Northern California Guardsmen Heading to West Africa in Ebola Fight

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Local soldiers are heading to West Africa to help fight Ebola.

A unit of the California Army National Guard based out of San Francisco will join units from six other states on a humanitarian mission.

"So there are about 2,100 reservists and National Guardsmen across the nation who, in the spring, will be headed to West Africa," National Guard Captain Will Martin said.

Six soldiers from the Linguist Detachment of the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion will have an important job of bridging the communication gap.

"Africa is a very diverse place because of all the colonization in past centuries. I think part of it is also any time you go overseas, you have cultural issues beyond language," Martin said. "It's helpful to have those linguists who are experts in various cultures."

The soldiers aren't expected to have any personal contact with Ebola patients, but their role could change once they get there.

"Once they get on the ground, that could occur. They could actually be translating with the patients," Martin told FOX40. "Really, it's whatever the needs are once they arrive. We are preparing them for the most close contact possible."

Right now, the military doesn't know which soldiers from the detachment will be chosen to spend up to year in West Africa. They are currently pooling a list of candidates that fit their criteria.

So far, Captain Martin says no one has opted out, afraid they will catch the deadly disease.

"If somebody is willing to deploy to combat, going to West Africa - where there is a very, very small chance of them contracting that disease - it's really not a risk mission on their part," Martin said.

The military is also making plans to protect people back at home. After returning from deployment, the soldiers will undergo a 21 day monitoring period to make sure they haven't contracted Ebola.


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