Most people are familiar with Where’s Waldo, but have you heard about Wendell Henderson? He travels so much in support of hurricane relief and the coronavirus pandemic, we often ask the question, “Where’s Wendell?”
Henderson in Coast Guard uniform
Henderson served in the Coast Guard from 1979-1987 and has been a VA employee for the last 11 years. His primary role at the VA Medical Center in Jackson, MS, is a transportation driver. During natural disasters, he serves as part of VA’s Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS).
He’s often asked to deploy to provide transportation support or move the Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) (pictured above… with Wendell) to areas hard hit by hurricanes or tropical storms.
Hurricanes, COVID-19, VA staff
Since January 2020, Henderson estimates that he was on the road for about 120 days. When the Beaumont CBOC was damaged due to flooding from a tropical storm, he deployed with the MMU to be used as a temporary outpatient clinic.
Then in March, COVID hit New Orleans and he spent 42 days transporting DEMPS staff from hotels to the VA Medical Center in New Orleans.
He also provided hurricane relief in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Henderson has also deployed to other cities in support of the coronavirus pandemic, including Martinsburg, West Virginia, to transport a 25-bed hospital to Buffalo, New York. He set up COVID vaccination tents in Washington, D.C.
“I do this for the people who need help”
He transported COVID tents from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Houston and Montgomery, Alabama,and he picked up a mobile morgue in New Orleans and drove it to Little Rock.
“I do this for the people who need help. I like doing things like this not only for the Veterans, but also their communities.”
Henderson is back home in Mississippi for now but is ready to go whenever and wherever an emergency occurs.
Susan Varcie is a public affairs officer with the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center.