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Fort McCoy officials give an inside look into the base housing Afghan refugees

Nearly 13,000 Afghan refugees call the base home for now
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Posted at 6:21 PM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 23:47:36-04

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — For the first time since Afghan refugees arrived at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, we got a deeper look inside the base.

Nearly 13,000 refugees call the base home, and that number continues to rise: so far eight children have been born there.

We also learned large numbers of guests are pregnant women and almost half the population is made up of children.

Guests have a community center, laundry facilities, access to WiFi and four dining areas, among other things.

"Every meal that we serve is halal," said U.S Army Lieutenant Colonel Jen McDonough. "In fact we have an imam chaplain here on post that validates all the certificates that come with the halal protein."

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Halal products come from animals and or poultry that have been prepared according to Islamic Law.

During the tour, you can see inside a classroom filled with children and adults learning English alongside one another.

We also see inside the clothing distribution center, where more than 200,000 items of clothing have been given away.

Beyond that, their medical needs are also being met, Fort McCoy Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Darrell Guthrie said.

"In a period of five days the team of soldiers, contract medical personnel vaccinated more than 12,00 evacuees," Guthrie said.

They are vaccinated against things like measles, chicken pox and COVID-19.

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Abduhadi Pageman was an Afghan Air Force pilot. He now lives on the base and said so far, life is better here in America than it was in wartime Afghanistan.

"For me everything is fine, it's a big base. We can go walk around and spend time with people. I have no complaints," Pageman said.

However, he does acknowledge there are differences.

"Absolutely , there is some differences between the way we cook and the way you cook," Pageman said.

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Like many things for the refugees, it's a learning curve, and Fort McCoy officials say they are here to help them along the way.

Fort McCoy officials say they are now in the position to begin resettling a large group of people into their new homes.

We recently learned that MPS is on standby to welcome an unknown number of Afghan students soon.

They also said they have 80 English as second language (ESL) teachers in the district. Depending on how many students they get, they could possibly hire more.

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