30 June 2009

Admiral James G. Stavridis assumes EUCOM Command

STUTTGART, Germany — The official party for the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Change of Command Ceremony, from left to right, Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense, Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. James G. Stavridis, incoming commander of U.S. (EUCOM), and Gen. John Craddock, outgoing commander of U.S. EUCOM during the HQ U.S. EUCOM Change of Command Ceremony. June 30, 2009 (Department of Defense photo by David Robinson)

STUTTGART, Germany — Joint Combined Color Guard at U.S. European Command Change of Command Ceremony, June 30, 2009. (Department of Defense photo by David Robinson)

The EUCOM Commander oversees all American forces under the United States European Command and also serves as the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, which is NATO’s highest military position.

In that NATO position, Admiral Stavridis will be a partner of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who recently became the new commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Admiral Stavridis comes to EUCOM after leading US Southern Command since 2006. New York Times profile on who they call the "Renaissance Admiral" here.

Virtual Iraq: Confronting combat stress with high-tech exposure therapy

While Virtual Iraq may look cartoonish, therapists said that in previous virtual reality therapies used to treat other forms of PTSD, patients projected their own memories into the environment. One Vietnam veteran reported seeing tanks and people that were not part of the program. Courtesy of the University of Southern California’s Institute of Creative Technologies.

An insurgent in Virtual Iraq, a simulated warzone designed to help troops suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder confront and overcome the incidents that scarred them. Courtesy of the University of Southern California’s Institute of Creative Technologies.

Exposure therapy is nothing new. Let's say you have a fear of spiders. During an exposure therapy, you are gradually exposed to spiders in a non-threatening environment. The goal is to develop new associations with the object of your fear, which replace your former fear-based reactions and experiences with a more rational view.

This program goes a step further. The Air Force, Navy and Army, in conjunction with the University of Southern California and Virtually Better Inc. have created a virtual world in which service members can actually relive traumatic experiences and confront the related memories in a safe environment.

With Virtual Iraq, a troop is back driving a Humvee down an Iraqi highway, or exploring a city on foot patrols, [Dr. Beth Davis, a deployment behavioral health psychologist at Andrews Air Force Base] said. Ambient sound recordings including prayer calls, gunfire, men yelling and taunting, can be varied in intensity by the therapist.

The smell of fire, diesel, cordite, body odor and burning rubber are also used to facilitate memory recall and emotional processing, Davis said.

"It allows the therapist to manipulate the situations to best suit the individual in a standard therapy hour," she said. "We can re-create this scenario in an environment that is safe."

A local child waves to the convoy in Virtual Iraq. Courtesy of the University of Southern California’s Institute of Creative Technologies.

"Once their fear has decreased enough that they can really look at the situation and what happened and what they did, more than likely they will come to think about it differently, and realize, for example, it wasn’t their fault, or there was nothing they could have done differently, or they did the best they could under the circumstances," says Dr. Barbara Rothbaum. Rothbaum is a psychologist and director of Atlanta’s Emory University’s Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program, a pioneer of virtual reality therapy, and a co-founder of Virtually Better, Inc.

An airman tries out the Virtual Iraq program at a Virtually Better training site. Courtesy of Virtually Better Inc.

There are currently about 40 Virtual Iraq systems in Defense Department and Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics. The Air Force has eight Virtual Iraq systems at base clinics in the US and is setting up another at Ramstein Air Base in Germany this fall. Some of the Air Force-run clinics' scenarios are specialized for Airmens' deployment experiences, but since about a third of the patients are Army other scenarios are available. A Virtual Afghanistan is also in the works.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is among the most common diagnoses made by the Veterans Health Administration. Many service members are reluctant admit they are having problems and to seek treatment. The wide and ready availability of this technology to both veterans and active duty troops is an important development in the treatment of non-physical combat injuries.

See the whole article at Stars & Stripes.

28 June 2009

Remembering Operation Redwing

SEAL Team:

Lt. Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, New York
STG2 Matthew Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, CA
GM2 Danny Dietz 26, of Littleton, Colorado


Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare, 29, of Danville, Ohio
Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, 35, of Clarks Grove, Minnesota.
Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby, 21, of Pompano Beach, Florida
Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles, 33, of Shelbyville, Indiana
Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III, 36, of Franklin, Tennessee
Maj. Stephen C. Reich, 34, of Washington Depot, Connecticut.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell, 31, of Stafford, Virginia
Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach, 40, of Jacksonville, Florida


FCC Jacques J. Fontan, 36, of New Orleans, Louisiana
ITCS Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, New Hampshire
Lt. Cmdr. Erik S. Kristensen, 33, of San Diego, California
ET1 Jeffery A. Lucas, 33, of Corbett, Oregon
Lt. Michael M. McGreevy, Jr., 30, of Portville, New York
QM2 James E. Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Florida
HM1 Jeffrey S. Taylor, 30, of Midway, West Virginia
MM2 Shane E. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nevada

Killed in action Kunar Province, Afghanistan June 28, 2005.
We will love you and miss you always.

The Lone Survivor:

PO2, later SO1 Marcus Luttrell
God bless you, Marcus.

27 June 2009

Search and Rescue Jump

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (June 23, 2009) Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Paul Sanchez, assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Weapons School U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Mayport, performs a search and rescue jump from an SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter into the St. Johns River during the annual SAR deployment procedures re-qualification . U.S. Navy photo by Naval Aircrewman Airman Scott Beach/Released.

Britains Celebrate First Armed Forces Day

The London Eye is lit up in red, white and blue to mark Armed Forces Day. Picture: Sgt Andy Malthouse, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009.

Until today, the UK didn't have a holiday like our Veteran's Day. Now, finally, they do. Thank you to all of our British brothers in arms for your service! We're proud to stand with you.

Thousands gather for first Armed Forces Day
27 Jun 09

Thousands of people across the world are paying tribute to the UK's past, present and future military personnel in the first ever Armed Forces Day, today, Saturday 27 June 2009.

Hundreds of events are taking place in many different communities around the world from London to Afghanistan and Edinburgh to Gibraltar.

Almost 200 events are happening across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland alone, while military bases where UK Service personnel are deployed across the world are celebrating in their own ways.

More than 30,000 members of the public, who want to show their support for Service personnel and veterans, are expected at the main national event taking place at Chatham's Historic Dockyard in Kent.

