Department of Defense providing free vision, dental, medical care being provided at Columbus Civic Center

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – In partnership with Valley Healthcare System, Inc. and Piedmont Columbus Regional, the Department of Defense is offering free vision, dental and basic medical services at the Columbus Civic Center Monday through Thursday of this week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and this Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. There are no income or residency requirements, and appointments aren’t necessary.

The clinic began on Wednesday, Aug. 3, and the same services are being offered at Providence Baptist Church in Opelika, Alabama and at the old high school in Lumpkin, Georgia.

The services are being provided through the DOD’s Innovative Readiness Training program. Lt. Col. Ray Martin, the military officer in charge of the event at the Civic Center, said the program has two goals.

“The first goal is for training for our military troops,” he said. “The second goal is no cost humanitarian care for the community.”

This is not an annual event in the area, Martin said.

“Valley Heath Care had applied for this IRT mission two years ago, and it was cancelled, unfortunately, because of COVID,” he said. “So then we came back to do it now.”

This IRT is one of the only ones this year to get a Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Activity (NOSTRA) unit, used for manufacturing glasses

“So once the optometrist gives them a prescription, we actually manufacture their glasses here, and we’ll deliver it within three days,” Martin said.

As for dental care, dental exams, cleanings, fillings and extractions being offered.

The basic medical care being provided include health screenings for conditions such as diabetes and hypertension as well as health counseling

“One of our goals is to get them to a medical home, so we’re creating a partnership with Valley Healthcare to get a medical home to get continuing treatment,” Martin said.

Martin said low and no cost prescriptions are available through the program depending on people’s needs.

“Our community partners have been amazing here in Columbus, Georgia,” Martin said. “Valley Healthcare, Piedmont hospital system, and Providence Baptist Church out in Opelika, Alabama and then the folks in Stewart County, Georgia. They were just amazing partners that helped make this work. They’ve contributed a lot of supplies and donations and things for our troops.”

Martin said this IRT is the last one being offered for this annual cycle.

“It does happen annually in sites such as Hawaii; Kodiak, Alaska; Cherokee Nation in northeast Oklahoma; Birchwood in Tennessee,” he said. “So there are locations all over the United States.”


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