News You Can Use: Mar. 7, 2005

   March 7, 2005 Volume 3,
Issue 10

Index of Articles

Note: Topics below are now bookmarked!
Click on the underlined topic below to link to the pages on that topic.



Homeland Security Grant Adds Infrared Gear



Hawaii National
Guard Troops Come Home

Guard Unit Has
Emotional Homecoming. Troops Reunite with Families after Serving a Year in Iraq



29th Brigade Officially Begin Duties in Iraq



TRICARE Retiree Dental Program Sweetens Benefit for Members
of the National Guard Reserve



Dayton Hears Military Families’ Concerns



The War Comes
Home; They’re Back From Iraq, But Are They OK?



Healthcare Access; New
U.S. Army Program Gets Injured Soldiers Medical Help Close to Home


Military Family Relief; Tax-Form Checkoff Eyed

Wants Help Supporting The Troops

Child Care Relief Comes for Families of National Guard and
Reserve Members Serving in Global War on Terror 

Quilts to Soldiers Are Hugs from Home




National Guard Family
Program Online Communities for families and youth:



TRICARE website for information on health



Civilian Employment Information (CEI) Program Registration for
Army and Air National Guard, Air Force, and Coast Guard Reserve



Cumulative roster of all
National Guard and Reserve who are currently on active duty



Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC)
contains links and information about schooling, distance education,
scholarships, and organizations devoted to the military family is a
website that helps military children with transition and deployment
issues.  It has some great features
for kids, parents, special needs families, school educators, and more—even
safe chat rooms for kids.



Disabled Soldiers Initiative (DS3)

This website provides information on the new DS3
program.  Through DS3, the Army
provides its most severely disabled Soldiers and their families with a system
of advocacy and follow-up.



Have an article,
announcement, or website that you’d like to share with the National Guard
Family Program Community?  Send your
suggestions in an e-mail to
[email protected].


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Homeland Security Grant Adds Infrared Gear



March 1,

By Jaclyn

One of the
regional RAVEN helicopters flies Tuesday over downtown Reno. The law
enforcement helicopter unit is now using an infrared system.

Fast Fact

Reno will
serve as host of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association’s (ALEA) 35th
annual conference and expo July 20-23. The focus will be training. Officials
estimate the event’s economic impact for the community at hundreds of
thousands of dollars or more.

The police
dispatcher had just announced a suspicious vehicle was lurking in the area of
Arlington Avenue and Rosewood Drive.

Reno police
Officer Scott Sorensen — flying a helicopter as part of the Regional Aviation
Enforcement Unit (RAVEN) — directed his pilot to the area.

used a new infrared system to detect the vehicle whose hood was still hot.
The forward-looking infrared system also alerted him to three suspected
prowlers who ducked under a tree as a police cruiser drove past them.

directed the officer on the ground back to the hiding spot. The trio was

“It’s almost
like cheating,” Sorensen said of the new infrared system, acquired through a
homeland security grant exceeding $400,000. “We are truly crime fighters in
the sky.”

launched in 1997 after the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office obtained at no cost
four helicopters from the military. The new equipment includes
military-issued night vision goggles and radios.

“This lets
us do things we’ve only dreamed about doing,” said Reno police officer Scott
Armitage, a pilot assigned to RAVEN. “It really increases our ability to work
at night and respond in critical incidents.”

forward-looking infrared system has also been used to alert firefighters on
the roofs of burning homes that they were standing in dangerous areas.

Dennis Balaam said the equipment — along with global positioning systems —
increases the unit’s ability to patrol areas in the county vulnerable to
homeland security risks.

The police
helicopter helps deter crimes such as burglary, Balaam said, and suspects on
high-speed pursuits are more likely to surrender.

And with the
shine of a 30-million-candle spotlight, people engaged in fights, underage
drinkers and drag racers quickly scatter.

Lt. Gregg
Lubbe, who supervises RAVEN, explained his unit essentially multiplies the
area’s existing police force.

“With the
growth of the community, problems have spilled to the fringes of Reno,” said
Lubbe, an experienced pilot, who flies Black Hawk helicopters for the Nevada National Guard. “If we’re already up
and running, we can get there in no time.”

From where
RAVEN is stationed at the Reno Stead airport, it would take 17 minutes to
reach Incline Village and 38 minutes to Gerlach.

In 2000,
Sorensen was awarded a medal — along with pilot Deputy Darren Chrisman — for
plucking a glider pilot out of a pit of quicksand in the Winnemucca Lake bed
in Pershing County.