The celebration is featuring a military parade, a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Red Arrows, as well as presentations and interactive displays from the Royal Navy, the Army, and the Royal Air Force.

A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter flies an Armed Forces Day flag over Afghanistan. Picture: Cpl Rupert Frere, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth is spending Armed Forces Day with troops in Afghanistan. He said:

"Every day the men and women of our Armed Forces are risking their lives for the defence of our country. They are the guardians of our security and our values.

"Armed Forces Day on the 27th June is an opportunity for us all to recognise their commitment, their courage, and their sacrifice. On this day there is no other place that I would rather be than here, amongst our servicemen and women on operations.

"It is also an opportunity to thank the thousands of veterans who have played so fundamental a role in protecting our country's freedom. And it is a chance to think about the families who support our brave men and women all year round.

"I sincerely hope that people across the UK will join in the events taking place today, and honour our Service personnel - past, present and future."

Service personnel parade for Armed Forces Day. Picture: PA.

Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, who is attending the national event in Chatham, said:

"The many events that are taking place today and the enthusiasm the British public has shown for Armed Forces Day mean a great deal to those in the military family.

"It is important for them to know that the Armed Forces are at the heart of national life, and that they enjoy the respect and appreciation of the people that they serve."

Two of the most high profile Service personnel of recent years are His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales and HRH Prince Henry of Wales, who also paid tribute to the UK's Armed Forces today saying:

"Armed Forces Day is a celebration of our fighting men and women and the immeasurable contribution they make to our lives and to the reputation of this country.

"Through centuries of service to the nation, the members of our Armed Forces have established a record unequalled in the world. They work selflessly with honour and distinction, in the most challenging circumstances imaginable. As serving officers, we have the privilege of witnessing the living traditions, the courage and the professionalism at first hand.

"It is humbling for us to be associated, in a minor way, with something quite so exceptional.

"This day also recognises the wider family: the veterans, young and old; the many volunteers who support the Cadet Forces so tirelessly; and - of paramount importance and sometimes forgotten - the families and friends whose care and support enables such excellence.

"We are both so delighted to support this Armed Forces Day."

25 June 2009

At Bagram's SSG Heathe N. Craig Joint Theater Hospital

June 1, 2009 - U.S. medical personnel wait for the arrival of helicopters carrying wounded soldiers at the U.S. hospital in Bagram Air base, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AP) — The urgent call came in: Roadside bombs had ripped through two Humvees and wounded eight or nine U.S. soldiers.

Medevac helicopters immediately hit the air to ferry the soldiers to the main U.S. military hospital. But when they arrived, they carried only five patients. ...

It started when two roadside bombs hit the same convoy of 10th Mountain Division soldiers only a couple of miles apart in Wardak, a province west of Kabul. The damage was so severe that one of the Humvees split in half.

By the time the helicopters arrived, four men were already dead. Their comrades loaded them into body bags, tense with anger and grief. ...

As the medics worked, with the American flag in the background, they sweated. The heat was turned up because critically injured patients cannot regulate their own body temperatures.

A soldier screamed, so loudly that emergency room physician Capt. Travis Taylor couldn't tune it out. The soldier, who had an open fracture, had just learned one of his buddies was killed.

"That one was tough," Taylor said. "He was really screaming, and it snapped me out of my focus on the patient I was with."

June 1, 2009 - A fellow soldier holds the hand of U.S. Pfc. Anthony Vandegrift, of Mililani, Hawaii, as he informs him the names of three of their comrades that were killed in the attack that injured him at the U.S. hospital in Bagram Air base, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. Vandegrift, of Bravo Company 287, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, was wounded and three of his comrades died when the vehicle they were driving was hit by a roadside bomb in the Nerkh district of Wardak province. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Another soldier, Pfc. Anthony Vandegrift, had broken both legs. His left eye was swollen shut. The two soldiers in the front of his Humvee were killed, along with the gunner who had been standing halfway out the top.

He called his father while still on the emergency room table.

"I said, 'Hey dad, remember how you told me not to join the infantry? Well, I don't regret it, but I got blown up,'" Vandegrift, of Mililani, Hawaii, said.

Doctors at Bagram say there is nowhere in the world — except other war zones — where physicians face such severe wounds day after day. That constant stream takes a toll. ...

[Air Force Capt. Shannan] Corbin says home bases try to prepare the medical staff "mentally, emotionally and spiritually" for the deployment, but she's not sure it works.

"You can see pictures. You can hear people talk, but I don't know that anything really prepares you," said the 39-year-old nurse from Biloxi, Miss. "We hope emotionally and mentally that it's just another string of events. But I don't know how we can walk away from this as just another string of events."

June 2, 2009 - U.S. Pfc. Anthony Vandegrift, of Mililani, Hawai, plays the guitar for a wounded comrade at the U.S. hospital in Bagram Air base, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. Vandegrift, of Bravo Company 287, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, was wounded and three of his comrades died when the vehicle they were driving was hit by roadside bomb in the Nerkh district of Wardak province. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

In the intensive care ward nearby, Vandegrift lay beside the one other soldier in his Humvee who survived. The soldier may be paralyzed.

Holding a guitar, Vandegrift strummed a song for his friend: "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The four Soldiers who were killed in the line of duty on June 1, 2009 in Nerkh, Afghanistan were: SSG Jeffrey A. Hall, SGT Jasper K. Obakrairur, PFC Matthew D. Ogden, and PFC Matthew W. Wilson, all of the 2nd BN, 87th Infantry Reg, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

SSG Heathe N. Craig, for whom the hospital is named, was a member of the 159th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) based in Wiesbaden, Germany. He died the night of June 21, 2006 during a rescue mission near Naray, Afghanistan.

Here's the accompaying video to this story. You'll want to take the graphic content warning seriously if you are unaccustomed to seeing trauma care images such as open wounds.

Landstuhl hospital to move to Ramstein?

DOD mulls moving Landstuhl hospital to Ramstein
By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, June 25, 2009

Last August, Landstuhl received approval for a $400 million project that, among other upgrades, would add a five-story inpatient tower to the existing hospital. Construction on the new tower is slated to begin in 2010 or 2011. But with the new study ongoing, that project now is in limbo.

