AMU Graduate Provides Relief from Coronavirus Shortages
By Laurel Holland
Guest Contributor, In Military
During the current coronavirus pandemic, relief has come in many forms from small gestures to massive aid efforts. One of those people providing relief is Navy Seabee veteran Kevin Dougherty, who received a bachelor’s degree in transportation and logistics management in 2015 and a master’s degree in transportation and logistics in 2018, both from American Military University.
Kevin puts his leadership and supply chain management skills to work serving veterans every month. He is responsible for the Free Produce Market for veterans and service members at the Veterans Administration hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts. This market is a partnership between the hospital and the Greater Boston Food Bank.
The market began as a small indoor pantry, serving 130 veteran families in 2017. Under Kevin’s management, it was transformed into a scalable, drive-up market in January of 2019 that now has over 2,000 veteran households enrolled and serves hundreds monthly.
Free Produce Market Provides Much-Needed Food to Veterans and Active-Duty Servicemembers
This market turned out to be critically important during the coronavirus pandemic because it allowed veterans to simply drive up to the market to get needed produce without leaving their cars or going into stores. Many veterans are considered a high-risk population due to their age and underlying health conditions.
Access to healthy food is a significant aid to health. So it was considered essential to keep the market going throughout the pandemic, even when it started to snow.
Using his leadership skills and talent in logistics, Kevin worked with the produce delivery truck driver and VA grounds forklift operator. They placed multiple pallets at a safe distance from each other, in consideration for the safety of hospital staff working during the peak of the coronavirus crisis in Massachusetts.
Ordinarily, Kevin organizes hospital volunteers for this production. But during the pandemic, the use of volunteers has been suspended. Instead, Kevin recruited other staff from the hospital to serve as assistants, in order to maintain service for the veterans and active-duty military service members who come to the market each month for assistance.
Even in late April snow, hundreds of cars were lined up to receive produce. In less than a minute, each vehicle’s occupants received a pineapple, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, mangos, beets, and salad mix.
After the market is over, Kevin ensures that any extra produce is loaded in a military-style production line onto a bus. He then drives the bus to Hanscom Air Force Base and distributes the food to other active-duty families.
Kevin received the 2018 AMU Distinguished Graduate Award. It is no surprise that his unwavering service, commitment, and excellence still shine through to serve his community.
He is a tremendous credit to AMU, the VA, and Navy veterans. Kevin’s favorite motto is the Seabee slogan: “The difficult we do immediately: the impossible takes a little longer.”
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