Lions Club and Fort McCoy offer eye care to Afghan immigrants | Local News

Task Force McCoy has partnered with the Wisconsin Lions Club to equip Afghan evacuees here with eyeglasses.

The Lions Club brought in tens of thousands of eyeglasses from its recycling program, provided eye exams for Afghan evacuees and fitted them with eyeglasses.

“We do eye exams for Afghan guests and distribute the glasses,” said Wisconsin Lions Club mission coordinator Steve Kraus. “These are all glasses that have been given away over time for some reason, and they are all used glasses. We brought 20,000 pairs of glasses.

When the Wisconsin Lions Club heard of the thousands of Afghan evacuees who would be coming to Fort McCoy, they began planning the logistics of bringing eyeglasses to the group.

“About three months ago I got a call from another Lion in Wisconsin asking if it was possible to do this, and it sounded like a really good idea,” explained Bill Taubman, president of the Wisconsin Lions Club missionary program. “So I said ‘let’s go’, and that’s exactly what we did.”

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The Wisconsin Lions Club brought in volunteers, donated eyeglasses, ophthalmologists, eye care doctors and refractors, an instrument used in eye exams that tests a patient’s eyes with different lenses to determine which lens appears blurry or clear to ensure Afghan evacuees received the correct prescription for their eyes.

“When they first come here, they’re put in front of a spot checker, and that spot checker electronically reads the prescription that these people need,” Taubman said. “The first thing with the filter is if people have really good eyes, we fire them. If they don’t, we put them in front of the doctor and the refractor, and that gives us a specific prescription for them.

“From that moment, they turn to our volunteer pickers, they are the ones who examine the prescription and choose the glasses that these people need. Then they go through people we call fitters, who make sure the glasses stay on their heads. They may have to bend and pull, things like that. It’s a fairly simple process, but it’s a good process.

For Afghan evacuees, these glasses give them a fresh start as they attend English classes at Fort McCoy and navigate the resettlement process.

“We are very grateful for all these events, most of us when we left we either left our glasses or they got broken or damaged,” an Afghan evacuee explained at the event. “I am so happy with this event that our eyes were examined and those who needed them received their glasses. It’s good for them to be prepared for their release, whether they go to school or start work. We really appreciate USA and all the staff who made this event possible.

The event also allows Afghan guests who were unaware they needed glasses to be screened and receive the eye care they need.

“This assignment is just amazing because many of our guests have probably never seen an eye doctor or had routine eye care, things we take for granted here in the United States,” said Megan Sands, Department of Homeland Security. logistics coordinator and liaison officer. “I think it’s absolutely a testament to the kindness of these people, they’re willing to leave their homes for four days. Come here, bring all these things and volunteer their time, and they’ll be back in December. That’s really heartwarming, and I understand that the guests are so grateful and understood that so well.

The eyeglass recycling program is a longtime effort of the Wisconsin Lions Club with more than 30 years of missions in various countries.

“The Wisconsin Lions have been doing this for about 30 years now,” Taubman said. “We’ve done this in several countries in Central America, we’re going to Haiti, we’ve worked on a Native American reservation in southwest South Dakota, the Pine Ridge Native American reservation.”

While prescription glasses are a small item often taken for granted in America, many Afghan evacuees thanked Fort McCoy personnel for setting up the optometry clinic for them.

“Yesterday someone said, ‘Thank you very much, I lost my glasses during the evacuation of Kabul, and so did my wife. I couldn’t see properly for months; Thank you very much. You have improved the quality of our lives,” Sands said.


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