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Big medical mission coming in 2021

Emily Lytle * Delaware
elytle@doverpost.com
Dover Post

While summertime in Dover is best known for attracting music enthusiasts and NASCAR fans, city officials expect people to flock here for a new reason in 2021.

For two weeks in June or July, about 250 military personnel will move in to provide no-cost medical services for the public over eight days.

The medical mission is part of the Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training program, which provides military members with training while they serve communities. Missions fall under five general categories: medical, civil engineering, cybersecurity, transportation and aerial spray.

The Delaware Army National Guard will lead Dover’s IRT mission focusing on dental and optometry care, since the state’s Medicaid program does not include those services.

The Central Delaware Housing Collaborative, a nonprofit that formed from the mayor’s task force to end homelessness, applied for the IRT mission Sept. 30, and it was approved Nov. 1. Several city officials and community leaders met with U.S. Army Capt. Jason Brooks at city hall Nov. 13.

Councilman David Anderson, 4th district, has led the efforts alongside councilmen Ralph Taylor Jr., 2nd district, and Fred Neil, 3rd district.

“This is a great opportunity for community and military partnership,” Anderson said. “It will be an opportunity to help many thousands of our citizens get some basic dental [services], eye care, and medical screening at no cost to them.”

Both the city and Capital School District submitted letters of support. The school district will offer three or more schools for training or housing for troops.

“I could have done absolutely very little … without the leadership of Capital School District. They’re all in,” Anderson said.

He said he hopes patients will connect with resources and services in the community that can help them after the mission leaves.

While the schools will be accessible and within walking distance for many people, Anderson said he hopes to partner with the Delaware Department of Transportation to set up a temporary bus route.

In February, Anderson and his partners in the city will begin connecting with community organizations to get more people involved. “We’re going to need a lot of involvement,” he said.

The official announcement of the mission dates will come in April. After that, the team in Dover can work out logistics, Anderson said.

Anyone who wants to get involved or learn more can email david.anderson@dover.de.us.

IRT mission in Dover 2021

This information is tentative and can change after more planning meetings.

  • Proposed dates in 2021: June 21 to July 2 or July 12 to July 3

  • Locations: William Henry Middle School (65 Carver Road, Dover), Towne Point Elementary (629 Buckson Dr., Dover) and South Elementary School (955 South State St., Dover)

  • Housing for troops: William Henry Middle School/Booker T. Washington Elementary campus, Delaware State University Living and Learning Commons (1570 N. Dupont Highway) or Air Force Base dormitories

  • Services in order of priority: Dental, optometry, behavioral health, family practice and veterinary

  • Leading officials: Councilman David Anderson, Dan Shelton, superintendent of Capital School District, Councilman Ralph Taylor and Councilman Fred Neil