"They’re looking at 20-, 25-, 30-, 40-year projections of what [U.S. Army Europe] and this whole area’s going to look like, where are we going to get cost benefits and all the rest of that stuff," said Army Col. Brian Lein, Landstuhl commander. "It’s not just the hospital we’re talking about. It’s the USO, the [medical transient detachment], the barracks and the Fisher houses. You can’t just move the hospital. You’d have to take everything from here and then move it to some place over on Ramstein."

Landstuhl officials learned in late April of the DOD study, Lein said.

The hospital is the first stop for all wounded U.S. troops coming from Iraq and Afghanistan. Military aircraft carrying wounded troops from downrange land at Ramstein, and the troops are taken by bus for the 15-minute trip to Landstuhl.

Since 2004, the hospital has treated 54,736 patients from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

With construction set to begin as early as next year at Landstuhl, a recommendation from the DOD study would likely be issued this year, but Lein said he was unsure when the recommendation would be made. ...

The Landstuhl hospital opened in 1953. While renovations have occurred, much of the current structure dates back to the early 1950s.

The facility operates as an Army hospital, however all branches of the military work there, including sizable Air Force and Navy contingents. The total staff is about 2,800.

The hospital will remain an Army facility regardless of where it’s located, Lein said.

Wounded Combat Veterans Return to Iraq

Retired Staff Sgt. Bradley K. Gruetzner, Palestine, Texas, explains his prosthetic arm to service members at Al-Faw Palace, Camp Victory, Baghdad, June 21. Greutzner was injured May 26, 2007 by an improvised explosive device while traveling in a convoy 15 miles north of Baghdad. Photo by Sgt. Kathleen Briere, Multi-National Corps - Iraq.

MNF-I Command Sgt. Major Lawrence Wilson (left) introduces members of Operation Proper Exit to hundreds of service members at Al Faw Palace. The six soldiers returned to Iraq to visit forward operating bases to witness the changes that have taken place due to their sacrifices. They are part of a pilot program, "Operation Proper Exit," run by Troop's First Foundation, an organization sponsored by the United Service Organization. The wounded warriors are (L to R): Staff Sgt. Kenneth Butler, Sgt. Robert Brown, Sgt. Christopher Burrell, Sgt. (Ret.) Marco Robledo, Sgt. Brandon Deaton and Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Bradley Gruetzner.

via GEN Ray Odierno's FaceBook page.

Of leadership, challenges, and being human in a war zone

One of the best profiles I've seen of our young military leadership and the challenges they face in Afghanistan.

A personal touch in Taliban fight
By Greg Jaffe

KONAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — The father arrived at the gate of Capt. Michael Harrison’s base earlier this month cradling the limp body of his 9-year-old daughter.

A few minutes earlier, the little girl had been playing with her cousin by the rutted main road that runs through Harrison’s sector. A Taliban bomb intended for an Afghan army convoy had exploded. It missed the convoy and instead struck the girl, known by the single name of Akhtarbabi.

Her face was blackened from the blast. A piece of charred shrapnel was lodged in her temple. Harrison ordered two of his medics to take the girl’s cousin, who was bloody but still conscious, to the base’s aid station, a plywood shack about the size of a toolshed. Other medics set Akhtarbabi on a cot in a dark concrete bunker just outside the aid station. “She’s dead,” Sgt Ed Welch, the chief medic, whispered to Harrison.

It was up to Harrison, a 27-year-old company commander who oversees US military operations in a sprawling, isolated and violent swath of Afghanistan near the Pakistani border, to figure out how to take advantage of the opening the Taliban had given him. The question consumed and frustrated the Virginia native for most of June.

Harrison faces two enemies in Afghanistan. The most obvious is the Taliban, whose fighters lurk in the mountains along the border. The other is the overwhelming frustration that Afghans feel toward US forces. Eight years of airstrikes, civilian casualties and humiliating house-to-house searches have left the Afghan people deeply suspicious of the US troops who are supposed to be protecting them.

As Harrison’s medics hovered over the girl’s body, her cabdriver father, Jonagha, squatted on the ground outside the aid station. A summer thunderstorm swept over the base. The father placed his face in his hands and prayed as the rain drenched his bloodstained tunic.

Harrison and his interpreter knelt beside Jonagha. The American captain draped an arm around the man’s shoulders, leaned in close and delivered the news that his daughter was dead. The man sat frozen, his face still resting in his palms and the rain pelting his back.

“I am very sorry for your loss,” Harrison said. ...

It's worth your time to read the whole thing. Makes you sad and proud at the same time.

23 June 2009

Helmand Firefight

Found link to this AP footage of Marines fighting in Southern Afghanistan at Bouhammer's. As he says, "Professionals all the way through, not freaking out, not going crazy. Very disciplined and engaging targets with ease."

That buzzing sound at around the 1:4o mark sounds like the 30mm gatling gun of an A-10. The guys on the ground must love that sound.

Fly into Afghanistan with the Horse Soldiers

I've mentioned this book before. Now, thanks to some riveting video storytelling from Greyhawk, you can fly along with the first group of Special Forces Troops as they secretly enter Afghanistan in 2001... they are Doug Stanton's Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan.

US Navy Corpsmen: 111 years of saving lives

Col. David Fuquea, chief of staff, 2nd Marine Division, praises and thanks corpsmen during the 111th U.S. Navy Hospital Corps Birthday celebration, June 17. "Marines are able to charge into combat because we know that corpsmen will run in after us," said Fuquea. Photo: Lance Cpl. James W. Clark.

And here's a video story from Seaman Lauryn Cooper, AFN Europe.

22 June 2009

Happy 5th Alive Day, Chuck!

Five years ago yesterday, (then Captain, now Major) Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss was nearly killed by an IED while serving in Iraq. As you can see by that entry, Chuck had been blogging from theater before getting blown up and his amazing wife Carren posted the news to his readers.

Early in his recovery, Carren kept everyone up to date. But Chuck needed to blog, and out of a laptop from Soldiers' Angels and a donation for voice-activation software from an anonymous reader, Project Valour-IT was born.

We've laughed and cried for and been inspired by this brave couple through scores of surgeries, the craziness that is Walter Reed, pain management, Valour-IT fundraisers, return to active duty and promotion (HOOAH!), and just plain daily life. Through it all, they've shown grace, compassion for others, and have never lost their sense of humor.