“When we go
into rescue mode it’s a whole different animal,” Sorensen said. “These folks
aren’t hiding, they want to be found.”

Deputy Tom
Delaney, a RAVEN pilot who also flies for the National Guard, said the night vision goggles are known to have
led to the rescue of a California man whose only light source in a dark area
was his watch light.

During the
recent heavy snowstorms, RAVEN patrolled the county and was able to spot
snow-stranded residents and get them help. “They have such an impact on the
community, and I doubt the public even knows how helpful RAVEN is,” Washoe
County Commissioner Bonnie Weber said Tuesday while visiting the RAVEN
hangar. “This community really needs this.”





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Hawaii National Guard Troops Come Home



3 March 2005

Lisa Troshinsky

They flew more
than five thousand missions in Iraq and their longest flight was the one
home. Last night nearly 200 Hawaii National
Aviators arrived back in home to a local style homecoming.

time went out the window with the crowd of anxious family and friends. Some
families were four hours early to this homecoming of Hawaii’s true warriors.

happy because he’s coming home,” said Carina Iwane who’s Dad was coming
home after a year in Iraq.

They carried
lei, and creative signs to welcome the troops home.

Chad Iwane has been missed, especially by his wife Rene.

have two daughters so at our house he is truly da man.”

Some veteran
military wives like Mrs. Kathy Sharkey admit there’s a downside to the
homecoming. “I’m gonna have to give up the tv remote and half of the bed
so it’s one of those things.”

Governor Duke Iona also joined in welcoming the troops home and thanked them
for their efforts. “Thank you for your bravery thank you for your
courage thank you for a job well done.”

At age 62
pilot Jack Sharkey is the oldest soldier to return home. Kathy Sharkey may
not mind giving up that remote after all.


thought I was going to be pretty unemotional,” Jack said. “I am
really happy to see my wife looks so good happy missed her a lot and the
whole family.”

homecoming was much different than when he returned from Vietnam.

welcome home was not at all like what I had last time I came back from a war
so it’s real nice to see this welcome for all the troops.”

The best
part of this homecoming is that none of the 180 Hawaii National Guard troops were injured during the deployment.

Now, with
the war behind them, these Hawaii warriors can focus on their families.



Guard Unit Has Emotional Homecoming. Troops
Reunite with Families after Serving a Year in Iraq

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The Daily
Star Online

7 March 2005

Patricia Breakey

Sirens filled the air as a crowd waving American flags lined Walton’s main
street Saturday to welcome soldiers from the National Guard 204th Engineer Battalion Company A home.

A state
police helicopter hovered above the three National Guard vehicles that carried the soldiers returning after
a yearlong stint in Iraq. The unit suffered no fatalities.

is small-town America at its best,” said one observer as the motorcade
passed by the throng of people dressed predominantly in red, white and blue.

proclaiming “Thank You 204th,” “Welcome Home” and
“Proud to be an American” waved in the sunshine and people carried
signs displaying the names of individual soldiers.

A dusty
green van carried the message, “Welcome home Uncle Vinny,” across
the back window.

The parade
that traveled from Robinson’s Auction Barn on West Street to the Walton
Armory on South Street included police cars representing Walton, Delhi,
Roxbury, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department, the state police and the
New York City Department of Environmental Protection Police.

Fire trucks
and ambulances from Walton, Sidney, Oxford, Oneonta, Coventry, Franklin,
Trout Creek, Sidney Center ad East Worcester rounded out the procession.

A year ago
Feb. 24, friends, family and supporters lined the streets of Walton to send
off the 204th as it was being deployed to Iraq.

Frisbee, coordinator of the Family Readiness Group, said she was grateful to
everyone who turned out to welcome Company A home.

“I was
just amazed at the number of people and all the police and fire departments
that showed up,” she said. “I was very pleased.”

Spc. Rachel
Ruggles, who was perched on the back of a Humvee as the parade wound through
the streets, said she thought the welcome home was “awesome.”

helicopter was flying so low over us we had to hold onto our hats,”
Ruggles said with a laugh.

Lana Hilton,
Sgt. Arthur Hilton’s mother, was selling blue T-shirts that had been printed
with the names of the 204th. The shirts were selling briskly, she said.

“I even
sold the one off my back,” Hilton said. “A guy wanted it so badly,
he gave me his sweatshirt to wear.”

flags and red, white and blue U.S.A. ribbons were being handed out by family
members waiting for their soldiers.

