Military mission will bring healthcare, engineering to city

Published 5:13 pm Friday, December 2, 2011

Marengo County will receive healthcare and infrastructure assistance from up to 150 military personnel this Spring as part of a training exercise by various military branches.

The troops assigned to this mission could tentatively be based at the Demopolis National Guard Armory as guests of the Army National Guard’s 2101st Transportation Company and will operate from one of several facilities under consideration in the City of Demopolis.

During their stay, troops will provide free outpatient medical, dental and vision services to area residents in need. This will include mental health counseling, prescriptions, glasses if needed and a host of other services, all at no cost.

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In addition to the healthcare operations, the deployment will also include civil engineering specialists who will undertake construction and engineering tasks around the city to assist Demopolis with a backlog of municipal repairs and projects.

City Purchasing Director Jay Wright, who has organized the event on behalf of the city, said the mission would be similar in scope to the goodwill exercises overseas where troops provide medical and engineering aid to developing counties.

“We’ve got some drainage projects that we expect to get some help with and there are plenty of people right here that could use access to good free healthcare,” Wright said.

The troops that will be coming to town, Wright added, will be fully skilled in their trades and deliver a level of care that is comparable to what you would find in any traditional medical office.

“What you find, especially in the Guard and with reserves, is their military trade mirrors their daily jobs,” Wright said. “The dentists in this mission are dentists in their communities, the doctors are doctors, the nurses are nurses and so on.”

Military, town, county, state and federal leaders recently held a logistics meeting in Demopolis, which was met with positive feedback from Mission Coordinator Col. Jerry Arends, an Air National Guard Health Services Officer assigned to the Pentagon.

Military planners will return at the end of April with the main body arriving the last weekend of April to set up both their living quarters and the location designated for operations.

Wright also said May 4 and 5 are likely to see a high concentration of distinguished visitors, which could include several high profile state and federal officers.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to provide badly needed services to our most at-risk citizens, show support to our troops and to showcase our city to our visitors, the press and to federal, state and local officials and agencies,” Wright said.

“We intend to ensure that we obtain assistance for as many of our area residents as possible, to show these troops our true appreciation, and make Demopolis shine to the rest of the state in the process.”