Feature   Defense News

DLA Disposition Services Makes Excess Military Items Available for COVID-19 Response

April 17, 2020 | BY Tim Hoyle

One organization's excess is often another's dire need. Sometimes it's not so much a matter of shortages as it is a matter of distribution.

Government organizations and nationwide hospitals are getting valuable assets to confront the coronavirus pandemic from a Defense Department asset that manages the military's excess equipment.

From Battle Creek, Michigan, Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services personnel oversee a global operation taking in equipment that's unneeded or unwanted because it's either being replaced by newer equipment  or it's just worn out.

A parked former military vehicle carries a sign that it is being used as a food service truck.
Lunch Delivery
The West Mifflin Area School District in Pennsylvania uses former Massachusetts National Guard trucks as school lunch delivery vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo By: Photo courtesy of DLA
VIRIN: 200401-D-D0441-1012

Since a national emergency was declared as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the DLA has provided almost 50,000 excess items – $2 million worth – such as personal protective equipment, beds, cots, ventilators and pouches for bio-hazard and human remains. Lists of available excess medical equipment are being provided to the DLA Headquarters COVID-19 Task Force, which works with military commands, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to determine where the items should go.

DLA Disposition Services has also recalled items it previously turned over to public sales contractor IronPlanet, including 47,000 N95 masks retrieved from Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. DLA partnership with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency has helped make other equipment available, as well.

While much of DLA Disposition Service's global workforce is now teleworking, almost 300 employees are still reporting to their regular worksites to process property turn-ins.

A woman in a warehouse checks at medical inventory.
Equipment Check
Property Disposal Specialist Keneicsha Monroe examines some ventilators at the DLA Disposition Services site at Fort Bragg, N.C. Monroe and other specialists at all DLA Disposition Services sites have been working to locate high demand-medical supplies and equipment in the excess property inventory to prepare items for reutilization, transfer and donation requisitions in support of the COVID-19 response.
Photo By: Curtis Mitchell, DLA
VIRIN: 200318-D-D0441-001

''I lead a wonderful team of professionals — property disposal specialists, environmentalists, contracting specialists, inventory management specialists and others operating in field locations across 42 different states and 15 countries — sometimes working in dangerous places,'' said DLA Disposition Services Director Mike Cannon. ''I think it's a great place to work with wonderful people who execute a mission daily that is always challenging and demanding, even when things are 'normal'.''

Field locations remain open although hours and operations may be reduced, he added. Employees continue to receive items ranging from ordinary household and office equipment to specialized items like uniforms, sleeping bags and tents. Material in good condition is first made available to other military units, then to other federal agencies like FEMA, followed by state agencies and local governments.

''We also have programs that Congress has, in some form of legislation, told us to operate to give priority to military excess to different groups like the Law Enforcement Support Office, the firefighter program managed by the U.S. Forest Service and an educational support effort called Computers for Learning,'' Cannon said.

LESO gives law enforcement agencies access to excess items like vehicles, tools, computers and other items needed to help protect citizens. Recipients pay only transportation costs plus maintenance or conversion costs. 

A man in a warehouse scans boxes on pallets.
Mask Pallet
Jeremy Sexton, a project supervisor for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, locates N95 masks to prepare them for pickup by the Defense Logistics Agency to make them available for use by the U.S. Transportation Command through joint efforts by DLA Distribution and DLA Disposition Services.
Photo By: James Eason, Defense Security Cooperation Agency
VIRIN: 200401-D-D0441-003

''A good example are the former military vehicles being used by the police department of the West Mifflin Area School District in Pennsylvania to deliver food to students staying home because of school closures,'' Cannon said. 

The West Mifflin Area School District in Pennsylvania uses former Massachusetts National Guard trucks as school lunch delivery vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Likewise, DLA helps fire departments receive excess Defense Department property such as vehicles and tools through the Forest Service. Schools have also received excess information technology items for many years, some of which teachers may be using for online learning during the pandemic. 

''We have outfitted hundreds of schools, and it's really enlightening because they will typically send us a picture of the kids at the computers,'' Cannon said. ''So we get to see that DLA can enhance education across the nation by donating excess computers to a school district that might not otherwise be able to afford it without raising taxes.''

(Tim Hoyle is with DLA Disposition Services)