Vadalabene was waiting for her boyfriend, Sgt. Bob Vandewerker of
Richmondville. She said she enjoyed meeting the people her soldier had been
serving with in Iraq.

great being able to see him and it’s nice to meet the people he has been
talking about for the last year,” Vadalabene said.

Two carloads
of members of the Clark family from Oxford traveled to Walton to welcome home
their cousin, Woody Brown.

excited,” said Kelli Clark, 10. “I can’t wait to see him.”

Sharon and
Dave Ruggles were anxiously waiting for their cell phone to ring so they
would know how much longer it would be before the bus carrying their daughter,
Rachel, pulled into Walton.

been a rough year, very stressful,” Sharon Ruggles said. “It’s been
hard on my nerves.”

Ruggles, Rachel’s sister, said she was thrilled that Rachel was finally
coming home.

Ruggles said the family bought Wilson’s barbecued chicken before they left
Walton to head home to East Meredith. She said they ate it with her mother’s
vegetable lasagna.

“It was
so good to be home,” Rachel Ruggles said. “It’s great not to have
to worry about wearing shower shoes. It’s going to take me a while to adjust,
but I can’t wait to drive again.”

Rachel said
the chicken was “awesome” but she is still looking forward to
getting to Burger King for her favorite food, a Whopper Jr. with no tomatoes
and no onions.

husband, Spc. Michael Frisbee of Davenport Center, said it was great to be
home with his wife and children, Amber, 13, Gannon, 7, and Mara, 4.

feels great, just wonderful to be home,” Michael Frisbee said. “I
will never be able to thank everyone enough for all the support we had.”

Frisbee said when they got home, the family found that a neighbor had cooked
dinner for them and brought it to their house.

enjoyed dinner, the kids watched television and Michael watched the
kids,” she said Sunday.

Frisbee said the dinner was wonderful, but the foods he had been looking
forward to enjoying included things that weren’t available in Iraq.

don’t know how many times I heard people say they wished they had a cold
glass of fresh milk,” he said. “Cheese is a big thing. We couldn’t
get that. And simple things, like vegetables and fruits.”

Frisbee said the members of the 204th are technically still on active duty
for the next two or three weeks, so it will be a while before they return to
their jobs and settle into their former lives.

Spc. Lionel
Anderson of East Branch returned to a welcoming committee that included his
mother Natalie Anderson, his sister Isabel Hernandez, his brother-in-law Ray
Maldonado and his nephew Joseph Maldonado, 11.

excited,” Joseph said, as the time for the buses arrival neared.

Anderson said she was fixing all of her son’s favorites for dinner.

“We are
having lots of food. Everything he likes, string cheese, rice and beans,
quiche and stuffed grape leaves,” she said.

Anderson said Sunday that he ate tons and tons of food when he got home, but
he is still looking forward to having a “real New York pizza.”

He added
that he hasn’t been home for more than a year, so it felt really good to go
to sleep in a comfy bed.





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Hawaii’s 29th Brigade Officially Begin
Duties in Iraq


Associated Press

March 4,

– The Hawaii Army National Guard’s 29th Brigade Combat Team officially began
its yearlong mission in Iraq this week.

The 81st
Brigade Combat Team of Washington state formally transferred its authority to
the 3,600 Hawaii soldiers during a ceremony Thursday in Balad, near Baghdad.

soldiers of the 29th BCT have been provided a unique opportunity to write the
next chapter in the history of this war on terror,” said Brig. Gen. Joe
Chaves, commander of the 29th Brigade Combat Team.

soldiers from the 81st Brigade Combat Team were killed in the past year.

the year, the brigade has fought terrorists, former regime elements and
anyone trying to destabilize Iraq,” Brig. Gen. Oscar Hilman said.

The Hawaii
flag was raised above the brigade’s tactical operations center at Logistical
Support Area Anaconda to mark the change of command. The 15-square-mile air
base will serve as the headquarters for the citizen soldiers.

The 29th
Brigade is comprised of units from California, Oregon and Minnesota and
members of the Army Reserve’s 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, from Hawaii,
Saipan, Guam and American Samoa.