Please take just a moment (even if you don't know him!) and go over to Chuck's place and wish him a Happy Alive Day. Chuck, we're so thankful you're still here with us. Much love to you and Carren!

Soldiers' Angels Germany has a new shipping address!

Effective immediately, Soldiers' Angels Germany has a new shipping address. Mail will be forwarded from the old address, but to avoid delays please change your records.

Attn: Soldiers' Angels
CMR 402
APO AE 09180

- Check our list of requested items for current needs before purchasing and shipping donations.
- Notify us when items are shipped.
- Include a note with your name, Email address, and short description of items sent in your packages. Without this information, we regret will be unable to confirm their receipt.
- Please allow 6-8 weeks for receipt confirmation via email.

Thank you for your support of our wounded and ill warriors.

Groton Woman's Club marks 100th Quilt made for Landstuhl patients

(click photo for larger view)

Thank You for Your Service to Our Country

God Bless America
God Bless You

Groton Woman's Club / Groton, MA

The Groton Woman's Club recently celebrated 95 years (!!) of continuous service to their community. Every five years they put together a play about the club's activities, and I was very touched and honored to learn from our POC Susan Slade that the Blankets of Hope project for Landstuhl hospital was part of this year's play.

And in another exciting milestone, the shipment of quilts pictured in the photo above contain the 100th quilt made with love and hope for our wounded warriors.

The club's motto is "Service" and it's mission is to provide an opportunity for
women who live or work in Groton to join together in service to the community. Projects include initiating the Avenue of Flags in the Town Center, beautification of the park area near Town Hall, providing monthly lunches at the Senior Center, student scholarships, and much more.

Congratulations on your many years of service and thank you to the Groton Woman's Club for your support!!

First female Shura in Wardak

Women from Jalrez District attending an all-female shura with representatives from Wardak Provincial Office of Women's Affairs and Coalition forces June 17. CJSOTF-A courtesy photo.

Jalrez district conducts first all-female shura
By US Forces Afghanistan Public Affairs Office

KABUL, Afghanistan - The Wardak Provincial Office of Women's Affairs assisted by the Afghan Public Protection Force held the first all-female shura in Jalrez district, Wardak province, June 17.

More than 150 women attended the event, where a variety of issues were discussed, including security, quality of life, religious concerns and civil liberties.

The Afghan Public Protection Program was commended by the group as the primary reason for improved security in Jalrez district, and the increased security provided by this force enabled the shura to occur.

The ever-improving security situation encouraged all participants to request additional all-female shuras to occur in other areas of Jalrez district.

The Afghan Public Protection Force provided security and conducted a humanitarian assistance distribution following the events. More than 100 pairs of shoes, 100 sets of women's and children's clothing and 100 soccer balls were distributed. Additionally, key female communicators attending the event received radios and Afghanistan flags.

It may not sound earth-shattering to us, but this is very important news. For centuries women have generally never been permitted to attend shuras, which are meetings of community elders like our town councils. And in areas under Taliban influence, women not wearing burkas and girls attending school are subject to gruesomely violent intimidation tactics.

Obviously, this is a victory for the women. But it's also a victory for U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in the province: The article gives credit to the Afghan Public Protection Program, which was created and mentored by U.S. forces. The concept is to give locals a hand up in creating the forms of civil governance we take for granted but are essential for a functioning society.

19 June 2009

A slice of home

This just in from one of SA's adopted soldiers.

A Letter of Thanks to All of You Who Have "Adopted" A Soldier

I am a soldier deployed to central Afghanistan and I wanted to tell you how very much your support means to all of us fighting over here. I know that you write out of the goodness of your heart, many of you writing countless letters, which often go unanswered. You write and mail packages and pray for these fine young soldiers, the best our country has to offer, often in harm's way each and every day. I know that it might get a bit discouraging sometimes, sending letters and emails and packages into the "big black hole of Afghanistan and Iraq" and you must wonder sometimes if you are making a difference. Well that is why I am writing this...to tell you that you are!

Our soldiers... most importantly, YOUR soldiers, are doing unbelievably stressful and dangerous work. The average soldier in my Brigade lives and works out of a remote Combat Outpost. This can sometimes mean sleeping in the dirt, sleeping when they can in between incoming rocket and mortar attacks. They normally go weeks without a shower (thank goodness for baby wipes!), eat cold chow, with few phones or Internet being available. We are in the midst of the "summer fighting season" which means that we are engaged in numerous firefights and IED strikes every single day.

When you go "outside" the wire you are always tense and high-strung, searching for that command wire of an IED, meeting village elders as you immerse yourself in a totally foreign culture that you neither fully understand or are part of, and are often viewed with deep suspicion and frowns. There are indeed rewarding moments where you smile; children in particular have the unique ability to bring a smile to the face of the gruffest soldier, but you never let down your guard. When your armored security vehicle rolls back through the relative safety of the gate after days on patrol where you perhaps carried a 100 pound pack on a mountain at 10,000 feet it is sometimes all you can do to stumble to your sleeping bag for some much-needed rest.

So where do you come in? You, quite simply, are there to greet us with love and support when we stumble back through the gate.

Mail has always been cherished by soldiers in a war zone for as long as there has been the written word. It's hard to describe what it's like when those magical words of, "hey, the mail is in!" is excitedly passed from soldier to soldier. The atmosphere instantly lightens and smiles appear on the tired faces of soldiers who look 10 years older than their age. The closest I can describe it as is that it's akin to Christmas morning. The toughest soldier takes his box or letter from a loved one or a Soldiers' Angel and does his best not to grin like a 10-year-old getting that new bike from Santa, retreating to someplace quiet to open his mail.

That's an unspoken rule for soldiers.... unless 10,000 Taliban are about to storm the gates or a nuclear bomb is about to vaporize the entire countryside, you DON'T disturb a soldier when he or she is opening up their mail! It may be behind the guard tower or in their sleeping bag by the light of a red-lens flashlight, but a soldier opening his mail is a very intimate and private moment, one to be cherished.

