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Military operation to offer free medical, dental, veterinary care
Operation Empower Health to provided services May 10-18 around Savannah
St. Josephs/Candler President and CEO Paul P. Hinchey stands Wednesday at the podium, joined by Georgia Southern University President Jaimie Hebert, left, and Lt. Col. Andrew Magnet of the 165th Airlift Wing of the Georgia Air National Guard to announce Operation Empower Health Greater Savannah at the Georgia Southern Armstrong campus. - photo by Provided

Thousands of people in need of medical care can receive it at no-cost in May during Operation Empower Health-Greater Savannah, a U.S. Military exercise supported by St. Joseph’s/Candler and Georgia Southern University.

Troops from all over the United States will deploy to Savannah and set up medical, dental, vision and veterinary services in four key locations from May 10-18. It will be the 2018 flagship exercise of the Department of Defense’s annual Innovative Readiness Training Program.

Services will be offered from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 10-18 at the following locations:

•         Savannah Civic Center, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave.

•         Georgia Southern University-Armstrong Campus, University Hall, 11935 Abercorn St.

•         Garden City Recreational Department, 160 Priscilla D. Thomas Road, Garden City

•         Savannah State University, Social Sciences Building, 3219 College St.

The goal is to not only provide valuable training for the military, but to give important medical services to those in southeast Georgia who might not otherwise have access.  

“Operation Empower Health-Greater Savannah provides our service members with unique, real-world training opportunities to prepare for military missions at home and abroad,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Magnet of the 165th Medical Group of the 165th Air Lift Wing of the Georgia Air National Guard.

“This IRT mission will bring our total force together as active duty, Reserve and National guard Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from across the country employ their respective areas of military expertise to plan and conduct training, and refine mission essential skills.”

Knowing the need in the community for these services, St. Joseph’s/Candler and Georgia Southern University jointly applied to bring the training to Savannah. Key partners in Operation Empower Health are the City of Savannah, Garden City and Savannah State University, all of which will be providing space for the medical services as well as a place for the troops to bed down and eat.

“We are very grateful to the U.S. Military for selecting Savannah for this training,” said Paul P. Hinchey, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s/Candler. “It is estimated that between 20 and 25 percent of all residents of Chatham County are underinsured or uninsured.  And while St. Joseph’s/Candler has been striving for years to improve access to care through our many outreach programs – the need is still great.

“While the military will be providing the core medical services, St. Joseph’s/Candler will be working with those served to make sure they get the follow up care they need or bring them into a medical home for the long term.”

Magnet, Hinchey and Dr. Jaimie Hebert, president of Georgia Southern University announced the event during a press conference on the Armstrong campus Wednesday.

“Georgia Southern has always had a vested interest and involvement in Savannah, but now more than ever we are demonstrating our commitment to this community in real and measurable ways,” Hebert said. “My sincere thanks goes out to all of the Savannah community and the Department of Defense and our men and women of the armed forces, who will be providing this service to our community.”

Savannah’s 165th Airlift Wing is the lead unit. All branches of the military are involved in this year’s IRT mission, including the Army Reserve’s 3d Medical Command out of Atlanta, Multifunctional Medical Battalion out of Savannah, the Navy’s Eyeglasses fabrication unit out of Virginia and the Marine Corps Forces Reserves 4th Dental Battalion out of New Orleans.

For more information for the community, please call 912-819-5300 or visit

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