of why he works to bring in other transitioning service members who share the same commitment and drive to help others.

“One of the values we have in the Army is selfless service. In all my deployments, that’s something I’ve experienced seeing soldiers put the needs of others before themselves,” he said.

Further north in Wisconsin, fellow Guardsman Isaac Geffers is providing support in a much different capacity. For Geffers, an account specialist with Georgia-Pacific and first lieutenant with the National Guard’s 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion out of Wausau, Wisconsin, his mission has been to protect the democratic process.

Geffers’ unit has actually been activated twice to help with the state’s COVID-19 response, providing election support across the state. With many polling volunteers in the high-risk category for contracting the disease, he and his fellow troops were tasked with manning community polling stations. As the regional officer in charge for the northeastern part of the state during his most recent activation, it was Geffers’ responsibility to coordinate with county officials and determine how many soldiers were needed.

“I tried to assign soldiers to their local communities to reduce the risk of travel,” he said. “There, they helped at the polling booths to ensure voters maintained a safe distance, and that sanitization procedures were being followed.”

At these polling stations, he and his troops also assisted civilians with their ballots, helped voters determine which districts they belonged to and controlled foot traffic to maintain social distancing recommendations and capacity restrictions. After the elections, he received multiple reports from local officials complimenting the work ethic and professionalism of his Guard members.

“Some said that these elections would not have been as successful without that support,” said Geffers. “I thought the response from the National Guard was exceptional and showcased the values and duties of what the Wisconsin Guard stands for. But the best part was seeing communities come together for a common purpose.”