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TRICARE Retiree Dental Program Sweetens
Benefit for Members of the National Guard/ Reserve


News Release                                                                                              

Contact:  Jeff Album

March 3, 2005                                                                                                

(415) 972-8418

[email protected]                                    

TMA grants waiver of 12-month waiting period for
full scope of services

SacramentoNational Guard and Reserve personnel who elect to enroll in
the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP) within 120 days after retirement
are now eligible to skip the 12-month waiting period normally required for
certain TRDP benefits, according to Delta Dental, the program’s

Effective February 1, 2005, TMA
authorized a waiver from requiring retired National Guard/Reserve men and
women who meet the criteria to be enrolled in the TRDP for 12 months prior to
gaining the maximum allowed benefits for
cast crowns, cast restorations, bridges, dentures and orthodontics for both
adults and children.

Additionally, this new waiver will be
applied retroactively to February 1, 2004 for any Guard and Reserve enrollees
who can document their enrollment in the TRDP within 120 days after their
retirement effective date.  Delta will
process any claim adjustments resulting from this retroactive waiver, upon
notification from the enrollee and submission of the appropriate

All new enrollees seeking to obtain the
waiver should submit a copy of their retirement orders together with their

The nation’s largest voluntary,
all-enrollee-paid dental program continues to offer coverage for diagnostic
and preventive services, basic restorative services, periodontics,
endodontics, oral surgery, dental emergencies and a separate dental accident
benefit with no waiting period. The program currently covers over 800,000
retired members of the uniformed services, including National Guard and
Reserve personnel, and their families.

“We are working in partnership with TMA
to offer a comprehensive dental program with the fewest possible restrictions
in the first year of enrollment,” said Lowell Daun, DDS, senior vice
president for Delta’s Federal Services division. “We are also working to keep
premiums affordable for members of the National Guard/Reserve.”

Eligibility for the TRICARE Retiree
Dental Program extends to all retirees of the Reserve and Guard and their
family members, including “gray area” retired Reservists who are entitled to
retired pay but will not begin receiving it until age 60. Although
eligibility for this group has been in effect since the TRDP first began in
1998, many retired Reserve and Guard members, and even more “gray area”
retirees, still do not realize they are eligible. It is important to note
that as with all new retirees, the 120-day period during which a “gray area”
retired Reservist can enroll in the TRDP to qualify for the 12-month waiting
period waiver begins with his/her retirement effective date, not the date
he/she reaches age 60.

The TRDP, first authorized by Congress
in 1997, continues today to offer one of the few affordable, comprehensive
dental benefit programs available to the nation’s Uniformed Services
retirees, as well as to retirees of the Reserve and Guard. The TRDP is a
nationwide, combined fee-for-service/ preferred provider program that offers
enrollees access to any licensed dentist in all 50 states, plus the District
of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Canada.

Enrollees may seek care from any
licensed dentist, with optimal benefits available when choosing a
participating “Delta Dental PPO” dentist in over 80,000 locations nationwide.

The TRDP carries a $50 per person
annual deductible. The program also includes a family deductible cap of $150
and an annual maximum amount of $1,200, against which preventive and
diagnostic services are not counted. 
In addition to the annual maximum, the TRDP also has a separate dental
accident annual maximum of $1,000 and a lifetime orthodontic maximum of

Eligible retirees
and their family members can find answers to their questions about the
program as well as enroll using Delta’s dedicated TRDP web site at or by calling
the toll-free number at 1-866-567-1658. 

Delta Dental of California belongs to a
larger holding company system, formed jointly with Delta Dental of
Pennsylvania and several affiliate companies, covering nearly 21 million
enrollees in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Both the California and
Pennsylvania Delta Plans are members of the national Delta Dental Plans
Association, which collectively covers 43 million Americans.





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Dayton Hears Military Families’ Concerns



March 07,

Minn. – Caring for wounded soldiers and the difficulty of obtaining
information about those serving in the Middle East were among concerns
expressed to Sen. Mark Dayton during an emotional meeting with military
family members.

About 40
people attended Saturday’s two-hour meeting at the St. Cloud Civic Center to
speak to Dayton; Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, the Minnesota National Guard‘s adjutant general; and Sue Mills, the family
readiness group leader for the Minnesota National
‘s Bravo Company, 434th Main Support Battalion. The unit is serving
in Iraq.

here to listen,” Dayton said. “Your soldiers define patriotism and
valor as I understand those words. Whatever I can do, I wish I can do
more.” Length of deployments, the soldiers’ access to the Internet and
telephones in Iraq, and taking care of the wounded were among the topics
discussed. The families also wanted to know how they could make sure their
soldier is alive and well when there are media reports of soldiers being

Some people
were upset that the media reported the Feb. 21 deaths of three Minnesota
soldiers killed by a roadside bomb when military families couldn’t get
information. Some families attended the meeting for support. Lisa Newcomer,
an Anoka woman whose husband is serving in Afghanistan, said the most
important thing is to support and care for the soldiers. “You have to
take care of these soldiers,” she said. “It’s about taking care of
the soldiers and making them feel like they’re taken care of. That’s how you
build your military.”




