1,000 Afghan evacuees to arrive at Camp Atterbury within days

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INDIANAPOLIS — Governor Eric Holcomb said evacuees from Afghanistan should be arriving at Camp Atterbury in southern Johnson County by the end of the week.

Up to 1,000 evacuees are expected in this first wave of temporary visitors with the camp prepared to handle a maximum of 5,000 Afghans escaping their homeland after the departure of U.S. military forces.

“These are the same folks who for decades have assisted and aided us on a very dangerous terrain,” said the governor. “People who worry about waking up tomorrow.”

Eight hundred troops from Fort Hood, including military police and medical personnel, will augment the 220 Indiana National Guard troops who are typically stationed at the base.

“We do not want to put any pressure on Johnson County Hospital or any other hospital in the area,” said Indiana National Guard Brigadier General R. Dale Lyles, “and we’re taking measures to prevent that through contracting regionally to bring medical equipment to Camp Atterbury such as the necessary x-ray machines for TB discovery, the necessary equipment to do the necessary medical screening processes.”

Lyles said each evacuee will be screened for COVID-19 before arriving at Camp Atterbury and offered the vaccine to combat the pandemic.

He said evacuees will also be vaccinated for other diseases such as polio and measles as is a standard requirement of any visa holder entering the U.S.

Lyles said medical testing and processing should keep evacuees at Camp Atterbury a minimum of two weeks.

“We believe that there will be what I describe as a 14-day process of a medical screening once they land. Once they come to Camp Atterbury, we will do that. There will also then be a vetting process to determine what status they are in and commensurate with that status will be determined their ability to leave Camp Atterbury.

“Can they leave Camp Atterbury after their 14 days of medical screening?” Lyles asked. “After they’ve been thoroughly and thoughtfully vetted and we understand what their visas allow them to do? Yes, they can. Everyone who comes to Camp Atterbury, the U.S. government will know who they are.”

Lyles said the military was beefing up security on the site which was a relief to Johnson County Sheriff Duane Burgess.

“They’re gonna handle everything inside of Camp Atterbury,” said Burgess following a meeting with Indiana National Guard commanders. “They’re bringing the right folks to the table. The federal authorities, military police and we’re gonna continue to do our job outside of that gate and ensure that the people of Johnson County stay safe.

“We just ask the people of the southern half of Johnson County who are Atterbury’s neighbors to be respectful, law-abiding and allow them to do their job,” he said, “and the people that are here protecting Atterbury are also protecting the southern half of Johnson County and everybody in Indiana. They’re doing their job and please allow them to do their job.”

Governor Holcomb said state officials are already receiving phone calls from Hoosiers asking how they can assist the evacuees transitioning into their new lives in the United States.

The governor referred all inquires to (317) 247-3559.

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