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NEWS | Feb. 23, 2021

Retired-military volunteers help vets schedule COVID vaccinations

By Tech. Sgt. James Bolinger 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Volunteers at Team Vance’s Retiree Activities Office have been helping local retirees schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments since the vaccine became available to Oklahomans in January. 

Technology has provided the tools to rapidly allow very large populations to register and schedule appointments to receive the COVID-19 injections, but many seniors do not have computers or are not proficient in their use and were having trouble scheduling appointments, George Pankonin, the director of the office said Feb. 5. 

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Steve Long and retired Col. Jim Faulkner seized the opportunity to assist retirees by getting them scheduled, Pankonin said. 

In the first week of outreach, the two helped more than 30 vets get their vaccinations scheduled.

The two stay in contact with the Garfield County Health Department so they know when new appointments are added to the portal and then get the seniors booked, Pankonin said. They also monitor the website for cancellations during the week so they can get more seniors scheduled.

“Our mission has always been to help retirees, and often that means providing assistance that is now exclusively available on-line,” said Pankonin. “I’m proud, but not at all surprised that our staff recognized a problem that retirees had in getting COVID-19 injections and stepped up to serve them.”

Those older than 65 who need help getting scheduled for the COVID-19 injection can contact the Retiree Activities Office at 580-213-7859.

The Retiree Activities Office helps retirees, as well as all other base personnel, with income tax preparation through the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program.