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The War Comes Home; They’re Back from Iraq, but
Are They OK?



March 7,

M.L. Lyke, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter

guardsman walks into a local Wal-Mart, freaks, does a 180, and walks back out
again. Even after seven months, he can’t stand the crowds. Another jerks
awake in the middle of the night, holding an imagined gun at his wife’s

“Uh …
honey?” she asks.

The soldiers
tear down highways, swerve to avoid trash in the road. The bag that held a
Big Mac could now hide a bomb. One still jumps if you touch his neck. Others
refuse to sleep in beds. Those who do may awake in a sweat.

members of the Ephrata-based 1161st Transportation Company, the close-knit National Guard unit that returned
from Iraq seven months ago to a happy little town dolled up in yellow ribbons
and townsfolk who breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Everyone in
the town knew someone in uniform. The 130 citizen soldiers — from age 18 to
60 — were the region’s postmen, tractor mechanics, lab technicians, firefighters
and weekend warriors called to war.

was this sense of something missing when they were gone,” says Wes
Crago, city administrator of Ephrata, population 6,980. “Now, watching
the news, hearing about roadside bombings, there’s not the weight, not the

people are back home.”

All of them.
The unit had no casualties, only three wounded. Driving was extreme-danger
duty in Iraq, but the 1161st managed to complete more than 14,000 missions,
covering more than 1 million miles.

Some call it
“The Miracle Company.” But if no one paid the ultimate price, the
deployment still came at a considerable cost.

some citizen soldiers have slowly eased back into routines, others still feel
like strangers in their own lives seven months after troops touched down.

They landed.
And crashed.

talk to someone and they say, ‘You’re fine now, you’re home, so everything’s
good.’ You want to say, ‘No. It’s not good. I’m feeling lost,’ ” says
Spc. Keith Bond, a 31-year-old explosives specialist and father of two.

Some nights
he goes to bed not even thinking about Iraq. “Others I lay down and
‘Bam!’ ” The face of a young Iraqi boy who aimed a gun at his truck
haunts him. Bond drew a bead on him, almost took the kid out before he
realized the gun was a toy. He says it felt like 45 minutes. It was probably
10 seconds. It’s still messing with his head.

if I had shot that boy?”

How, ask
soldiers, do you explain that to civilians? How do you explain anything —
the claustrophobia of being close, the anger that lashes out of nowhere, the
desire to hole up?

“For a
while I just wanted to sit home and do nothing,” says Spc. Steve Hurt,
whose son, Tanner, was four days home from the hospital when he left. “I
was tired of talking about the war, tired of hearing people ask, ‘Did you
shoot anybody?’ I didn’t want anything to do with anybody — and here I was
with a wife who wanted attention, and a 2-year-old son who was walking.”

Seven months
after his return, Hurt and wife, Michelle, both 26, are still quarreling.
“We fight over stupid things, like disciplining Tanner and paying
bills,” he says. “I wasn’t used to having to deal with all this

The small
1161st unit — closely tracked by larger National
battalions with new waves of soldiers coming home — could still
sniff the gunfire when it arrived in Iraq in May 2003.

The company
was one of the first on the ground, one of the most poorly equipped and
pulled one of the longest deployments, with two tough extensions. The
soldiers — some call themselves “guinea pigs” — found out about
the last extension from newspapers, a problem higher-ups vowed not to repeat.

military has said they hoped to learn by mistakes made with our unit,”
says Sheila Kelly, wife of Spc. Edward Kelly.

training and extensions, the unit was gone from families for more than 18
months, finally arriving at Fort Lewis at the end of July. The military had
prepped soldiers and spouses on possible reintegration problems. But nothing,
some say, could fully prepare them for what was to come.

After the
tractor parades, the award ceremonies, the celebrations and chili feeds died
down, it was all quiet on the eastern front. In some households, eerily

Sheila Kelly
says her husband locked himself in the bathroom to dress when he first got
home. He’d become a smoker. He cursed. He was reclusive. He didn’t want to be
kissed, hugged — it felt “suffocating.” When she threw a big
dinner party, he bolted.

say it’s like a roller coaster, and sooner or later the ride comes to an end.
But it doesn’t. There’s always another ride that begins,” says Sheila
Kelly, 41, tears spilling onto her cheeks.

