City of Alexandria, VA
History of the Medical Reserve Corps
The MRC was founded after President Bush's 2002 State of the Union Address, in which he asked all Americans to volunteer in support of their country. It is a partner program with Citizen Corps, a national network of volunteers dedicated to ensuring hometown security. Citizen Corps, along with AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Peace Corps are part of the President's USA Freedom Corps, which promotes volunteerism and service nationwide.
MRC units are community-based and function as a way to locally organize and utilize volunteers who want to donate their time and expertise to prepare for and respond to emergencies and promote healthy living throughout the year. MRC volunteers supplement existing emergency and public health resources.
MRC volunteers include medical and public health professionals such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians, and epidemiologists. Many community members—interpreters, chaplains, office workers, legal advisors, and others—can fill key support positions.
MRC units are provided specific areas to target by the U.S. Surgeon General, that strengthen the public health infrastructure of their communities. These are outlined priorities for the health of individuals, and the nation as a whole, which also serve as a guide to the MRC. The overarching goal is to improve health literacy, and in support of this, he wants us to work towards increasing disease prevention, eliminating health disparities, and improving public health preparedness.
MRC volunteers can choose to support communities in need nationwide. When the southeast was battered by hurricanes in 2004, MRC volunteers in the affected areas and beyond helped communities by filling in at local hospitals, assisting their neighbors at local shelters, and providing first aid to those injured by the storms. During this 2-month period, more than 30 MRC units worked as part of the relief efforts, including those whose volunteers were called in from across the country to assist the American Red Cross (ARC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
During the 2005 Hurricane Season, MRC members provided support for ARC health services, mental health and shelter operations. MRC members also supported the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) response and recovery efforts by staffing special needs shelters, Community Health Centers and health clinics, and assisting health assessment teams in the Gulf Coast region. More than 1,500 MRC members were willing to deploy outside their local jurisdiction on optional missions to the disaster-affected areas with their state agencies, the ARC, and HHS. Of these, almost 200 volunteers from 25 MRC units were activated by HHS, and more than 400 volunteers from more than 80 local MRC units were activated to support ARC disaster operations in Gulf Coast areas.