PHILADELPHIA - Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday said nearly 50 of the state's Air National Guard service members have been activated to support Afghan ally refuge efforts around the country, including at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
"Pennsylvania will do whatever it takes to provide the resources and the open arms for the Afghan people to feel safe and welcomed," Gov. Wolf said.
In addition to providing support at Fort Dix in nearby Burlington County, New Jersey, the state's 43 service members have also been dispatched to the Pentagon and Volk Field, Wisconsin. Wolf says their duties will include security, firefighting and ground transportation.
"Pennsylvania’s airmen possess a variety of skills and they are well-trained to support our federal partners," Deputy Adjutant General for the Pennsylvania Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael Regan said. "Many of our airmen have served in Afghanistan and this mission is one that is particularly meaningful to support."
Pennsylvania was one of the first states to welcome Afghan refugees and evacuees to the country after they were rescued from a chaotic and at times deadly evacuation effort in Kabul, Afghanistan. To date, thousands of Afghan refugees have funneled through the Philadelphia International Airport, with more set to arrive.
Upon deplaning, evacuees go through customs and are then provided with services from at least 35 city, state, and federal agencies, as well as local hospitals, and non-profit partners.
The services provided include culturally appropriate food, basic essentials, medical evaluations, and physical and mental health support services, according to Kenney. COVID-19 testing is also part of the process, and evacuees are presented with an opportunity to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
The city also offered on-site interpretation in a variety of languages, including Dari Pashto, Urdu, and Farsi.