What do you all bring to us over here? A slice of home. You may think that you don't have much to offer in your letters that often go unanswered. You may feel you are rambling on about the weather or about how you find cemeteries a peaceful place or who just won "American Idol." But to a soldier in a combat zone? That is life. That is normalcy. That is what we have to look forward to when our duty here is done. When you write these letters, even though they may go unanswered, you need to know that every letter that you seal and put into the mailbox will cause a tremendous smile on the other end.

On behalf of all of us soldiers over here I want to thank you for what you do. With the lack of Internet access, limited time, and plain old exhaustion, most of your letters and emails often go unanswered. Please know, however, that they are deeply appreciated. You are doing your own part in all of this... you are showing your support. And that is what a soldier needs... knowing that he is not forgotten, that his efforts are appreciated, and that many, many people back home are thinking about and praying for them.

Thank you so very much for what you do.


We currently have over 500 deployed service members waiting for adoption. But you don't have to "adopt", you can join one of our many teams or just write a letter...

Visit the SA website for information.

Update: Oh, will be posting some pics from Steve soon... of the Afghan kids and others for whom you have sent clothing, school supplies, etc.

Another Wanat Warrior receives Silver Star

Staff Sgt. Sean Samaroo, 4th Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, was awarded a Silver Star for his actions during the Battle of Wanat in Afghanistan. The Silver Star, the third highest military decoration, is awarded for gallantry in action, performed with marked distinction. Photo: Susanne Kappler, Fort Jackson Leader.

Another paratrooper of the Chosen Few, 2-503rd, 173rd ABCT has received a Silver Star for his actions during the Battle of Wanat in Afghanistan last year. Samaroo was one of the many soldiers medevaced to Landstuhl after being wounded in the battle. More (and better) photos at the link where you can see how great he looks!

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Staff Sgt. Sean Samaroo, 4th Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, was awarded the Silver Star for his actions in Afghanistan in a ceremony June 11.

The ceremony took place at the newly designated Wanat Range, formerly known as Camden Range.

Samaroo received the award, the nation's third highest military decoration, for his part in the Battle of Wanat, which took place 2008 in the eastern province of Nuristan, Afghanistan. Samaroo is also a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient.

"There were a lot of heroes out there," Samaroo said. "Some maybe didn't get recognized as much as me. I'm pretty thankful and honored."

On the morning of July 13, 14 months into Samaroo's deployment, an estimated 200 enemy fighters launched a coordinated assault on a small vehicle patrol base manned by approximately 50 American and coalition troops.

As the battle began, Samaroo - then with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade - and his squad were manning a traffic control point near the base. Samaroo's squad successfully defended the traffic control point before reinforcing an observation point, which was under threat to be overrun by the attackers.

On his way to the observation point - an uphill climb through exposed terrain - Samaroo encountered three wounded Soldiers, whom he and his squad brought to safety.

Samaroo himself was wounded by shrapnel and was bleeding from the head and legs, but refused to leave his position until reinforcements arrived.

Nine American Soldiers were killed in the attack; 27 Americans and four Afghan soldiers were wounded.

Samaroo credited his training and instinct with helping him through the situation.

"There was a time that I did not want to go up that hill," he admitted. "I thought that it was too early. There's such a thing as tactical patience. You have to let the battle evolve.

Because of that, I believe we saved a (few) more lives that way."

After he was wounded, Samaroo said goodbye to his wife and son aloud, according to a first-person account read during the ceremony by Lt. Col. Richard McDermott, 4th Bn., 10th Inf. Reg., commander.

"That's when I said, 'Man, this is it. You're gone,'" Samaroo said. "I really thought I was, but I just clicked like that and started focusing back on what I had to do."

Samaroo admitted that the incident changed his life.

"Any time you have a near-death experience ... it changes you. It does. You think about the small things in life," he said.

Samaroo, who has been in the Army for nine years, came to Fort Jackson in January as a cadre instructor at Camden Range. The range, which has been undergoing extensive upgrades, was renamed "Wanat Mounted Convoy Live Fire Range" in honor of the Soldiers who died during the Battle of Wanat.

Brig. Gen. Bradley May, Fort Jackson commanding general, called the renaming a fitting tribute as the range will be used to train "skills that will allow (Soldiers) to thrive in combat, just as Staff Sgt. Samaroo did."

Samaroo said he hopes to pass on those skills and ultimately intends to become a drill sergeant.

"That's always been a dream of mine, being a drill sergeant," he said. "I want to be able to share what I learned as a combat Soldier."

To the nine Heroes of that day, rest in peace. We will love and remember you always.

Wounded commander takes over Warrior Transition Battalion

Maj. Gen. Patricia Horoho and Lt. Col. Danny Dudek walk past soldiers from the Warrior Transition Battalion during the Pass in Review portion of a ceremony Wednesday in which Dudek assumed command of the battalion at Fort Lewis. Photo: Joe Barrentine / THE NEWS TRIBUNE.

“Taking an artillery battalion into Iraq would be easier than doing what I’m going to have to do with the Warrior Transition Battalion. That’s how complex, how important it is. But that’s where my passion lies.

- LTC Danny Dudek

Leading by example.

Lt. Col. Danny Dudek paced the dew-covered grass of Fort Lewis’ Watkins Field, inspecting his troops during a ceremony marking a change of command for his unit.

The sight of an officer marching past with the aid of hand crutches was not lost on the hundreds of wounded and injured soldiers of the Warrior Transition Battalion whom Dudek now commands.

“The Army has to make a deliberate decision to let a paralyzed lieutenant colonel command a battalion,” the 40-year-old said. “That doesn’t happen often.”

Dudek, previously the battalion’s executive officer, took command from Lt. Col. K.C. Bolton on Wednesday morning. Dudek now is responsible for about 600 soldiers with long-term or complex medical issues, one of 39 such units across the military.

Dudek, whose feet are paralyzed, has been with the unit almost two years. He was serving in Iraq with Fort Lewis’ 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division when an explosively formed penetrator, a particularly lethal form of a roadside bomb, detonated under his Stryker vehicle near Husseiniyah on July 19, 2007.

Cpl. Brandon M. Craig, a 25-year-old Maryland resident, was killed almost instantly.

“Danny was hurt very badly from that attack, but nothing was going to keep him down,” said Lt. Col. John Steele, the former 4th Brigade deputy commander who’s now in the same position for the 191st Infantry Brigade. “He kept asking, ‘How are the soldiers? Are they OK?’ I never once heard him say anything about himself.”

