INDIANAPOLIS — More support staff members are coming to Camp Atterbury in Johnson County after it was selected to temporarily house evacuees from Afghanistan.
Up to 5,000 evacuees from Afghanistan are expected to arrive at the camp as early as this upcoming weekend, Indian Gov. Eric Holcomb said.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin authorized the move Tuesday as part of Operation Allies Refuge, according to a statement from U.S. Northern Command.
Camp Atterbury joins Fort Bliss in Texas, Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey and Virginia sites Fort Pickett, Marine Corps Base Quantico and Fort Lee.
Support for the mission at Camp Atterbury
Holcomb and Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard, R. Dale Lyles, said several partners are coming to Camp Atterbury to support the mission. Overall, federal partners, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense and State and the National Counterterrorism Commission, are supporting the vetting processes.
More than 800 members from Fort Hood are coming to Camp Atterbury to provide military police, medical, life and logistical sustainment support, Lyles said. Army medical staff from Fort Knox are also coming to Camp Atterbury.
Medical staff will help screen all evacuees coming to the camp, Lyles said. The screening, expected to take about 14 days, will help determine the medical status of evacuees, including being tested for COVID-19, given all needed vaccinations for visa holders and offered mental health resources. COVID-19 vaccinations will also be offered at the camp.
Local law enforcement agencies near the camp are partnering with the camp to identify any security concerns, Lyles said. Physical and security awareness measures have also been heightened around the camp, Lyles said, but there are no known threats or information suggesting the camp could be a security target at this time.
How Hoosiers can help
The Indiana National Guard and partners are in the process of setting up a formal way to process donations. In the meantime, those who want to help can call the guard at 317-247-3559 and have your information put into a database and given to other organizations.
Wild Geese Bookshop in Franklin is collecting donations for the soldiers and medical personnel at Camp Atterbury. The owner, Tiffany Phillips, is partnering with the USO and offering to take your donations to the camp.
"This is not about us at all," Phillips said. "This is just, we're here, we're downtown if you want to drop something off on their USO wishlist, we'll be happy to deliver it for you. But this is really about the people who work there."
Holcomb said he wants the state to help those who assisted and aided the country during the war. He said he wants to make sure the state is being safe, smart, going the extra distance and using everything at the state's disposal to welcome evacuees.
"We need to be there for folks who were there for us period," Holcomb said.
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