“We were contacted by base leadership to lend our support to the 4,500 A-School students who were required to ROM after the holiday break,” said Christopher Ponchak, General Manager, NEX Great Lakes. “By utilizing our NEX Quarantine Program, we were able to offer a variety of food, beverages and other basic items since students couldn’t leave their rooms.”
To let the students know about the NEX Quarantine Program, the NEX staff provided them with a QR code before and after the holiday break. The QR code gave the students electronic access to the NEX merchandise order sheet. Once students gained access to the order sheet, they selected the items they wanted to purchase and sent it to the NEX. Once received, the NEX fulfilled the order, contacted the student to complete the transaction and then delivered the merchandise to the barracks quarterdeck for free, typically within 24 hours. The NEX offered the program to students from Dec. 28. 2020 – Jan. 8, 2021.
“During the peak, it was all hands on deck at the NEX where we had over 50 associates dedicated to this program, using 11 cash registers to ring up the sales just to keep up with the demand,” said Ponchak. “My team did an extraordinary job pulling and delivering over 46,000 items to over 10 different barracks during that two-week period. Being able to support these young men and women during a time when everyone is a little down due to COVID-19 really reenergized me and my team and shows what the NEX is really all about which is supporting our military members however and whenever we can.”
The students were thankful for the program as well. “I appreciate everything you guys are doing for us. Thank you so much,” said Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Wendy Correia. Interior Communications Electricians Apprentice Dusty Sweeney, wrote, “Thank you all for doing this! We all appreciate this system very much.”
The NEX Downrange Program was originally created overseas to support troops who are forward-deployed without access to a NEX. But due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the program has transformed into a quarantine support program to support service members who have either been placed on ROM by their commands or aboard a ship in port overseas and unable to disembark.
When students arrived back at Naval Station Great Lakes Illinois, Training Support Center after holiday break, they were required to be on restriction of movement (ROM) for 14 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help support those students, NEX Great Lakes stepped up and modified the NEX Quarantine Program to make their ROM a bit more comfortable.