Afghan refugees begin arriving at US Army installation in Wisconsin

A dining facility is being prepared for the arrival of Afghans at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Aug. 18, 2021. The Department of Defense, in support of the Department of State, is providing transportation and temporary housing in support of Operation Allies Refuge. This initiative follows through on America's commitment to Afghan citizens who have helped the United States, and provides them essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo taken by Sgt. Nick Vidro / 326th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Emily Hamer

The Wisconsin State Journal

Fort McCoy, a U.S. Army installation near Sparta, started receiving refugees from Afghanistan Sunday after the recent collapse of the Afghanistan government to the Taliban.

The U.S. is planning to provide support for up to 22,000 at-risk individuals within three to four weeks at three military installations, including Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy. It’s unclear how many refugees will stay at Fort McCoy.

“This afternoon, special immigrant visa applicants, their families and other individuals at risk arrived here,” Fort McCoy said Sunday in a statement. “We expect these arrivals to continue throughout the day and the coming days.”

The other two installations that the Department of Defense approved to temporarily house vulnerable Afghans are Fort Lee in Virginia and Fort Bliss, Texas, according to Fort McCoy’s public affairs office.

About 2,500 civilians and 450 military personnel work at Fort McCoy, which is located on about 60,000 acres between Sparta and Tomah, in Monroe County. The U.S. Northern Command is working to expand Fort McCoy’s capacity for housing refugees, the public affairs office said.

Roughly 1,000 military service members has started assembling at Fort McCoy to provide support. In addition to housing, the public affairs office said staff will provide the refugees with medical care and transportation support.

The U.S. has been working to evacuate Afghan translators, interpreters and others who worked for the U.S. during its 20-year war there. Fort McCoy said it’s proud to support the U.S. in that goal.

“We look forward to the opportunity to treat our temporary guests with the utmost respect and Wisconsin hospitality as they commence their special immigrant visa process,” Fort McCoy said.


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