ODOT Guard member thanks coworkers for support

Major Josiah Roldan has helped keep mass vaccination sites running smoothly around the state as part of Joint Task Force Guardian, which includes about 250 Air and Army National Guard personnel. In his other life, he serves as ODOT’s Employee Safety manager. He says his work helping curb the pandemic wouldn’t have been possible without his supportive coworkers.

From left – ODOT’s Troy Costales, Oregon Air National Guard’s Greg Malkasian and ODOT’s Josiah Roldan

 “My job [with the guard] is to manage and oversee that whole operation,” said Roldan, who’s been a public health officer for the Oregon Air National Guard for more than 11 years and was a medic in the U.S. Army before that.

“It takes a lot of planning and logistics certainly,” Roldan said. That means talking to people on the ground, including patients going through the clinics in Portland, Salem and Deschutes County, making sure airmen and soldiers know where and when to report, are paid and have transportation.

Making a front-line difference

 “When we first started the mass vaccination sites,” Roldan said, “as people were getting their shots, it was a sense of relief, especially for those high-risk populations. Getting a vaccine was a lifesaver literally.”

Nationally, the Guard had administered more than 6 million vaccine shots by early April, according to a news release. By mid-April, Guard personnel in Oregon had administered more than 168,000 shots.

”Just seeing the impact we have and being able to give vaccines to so many people and hopefully getting the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, I think that’s truly what’s important to me,” Roldan said. “We are part of something big here; we are in the spearhead of putting COVID-19 behind us.”

Thanking his supporters

This is Roldan’s longest deployment and he said it wouldn’t be possible without support from those around him.

“I just really want to thank Troy (Costales) and my coworkers and ODOT in general,” Roldan said. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now without their support.”

Roldan nominated Costales, Transportation Safety Division administrator, for a Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and was on hand as Costales accepted it in early April at the Oregon National Guard’s Anderson Readiness Center in Salem.

Costales said the real kudos should go to Roldan.

 “Josiah is a person of great integrity and great value,” Costales said. “He’s gracious and puts people in front of himself and he shows that by putting on the uniform as part of the National Guard.”

Roldan, a third generation service member, sees any deployment as an opportunity to learn and share the skills he uses each day at ODOT, including building relationships and developing rapport with a wide array of coworkers.

 “This is a unique experience for all of us as a military and national guardsman,” Roldan said. “I think it just shows how important our roles are in being able to give back to the community.”

Watch a video featuring Roldan and Costales talking about the benefits of National Guard work.