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Military preparing to offer free health services in Ferriday

Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Army Spc. Stephen Eveleth, left, practices checking the eyes of Spc. Daniel Dubois at Central Louisiana Technical Community College Wednesday in preparation for the Delta Care Project which will be ongoing from today until Aug. 16.
Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Army Spc. Stephen Eveleth, left, practices checking the eyes of Spc. Daniel Dubois at Central Louisiana Technical Community College Wednesday in preparation for the Delta Care Project which will be ongoing from today until Aug. 16.

FERRIDAY — The U.S. military set up camp in Ferriday this week.

Army and Navy personnel began arriving Saturday as a part of the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training program — a military readiness training program to prepare soldiers for war-time environments by providing medical services to under-privileged areas.

The program, nicknamed Delta Care, begins today and runs until Aug. 16.

Nearly 6,500 people were signed up for the program Wednesday afternoon. The Delta Care Project is no longer accepting appointments, but will take walk-ins after 3 p.m., regardless of income level.

Services will include basic medical, dental and optical services.

Commanding officer and Army Maj. James Compliment said no person would be turned away, unless absolutely necessary.

“Our hours are until about 7 p.m., but we will stay here as long as we have to,” Compliment said.

The 88 soldiers providing the care traveled from several states around the nation, including Texas, Florida and New Jersey.

Soldiers began setting up nearly 1,000 pieces of equipment, ranging from dental chairs to blood pressure cuffs, Sunday and finished Wednesday afternoon.

Most equipment was shipped to Ferriday with the various participating military units, but Compliment said he sent a group of soldiers to Fort Polk Wednesday to get additional medical equipment.

The soldiers didn’t set up equipment alone. Compliment said the National Guard unit from the Concordia Parish area help off-load equipment with cranes.

The Ferriday Police Department is also assisting military personnel.

The department will provide four police officers during the day for crowd control and general security, Police Chief Richard Madison said.

Madison’s operation plan also places one police officer at the technical college for general security from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.