JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. – Four members of Indiana’s congressional delegation visited Camp Atterbury this week.
The military base is now housing more than 6,500 Afghan evacuees, according to Congressman Greg Pence (R-Indiana), who led the delegation’s visit.
“The base commander Mike said yesterday Camp Atterbury now has a bigger population than the city next door to it, Edinburgh,” Rep. Pence said.
Congressman Pence said Monday marked his fourth visit to Camp Atterbury, this time joined by Reps. André Carson (D-Indiana), Jim Baird (R-Indiana) and Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana). Evacuees began to arrive about a month ago.
Rep. Pence said although some of the evacuees are still learning American customs, he has never seen anything unusual about the conditions there.
“I have not seen in any of my visits anything that I would say was an unhealthy or an unsafe situation,” Pence said.
“It’s just normal community issues that they’ve had to deal with,” he added.
About 500 military police officers are on-site to handle those issues, Pence said.
Congressman Carson said he feels “reassured” the military is quickly dealing with anything that comes up.
“There are fewer and fewer outbreaks of different concerns as well as COVID, and so they really have a grip on the situation,” Carson said.
For the past month, several health care providers have been offering medical treatment to the evacuees.
Kelsey DeClue, a spokesperson for Columbus Regional Health, said most of the services her team has provided include emergency department treatment and maternity care.
“So far we’ve been able to handle anything that’s come our way from Camp Atterbury and to kind of help coordinate any follow-up care,” she said.
Columbus Regional Health is ready to continue providing care as long as it’s needed, DeClue added.
Meanwhile, officials are continuing to vet the evacuees to determine if they’ll be able to stay in the U.S.
“A big part of Hoosier hospitality is really helping people in need, and the Afghans coming into our state need our help, our kindness and compassion more than ever,” Rep. Carson said.
“They’re doing a good job, and I’m very confident that when it’s all said and done that it’ll be the right people that’ll stay in this country,” Rep. Pence said.
About 40% of the Afghan population living at Camp Atterbury includes kids under 14 years old.
As for the future, several organizations are working to help find permanent homes for the evacuees, Pence said. Officials anticipate many of the Afghans will relocate out of the Indianapolis area, he added, but the region has the ability to accommodate some of them.