His subsequent journey through the Army medical system gives him a clear insight into what can be improved, said Maj. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, the commander of Madigan Army Medical Center.

“Danny brings to his position a special uniqueness of first-hand experience of what it’s like to walk in the boots of the very soldiers he is now charged with caring for,” Horoho said.

“I keep hearing that I inspire people,” said Dudek. “But I’m just trying to get through the day.”

The rest of the story is here.

18 June 2009

A couple of votes, please

I know these can get annoying, but contests like this are an incredibly easy and FREE way to help deserving organizations and individuals receive cash, services, or just plain old well-deserved recognition.

First up, vote at CommuniCause.com to help Soldiers' Angels receive a social media "makeover".

Next, we'd like to recognize Sheryl Walker as Dickies American Worker of the Year.

- Please go to the Dickies Work Gear site (Sheryl spends an awful lot of time in their boots and coveralls) at www.workeroftheyear.com

- Then click on the "worker gallery" up top.

- Enter "Sheryl" in the search box to find her.

- Click on Vote!

Some of you may know Sheryl as the Leader of SA's Development Team, where she works tirelessly to obtain grants for the organization. This from her daughter, who nominated her:

What many of you don't know is my mom took that job down at the refinery after she and my dad divorced when me and Dean were just 2 and 3. She wanted a job that paid well and took care of us. She worked nights and managed to be at every one of our school events, little league games and scout meetings. She wears a hard hat, coveralls and swings a mean pipe wrench doing 12-hour shifts. She is on the fire brigade, HAZMAT, confined space rescue teams. She is the only female production in the production area and shares the department bathroom with 32 guys. She deserves an award for that alone.

Now my brother Dean is in the Navy and I am out of college and on my own. Mom could be kicking back and relaxing but instead she works three 12-hour shifts a week and then uses the extra days off to put in another full 40-plus hours a week for Soldiers' Angels. Her work isn't always fun. Many times when I go over there she has a ponytail stuck full of pencils and is cussing (she's little rough from the refinery but cleans up well.... just kidding mom) as she sorts through a pile of grant applications and report forms but she never quits. When she's not raising money, she's taking vets fishing at the family camper down at the lake or working on some other project for her heroes in the sandbox.

My mother has always felt that everything she has is because someone past, present or future fought for her right to have it. She works hard both at her real job and her volunteer work. She is truly one of the best examples of a proud American. I can tell you this right now, if my mom wins the most exciting thing for her will be giving the prizes away to her heroes, she won't keep them for herself. Please help me show my mom that she is the American Worker of the Year.

You can only vote once per email address but at the end of the week the vote resets for a new round and you can vote for the next week's winner. Please tell your friends and families to help. Me and my brother Dean truly thank you for your help in showing mom what an amazing lady we think she is.

Thanks for your support, and pass it on!

16 June 2009

A son of Palau honored

U.S. honor guards carry the coffin of Sgt. Jasper Obakrairur during a funeral at the Palau Capitol building. Photo: Itsuo Inouye / Associated Press.

Many say their patriotism is inspired by the U.S. servicemen who fought and died here during World War II. Others maintain it is the potential of US citizenship, which may be another way of saying the same thing. Whatever the reason, hundreds of young citizens of far-flung Pacific islands such as Guam, the Northern Marianas, Micronesia and Palau have joined the U.S. military in recent years. Since 2003, 32 men and women have been killed in the line of duty - a staggering fatality rate given their small populations.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Donald J. Goldhorn, who spoke at the service, said before the ceremony that many small islands in the region had suffered high losses.

"But it will not deter people from this incredibly patriotic part of the world," he said. "These soldiers are not only dying for our nation, but for others as we fight the spread of terrorism."

Raphael Ngirmang, a stocky, white-haired Marine Corps veteran who is now one of Palau's top two tribal chiefs, said Palau owes a debt to the U.S.

"We're out here on an island in the middle of nowhere," said Ngirmang, a 27-year veteran who served in Vietnam. "The U.S. is responsible for our national defense. So we reciprocate. We may be a small island, but we've got a big heart."

Sgt. Jasper Obakrairur, known as Jazz by island friends, and as Sgt. OB by fellow soldiers, was killed by an IED in Nerkh, Afghanistan on June 1 while serving with the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.
Today, 250 residents crowded into the government complex for the military funeral. They held their hands over their hearts when the Palauan and U.S. national anthems were performed.

His voice breaking, [Palau's President Johnson] Toribiong addressed Obakrairur's parents and sister: "To say thank you is not enough. But we sincerely appreciate your giving up a son, a Palauan son."

Then the motorcade of 100 cars drove slowly through mangrove jungle to bury Obakrairur in his native village as the hamlet's 87-year-old chief paid his last respects to a soldier who died in a modern war.

The night before, islanders lined a darkened harbor causeway, lighting candles and waving American and Palauan flags.

They watched for the U.S. military plane to arrive with Obakrairur's remains, waiting for their boy to come home.

Read the rest of the article An American flag on the casket, a son of Palau inside.

Then and now: Army Captain continues career 20 years after retirement

Army Capt. Samuel Carlson, left, and Army Maj. Ryan O'Connor, then assigned to Combined Joint Task Force 101, pose at Bagram Airfield in 2005 during Carlson's first tour to Afghanistan. Photo: Amber Robinson.

From a friend currently serving with Captain Carlson who sent me the link:

This guy was serving on active duty before almost everyone over here was even born and he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the 1990s!!! He retired from the National Guard and when he came back on active duty his rank was Captain. It feels very odd to have this 60 year old Grandpa calling me Sir and saluting. He's very sweet and everyone teases him about his nickname of "OCITA" which means, "Oldest Captain in the Army."

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, Afghanistan - The average Army career, if a Soldier chooses to make a life of the service, is a little more than 20 years. But for one jovial 62-year old Army captain, 20 years hardly seemed like enough.

Capt. Samuel Carlson, an intelligence officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Task Force Spartan, is on his second voluntary tour to Afghanistan. For a Soldier to volunteer to come to a combat zone twice is one thing; but to voluntarily deploy after being retired for more than 20 years is quite another.

