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Crossville national guardsman helps in the fight against COVID-19

Spc. Anthony Spencer said he will continue serving until he is, “no longer needed to help during this crisis.”
Spc. Anthony Spencer
Spc. Anthony Spencer(TN Department of Military)
Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 3:33 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Members of the National Guard across the country and throughout Tennessee stepped up to make a difference when the COVId-19 pandemic began in 2020.

In March 2020, Spc. Anthony Spencer said he knew it was his duty to help his community and state during a time of distress. Spencer said he knew he had the skills to do what was right as a trained healthcare specialist with the Tennessee National Guard.

The Crossville native also serves as the District Executive for the Boys Scouts of America, but put his career on hold to serve as a part of the Scouts of America. Spencer put his career on hold, left home, and risked his own health as a part of the Tennessee National Guard’s initial COVID-19 response team. For more than a year now, he has been a key part of Tennessee’s fight against the deadly pandemic.

“As a Scout and Guardsman, I felt called to be a part of the response and give back to my community that had given me so much,” said Spencer.

Spencer began scouting in elementary school as a Cub Scout and progressed through the ranks to become an Eagle Scout with Crossville’s Boy Scout Troop 271 in 2011. He earned Eagle Scout, the highest honor a Boy Scout can earn, by planning, developing, and constructing a firefighter memorial in front of the Crossville Public Safety building.

“There is only one name on the memorial, and I hope that it stays that way forever,” said Spencer.

While in high school, he worked as a scouting instructor at Camp Buck Toms in Rockwood, Tennessee, and mentored scouts at his troop’s meetings.

After graduating from Crossville High School in 2014, Spencer attended Cumberland University in Lebanon to earn his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. While studying, he contributed to his local scout troop and served as a lifeguard and ski instructor at Camp Buck Toms. By his junior year, he was the camp’s aquatics director.

Two days after graduating from college in May 2018, Spencer enlisted in the Tennessee National Guard as a medic for the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment’s 2nd Squadron, headquartered in Cookeville.

“When school was over, I wanted to do something bigger than myself, I felt called to serve my county,” said Spencer. “I chose to become a medic because I wanted to help people directly. Scouting teaches us that service to others is the highest calling.”

In September 2019, Spencer completed basic combat training in Georgia, followed by 16 weeks of advanced training as a healthcare specialist. Spencer graduated in March 2019 and returned to Tennessee to drill at his unit in Cookeville and work with the Boy Scouts of America.

“It was a dream of mine to become a professional scouter and help give younger scouts the character-building experiences that helped me,” said Spencer. “After all those years working at summer camp, I really wanted to make it a career.”

As the district executive, Spencer helps the organizations in his district plan events, organize and manage their troops, ensure all policies and procedures are followed and help fundraise. He was the executive for nearly a year when the pandemic began.

At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Gov. Bill Lee mobilized more than 250 soldiers and airmen with medical backgrounds to support the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and Department of Health. The Guardsmen were on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 and worked to test citizens across the state.

“When my unit called and told me I was needed, there was no pause, I was excited to do what I was trained for,” said Spencer. “It was a wonderful opportunity to really use my skills as a medic at home and live up to the Scout Slogan to ‘do a good turn daily.’”

Spencer was among the first group of guardsmen used to help in the fight against COVID-19 at drive-thru testing centers.

“Everything happened so quickly,” said Spencer. “In just a few days, I was swabbing people who feared they might had contracted the virus. Some people were very scared, but we did everything we could to comfort them and ensure people we were doing all we could to help.”

Spencer also helped at high-risk communities, long-term care facilities, tested Tennessee State Troopers in Jackson and worked at vaccination sites.

Currently, Spencer is still providing vaccinations at the Trousdale County Health Department. His team has also begun visiting various businesses and organizations in the community offering to vaccinate in locations convenient to them.

“Everyone I’ve worked with during this pandemic has been professional and are doing everything they can to help those in need,” said Spencer. “I love being able to help my fellow Tennesseans to combat this unforeseen enemy. It’s been a privilege to serve.”

Spencer said he will continue serving until he is, “no longer needed to help during this crisis.”

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