Even after
seven months, Spc. Kelly, 42, still craves privacy. “For me the hard
part is getting back to the day-to-day, re-establishing my feelings and
emotions,” says the soldier, a lab technician in civilian life.
“It’s like you have this little buffer zone around you — and you don’t
want to let anyone in.”

Kelly doubts
he’ll ever be “old normal” again.

But who
defines “new normal?”

“I keep
trying to bring back the old me,” says Bond. “I bring him back one
day, and the next I have to try to find that person all over again.”

One 1161st
mother says her son left a boy and came back a man.

Sgt. Jeff
Elliott, 35, left a kid at heart, and came back feeling “like a
60-year-old man.”

The father
of five is one of three Guardsmen in the unit decorated with a Purple Heart.
He was wounded in June 2003, when a bomb in a black plastic bag hit the truck
he was driving. He was in medical hold at Fort Lewis until last November,
undergoing treatment for an injured back and anxiety, with symptoms of
post-traumatic stress disorder.

He came home
with an electronic box on his hip to interrupt pain signals to his back. It
flashes like the light on a pursuing cop car. “We’ve been in hell. After
you’ve been in hell, nothing’s ever really the same again,” he says.

He can’t
tolerate crowds and avoids restaurants — unless his buddy Bond is there to
cover his back. Like other soldiers accustomed to strict discipline, he’s
often impatient with the kids. “It’s Daddy wants it done now, and he
wants it done right now. If it’s not, it pushes his button,” says Penny,
his wife of 15 years.

family wonders what happened to the outgoing baby-faced dad who laughed and
joked with the kids, chasing them through the house, rolling around on the
floor with them.

This other
dad hurts, and he’s angry. “There’s a mentality in the military that, if
you complain you’re hurt, you’re faking it, you’re slacking,” says the
sergeant. “So 99.1 percent of the time you suck it up, don’t

There was
plenty to complain about in Iraq in 2003. The unit arrived to no running
water, no sanitation, no air conditioning and a sheep camp with blood and
feces on the wall for a base. The “guinea pigs” often felt like
sitting ducks with no armor for their trucks, and inadequate flak gear for
their bodies. Sweltering in 120-degree heat, they steamed when officers in
air-conditioned SUVs rolled down their electric windows to bark orders.

For some,
serving in Iraq was a matter of pride; for others, a waste of time. “I
lost almost two years in my children’s lives for something I see as a total
waste of time and money and effort,” says Spc. Kelly.

For Kory and
Melissa Brown, it has been an exercise in togetherness. The husband and wife
shipped out together, returned together. Although they couldn’t touch or show
affection in camp — they stole a kiss or two — they shared the same
experiences. It’s made readjustment simpler.

knows where I’m coming from …” says Kory, 29.

“And he
knows where I’m coming from,” says Melissa, 28, completing the sentence.

She’s a
dental hygienist in town, and, like others in the 1161st, found re-entry into
the civilian work force challenging. Away almost two years, she was rusty,
and it took her several months to get her skill level back. There are still
procedures she has to learn again. “I thought I would come back and just
jump right into things,” she says.

At least she
came home to a job. Some soldiers didn’t, including Spc. Hurt. He had to quit
his old job when his wife moved to Ephrata. He came home from an 18-month
deployment to a long, seven-month hunt for work. He applied everywhere and
had only two phone calls, he says. “I felt like, after serving the country
for 18 months, I come home, and I couldn’t even get a job. That got to me.

started thinking, ‘Maybe they’re not hiring me because they know I could be
redeployed.’ “

is a touchy topic in this little town, where remaining yellow ribbons are now
faded by sun, frayed by wind.

With guard
enlistments falling 30 percent short of recruitment goals, and members of the
reserve and guard providing at least 40 percent of personnel in Iraq, the
pressure’s on. “When soldiers call to ask me what are the chances we’ll
go back, I tell them 50-50,” says Sgt. 1st Class Merle McLain, the
36-year-old readiness manager for the 1161st and father of 3-year-old twins
Alex and Sara.

They were 20
months old when the tall sergeant with the booming voice left for Iraq. He
missed the “terrible 2s,” potty training, his son’s bout with
pneumonia and emergency surgery. He tried to get home and was denied — a low

Marcee, 32, who heads family support for the unit, says the kids are still
working to reconnect with Dad. They bawled the first time he raised his voice
and still run to Mommy for comfort. “The kids have to regain the trust
that the parent is going to stay.”