Carlson came into the Army on May 9, 1967 as an infantryman and later transitioned to intelligence operations. He served in various conflicts until he officially retired on Oct. 1, 1987.

Samuel Carlson, now an Army captain, receives his commission to second lieutenant at Daley Barracks, Bad Kissingen, Germany, in front of the unit's Sherman Tank memorial. Carlson was 31 when he received his commission. Photo: Amber Robinson.

In 1991, Carlson volunteered to return and serve in Operation Desert Storm. Although his mission to Kuwait was cancelled due to the short duration of the fight, he chose to stay on active status.

Carlson served with the Texas National Guard from 1992 to 1995, working as the executive officer of the 502nd Military Police Battalion out of Fort Worth, Texas. He commanded the unit after it reorganized until his second retirement. He volunteered to come into the service again after the attacks of 9/11.

"That [ticked] me off," Carlson said. "I took that personally. I had family that worked in the World Trade Center, so that made it personal."

Carlson served with the 308th Military Intelligence Battalion, 902nd Military Intelligence Group, on his first tour in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2006. He returned to the United States for a short period before serving with Task Force Spartan with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan's Logar province this time around.

Carlson's love of the service is based on simple principles, he said, but it keeps him going.

"I missed Soldiers," Carlson said. "In the civilian world, it's hard to find the same camaraderie, teamwork and sense of brotherhood that you find in the Army."

Carlson's conventional military career spanned the globe. He served in El Salvador, Honduras, Germany, South Korea and a short stint in Vietnam.

Carlson's grandfather served in WWI and his father in WWII and Korea. His son will be deploying to Afghanistan soon, and to top it all off, his grandson is currently stationed in Korea.

The "Oldest Captain in the Army" plans to retire for the third and final time when Task Force Spartan completes its deployment at the end of the year, but with this guy, who knows?

Sheesh. Read the whole thing.

Update, Dec 2009: In the comments Sam "OCITA" Carlson writes to say that his son 1SG Carlson arrived in Afghanistan in July shortly after this post was written. His grandson David will deploy to Afghanistan from Korea soon, but probably after Sam returns with TF Spartan to Fort Drum.

Gee, Sam, if you could stay a little longer you guys could have a family reunion in Afghanistan. Sheesh, again!

MEPS ceremony room named for fallen paratrooper

Bill and Suzane Ayers pull back the cover blanketing the shadow box honoring their son, Cpl. Jonathan Ayers, May 20 during a dedication ceremony held at the Atlanta Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) on Fort Gillem. The Atlanta MEPS dedicated the room used to swear in new applicants to Ayres May 20 to honor his sacrifice. In addition to the shadow box, the room’s main door is adorned with a plaque bearing Ayers’ name. Photo: Kevin Stabinsky.

The legacy of Cpl. Jonathan Ayers will live on with military recruits taking the oath of enlistment at the Atlanta Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) on Fort Gillem in the ceremony room which now bears his name.

Ayers took his own oath in this very room in April 2006, and served in Afghanistan with the "Chosen Few" of 2-503, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team during 2007/2008. On July 13, 2008, Ayers was killed in the battle of Wanat along with eight of his brothers.

Witnesses describe Ayers’ actions like something out of a Hollywood movie. Taking withering RPG and small arms fire on his position, Ayers stood his ground and stayed on his M-240 Bravo heavy machine gun until he was killed.

"It was some of the bravest stuff I’ve ever seen in my life, and I will never see it again because those guys... well, normal humans wouldn’t do that. You’re not supposed to do that — getting up and firing back when everything around you is popping and whizzing and trees, branches coming down and sandbags exploding and RPGs coming in over your head... "
- SPC Tyler Stafford, survivor of the Battle of Wanat

Cpl. Ayers was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the third highest military honor for valor, for his actions during that battle.

Col. Barrye Price, commander of the Eastern Sector of the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command, enlists three recruits May 20 into the Army in the Cpl. Jonathan Ayers Ceremony Room at the MEPS. Ayers, a Silver Star recipient, enlisted at the same MEPS in April 2006. Photo: Kevin Stabinsky.

With Bill and Suzane Ayers still present, three new recruits were sworn in immediately after the dedication ceremony. By having recruits enlist in a room bearing his son’s name, Bill said he hopes those enlisting gain a deeper appreciation for what they are doing and the sacrifices they are making.

Thanks to JarHeadDad for sending the story.

14 June 2009

Flag Day 2009

She's a grand old flag, she's a high-flyin' flag!

Harvard professor serves in Afghanistan

Here's a nice story for the Army's birthday: A Harvard professor who is serving his second deployment in Afghanistan.

Major Kit Parker had been thinking about getting out of the US Army Reserve after many years, but then the attacks of September 11 happened.

As smoke and ashes rose from the ruins of the World Trade Center buildings in New York, Parker put aside his love for biomedical engineering and applied physics for a gun and uniform. About the same time, Harvard offered him a job as professor.

"That was an interesting day," Parker says with a hearty laugh. "I had to go and tell my dean, 'I know I am supposed to start the position but can you wait a year while I go and fight?'"

For Venkatesh Naryanamurti, then the dean of Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, that was a unique moment. No other professor in his faculty had ever asked for leave to go and fight a war.

Parker deployed with the 82nd Airborne into southern Afghanistan. After almost being blown up by an IED, he became interested in traumatic brain injury.

While visiting a friend who had lost his arm at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he saw the neurological unit.

"You need to walk past there only once to realize that you got to do something if you can," Parker says. "I could not stand by."

So on top of dealing with cardiac tissue engineering and some nanotechnology, his team at the lab started looking into the molecular mechanisms of traumatic brain injury — what happens when blast waves penetrate the skull and go to the brain. An agency called the Defense Advance Research Project Agency funded the research. His war had found the way into his lab.

He rented an apartment 150 yards away from his lab and worked from 5 a.m. until midnight.

Now back in Afghanistan with the 3rd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, Parker - ever the professor - dreams of ways to turn the counterinsurgency fight into a science. Great story, definately worth a read.

Happy Birthday, US Army

10 June 2009

Insurgent tactics: Population intimidation

From one of the medics SA supports in Afghanistan. Many of the patients our medics treat are local children.

"Please, thank [the members of Soldiers' Angels], but I would not like to start collecting toys, in fear that someone will try to "sneak" one to a child... "

Why is this medic worried about giving Afghan children toys? Find out here.

Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund celebrates 5th anniversary

Shamelessly stolen from my friend SemperFi Wife.

May marked the 5th anniversary of the creation of the Injured Marine Semper Fi fund. Five years of supporting Marines, Sailors and their families as they go through recovery and rehabilitation. I've been a volunteer with the fund since June of 2006 and wrote this post awhile back.

In those five years, this is what the fund has accomplished.....

From the May Newsletter:
1. 13,500 grants issued, totaling more than $29 million.
2. 3,800 grants issued FY09 - to date, totaling more than $5.5 million.
3. 4,400 grants issued in FY08, totaling more than $10 million.
4. Programs, our mission averaged over 92% of total expenses.
5. More than 3000 servicemembers assisted.
6. 86% of grants were for servicemembers E-6 and below.
7. More than 100 regular volunteers across the globe.
8. IMSFF processes on average 25-30 grants each work day.

In addition to the accomplishments listed above, the fund commissioned the video "Cover Me" which talks about combat operational stress. It's a wonderful video with commentary from the Commandant, Gen. Mattis, Dr. Heidi Kraft, Sgt. Major Kent and many others. Check it out!!

Congratulations and thank you to founder Karen Guenther and all of the volunteers and supporters of this wonderful organization.

07 June 2009

President visits Landstuhl patients

Corporal Steven Baker, left, 24 years old from Corinth, Mississippi, and Sgt. Matt Berth, right, 27 years old from Rhinelander, Wisconsin, talk to the press about their impressions after the visit of US President Barack Obama in the USO warrior center in Landstuhl, Germany, Friday, June 5, 2009. Berth and Baker received the purple heart medal for getting injured in battle. (AP Photo/Roberto Pfeil)

How exciting for these guys! I bet they were thrilled.

Obama meets wounded US troops in Germany

LANDSTUHL, Germany (AP) — Last week, U.S. Army Cpl. Steven Baker was wounded while on patrol in Afghanistan's Wardak province. Friday night in Germany, President Barack Obama pinned a Purple Heart medal on his chest.

"I couldn't stop smiling," Baker said after Obama's two-hour visit at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where many soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan are taken for treatment. ...

Baker, 24, was riding as a gunner in an MRAP armored vehicle on May 30 with two other soldiers when it was hit with a roadside bomb. The Corinth, Mississippi, native was taken to a medical facility in Bagram, Afghanistan, for treatment, and then flown to Landstuhl — and learned of Obama's visit just yesterday.

"I thought they were kidding," Baker said.

He was one of six soldiers to whom Obama presented the Purple Heart in recognition of his injuries, and one of dozens the president met as he toured hospital wards and a recreation center for recovering troops.

Baker, a member of the Fort Drum, New York-based 10th Mountain Division, said he hoped to re-enlist after recovering at Landstuhl, and that he was looking forward to visiting his wife and family, first.

Sgt. Matt Berth, 26, of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, an Army engineer [with the Wisconsin Army National Guard], was recently injured in an explosion that struck his vehicle as he was driving on a highway near Kandahar. He had been at Landstuhl for a week when Obama came to give him a Purple Heart.

Members of the press never accompany DVs ("Dignified Visitors") during their visits with patients. However, reporters were given access to some of the soldiers after the President's visit, which I think is a really cool opportunity for them to share their excitement. This passage from Stars & Stripes' account of the visit was particularly poignant:

Unable to walk without crutches due to balance issues, Berth made a point of standing with assistance from Cpl. Steven Baker while Obama pinned a Purple Heart on his uniform.

“He’s my commander-in-chief and I did want to give him respect,” he said.

Just look at those smiles! When the guys are happy, I'm happy :-)

05 June 2009

D-Day: The Prayer

For more coverage of the Longest Day's 65th Anniversary, make sure to check today and tomorrow at John Donovan's, Blackfive, and the Mudville Gazette.

04 June 2009


A KC-135 Stratotanker refuels a B-2 Spirit over the Pacific Ocean near Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, May 12, 2009. More than 100 airmen and four KC-135s assigned to the 452nd Air Mobility Wing on March Air Reserve Base, Calif., arrived on Andersen at the end of April for deployment. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Bush.

Wow. That doesn't even look real. Click on the photo for full effect.

Bayer, DeCA, and AAFES team up to support Soldiers' Angels

Bayer Healthcare + Defense Commissary Agency + AAFES = Soldiers’ Angels Support

Bayer Healthcare has teamed up with the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) and the Army Air Force Exchanges (AAFES) to support Soldiers’ Angels, a volunteer-based non-profit organization that supports all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces through special projects, dedicated teams and individuals caring for our troops. Whether sending care packages, helping families at home, or assisting the wounded, Soldiers’ Angels makes a visible difference in the lives of our service members.

During the month of June, Bayer Healthcare will donate $0.05 for every $1.00 spent on participating Bayer products (Bayer Aspirin, Aleve, Alka-Seltzer, One A Day, and Citracal) to Soldiers’ Angels Adopt a Soldier program, at military commissaries and exchanges, up to a maximum of $20,000.

Bayer, DeCA and AAFES are supporting the promotion with in-store advertising and displays. Banner ads supporting the program will also be running the entire month of June on www.military.com.

Consumers will have the ability to send well wishes to the troops via www.bayercare.com. Well wishes will be compiled and sent to troops by Soldiers’ Angels starting in August.

About Bayer Consumer Care

The Consumer Care Division of Bayer HealthCare LLC, is headquartered in Morristown, N.J. Bayer’s Consumer Care Division is among the largest marketers of over-the-counter medications and nutritional supplements in the world. Some of the most trusted and recognizable brands in the world today come from the Bayer portfolio of products. These include Bayer® Aspirin, Aleve®, Alka-Seltzer Plus®, Bactine®, Citracal®, RID®, Phillips’® Milk of Magnesia, Midol®, Alka-Seltzer®, One A Day®, One A Day® Prenatal and Flintstones™ vitamins.

About the Defense Commissary Agency

The Defense Commissary Agency with headquarters at Fort Lee, Virginia, operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5–percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices—savings worth about $3,400 annually for a family of four. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America's military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Sounds like a great time to stock up on Bayer products at your local commissary or PX.