Military Experience Provides Foundation for Aid in Ebola Fight
Lombard, IL November 11, 2014 Since mid-August, the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) has been providing ground based logistics coordination for an air bridge delivering medical supplies to West Africa. ALAN’s coordination activities have been supported by two very special volunteers: former US Army Staff Sergeant Robert C. Rains III, and retired US Air Force Colonel Brian O’Connor.
Robert Rains served in Iraq as part of the US Army Airborne Infantry, and was introduced to ALAN at an International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) conference in 2013. Rains’ support for ALAN’s Ebola response included reviewing and recommending warehousing solutions as well as liaising with nonprofit organizations and businesses to ensure cargo was efficiently delivered to US airports. Rains was recently hired by an international non-governmental organization to support last mile logistics for establishing Ebola treatment units in West Africa.
Brian O’Connor met ALAN at this year’s APICS conference in New Orleans. O’Connor served as Commander of the 621st Contingency Response Wing and in 2010 established and trained the rapid deployment force that supported the Haiti earthquake response. O’Connor’s volunteer work with ALAN involves developing processes and relationships necessary to assist NGO shippers with securing military lift via the Denton program. O’Connor recently completed his Master’s degree at Georgetown University, and is hoping to secure a position with a logistics organization in the Washington, DC area.
ALAN executive director Kathy Fulton says of Rains and O’Connor, “Brian and Robert have provided valuable assistance for our air bridge activities. Their knowledge and connections have allowed ALAN to support delivery of over 650,000 lbs of supplies to West Africa. I’m so grateful for their willingness to volunteer their time and logistics expertise to help save lives.”
Fulton continues, “The women and men who have served in our Armed Forces have unique experiences managing in challenging environments. Those are the same skills in high demand by logistics organizations as they seek to reduce risk and improve their resistance to disruption. As we look at the looming labor shortage for the logistics industry, we should closely examine how we can hire more veterans.”