Is he?

Mom doesn’t
like to think about the troops going back.

But, like
everyone else in the “Miracle Company” family, she can’t help it.

always in the back of my mind,” she says softly.





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Healthcare Access; New U.S. Army Program Gets
Injured Soldiers Medical Help Close to Home


Fitness & Wellness Week

March 12,

 Sgt. Chris Dunbar was nursing a shattered
jaw with a liquid diet on the plane ride home from Iraq. Upon arriving at
Fort Stewart, Georgia, he realized he would be stuck at the base for more
than a year until his teeth and mouth fully healed.

What would
be better, the reservist thought, is if the Army would let him go home to

The Army

Through the
Army’s new community-based healthcare initiative, Dunbar was allowed to
return home to Tampa, Florida, where he is being treated by an Air Force
doctor and has family help while remaining on active duty. “This is
really a godsend,” Dunbar said in a telephone interview with The
Associated Press.

 The program in Florida is one of five
established since January 2004 to serve injured National Guard and Reserve soldiers in 23 states.  A center opened in Birmingham to evaluate
the healthcare needs of soldiers in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and

 “The purpose is to allow soldiers to
come back to their communities and receive medical care instead of at a
military installation,” said Alabama Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Bob

Each center
has case workers who evaluate the soldiers’ eligibility to return home and a
nurse to monitor their progress.

indefinite nature of the Iraq war, mounting injuries and multiple returns to
combat by Guard and Reserve troops forced the Army to re-evaluate its
healthcare policy, said Lt. Col. Ken Braddock, who oversees the
community-based healthcare programs for most of the eastern United States.

not the Army we were 20, 30 years ago,” Braddock said. “The demands
of the Army and needs of soldiers are changing. The old concept was everybody
is mobilized, they all come to war, they either win or lose and come back.
The war on terrorism is a long-term war. … We’ve reached scales we haven’t
seen since World War II.”

 Fighting the war against terror is forcing
part-time soldiers to take on full-time duties in Iraq. Army officials
anticipated that the increasing injuries would surpass capacity at Army
installations, though they haven’t yet, said Col. Barbara Scherb, who manages
the program from Forces Command.

that’s why the Army looked at a community-based option, to augment the
medical capacity,” said Scherb, who estimated the administrative costs
of the nationwide program would reach $23 million this year.

But now the
Army is seeing benefits for the treatment of soldiers, as well. Allowing
troops to be treated near home can “get them to heal quicker,”
Braddock said.

In order to
be eligible for community-based healthcare, soldiers must remain on active
duty. While they are treated near home, they also take on a military job so
they get out of the house and adjust to living in a civilian environment.

Dunbar took
on work at the community-based healthcare center in Tampa, where he helps
soldiers from Georgia and his home state.

come a long way. (At an Army installation) you don’t have as much to do. Here
I have structure,” Dunbar said. “It’s just so much better, you get
to reconnect.”

soldiers have recovered from their injuries, they are released from active
duty until their next scheduled mobilization.

January, 2004, community-based healthcare centers have been established in
Florida, Arkansas, California, Massachusetts and Wisconsin to serve Guard and
Reserve members in 23 states and have helped more than 1,100 injured
soldiers. With upcoming community-based healthcare centers in Alabama,
Virginia and Utah, every state will have access to the community-based
healthcare case workers, Braddock said.

Scherb said
the program should be able to help the majority of injured soldiers, but it’s
not for everybody.

In the
two-phase process, military doctors first determine whether an injured soldier
will benefit from being treated close to home. Then, case workers at the
centers decide if the soldier will be near a doctor, either military or
civilian, who is capable of treating the injury. Adequate transportation by
the soldier or his family is also mandatory to ensure visits to the doctor,
who accepts TRICARE, the healthcare provider for the Department of Defense.

meeting all the criteria is especially challenging for soldiers who live in
rural areas where doctors and specialists are often scarce.

program is not for everybody, but it fits the needs of most soldiers,”
Braddock said.

soldiers who benefit most are those who have sustained ligament tears and
broken bones in combat, conditions that a local doctor or specialist is
accustomed to treating. Soldiers with maiming injuries often fare better at
military hospitals, such as Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which
specializes in treating amputees and soldiers in need of prosthetics,
Braddock said.

Scherb also
said getting to be close to home is sometimes a trade off for the urgent
medical services the Army is used to treating. “We cannot dictate to the
civilian community how fast they have to see the soldiers,” she said.

But soldiers
like Dunbar couldn’t be happier. He praised the Army for coming up with a
program that helps heal physical wounds while also taking emotional scars
into consideration.

“When I
got back from Iraq, it was a shock to the system anyway. And then to be
injured and not know anyone around me, that was hard,” he said.
“But this, this is the best thing they ever did.”

This article
was prepared by Obesity, Fitness 
&  Wellness Week editors
from staff and other reports. 
Copyright 2005, Obesity, Fitness 
&  Wellness Week via  &





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Military Family Relief; Tax-Form Checkoff Eyed



2 March 2005

Ottaway News Service

Supporting the troops may soon be as easy as checking a box on your state tax

A bill in
the legislature would create a state Military Family Relief Fund to help out
the families of more than 7,500 New York reservists and National Guard members on active duty.

“Creating this fund would be a
tremendous help to these men and women who are already sacrificing to defend
our country,” said Sen. Bill Larkin (R-Cornwall-on-Hudson), the Senate
sponsor of the bill. Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) is a co-sponsor.

Assemblyman Darryl Towns, a Brooklyn
Democrat and Air Force veteran, is introducing a companion bill in the

The fund would provide grants of up to
$2,000 a year for military families hit by the loss of civilian paychecks. It
would also provide a $1,000 benefit for Guard members and reservists injured
while on active duty and a $5,000 death benefit.

To be eligible, a reservist or Guard
member must be called up to active duty for at least 30 days and be stationed
at least 100 miles from home.

Ten states have already established
similar funds, and legislation to create the funds is pending in 21 states,
including New York. If the bill is approved and signed into law, the checkoff
boxes will appear on next year’s tax forms



Nextel Wants Help Supporting The Troops

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Idaho State

3 March 2005

Journal Staff

– Local wireless service provider Nextel Partners Inc., has launched
Operation: Adopt a Soldier to send necessary daily items to troops deployed
in the Middle East.

According to
a press release from Nextel, working in conjunction with the Idaho Falls National Guard Armory, items will be
collected from the public until March 31. A “care” package will be
sent to the 116th Calvary Brigade, currently stationed in the area.

Wireless, 315 River Parkway, Idaho Falls, is the drop-off site for eastern
Idaho. Items requested include school supplies, disposable mechanical
pencils, hard candy and toiletries. For a longer list of requested items,
call All-Star Wireless at 522-6135 or Beverly McLendon, family assistant
coordinator of the Idaho Falls National
Armory at 522-0715.

Partners also is taking part in the American Red Cross Donate a Phone program
which supports the Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Service to relay messages
between military personnel and their families. The company is helping
collect, recycle or refurbish the phones; proceeds benefit this American Red
Cross program.



Child Care Relief Comes for Families of
National Guard and Reserve Members Serving in Global War on Terror 

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March 03,

Military Child Care to Provide Support for Families of Deployed Guard,
Reserve and Active Duty Service Members

March 3 /PRNewswire/ — National Guard,
Reserve and Active Duty military families with service members serving in the
Global War on Terror will begin receiving financial assistance and help
locating quality child care in their communities thanks to the launch of a
joint initiative between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the National
Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) announced

Military Child Care (OMCC), which will be administered by NACCRRA, will
provide financial relief and assistance locating quality child care for
eligible military families who do not have access to the DoD’s on-base child
care options. The program will serve families and child guardians of National Guard and Reserve Service
members mobilized or deployed for the Global War on Terrorism.

“It can
be a challenge for any parent to locate affordable, quality child care in
their community,” said Linda Smith, executive director of NACCRRA.
“For the spouse of a deployed Guard or Reserve service member who may
now be looking at a reduced income with a larger need for child care support,
the process can be even more overwhelming. Operation: Military Child Care
will bridge the gap to provide affordable, quality child care options for
these families.”

The largest
employer-supported child care program in the nation, the DoD’s child care
program serves more than 200,000 children. While the program has been hailed
as a model of child care quality, a large number of military families,
particularly Guard and Reserve, are not located near bases and need to find
comparable care in their own communities.

care is among the top concerns we continue to hear from military families
across the country,” said M.-A. Lucas, director, Army Child and Youth
Services. “Deploying Service members worry about the extra child care
support their spouses will now need while they are gone serving our country.
And Guard and Reserve members called to active duty have the added concern of
how their families will afford the added child care they need.”

program is an essential step in the evolution of how the Department of
Defense is reaching out to support the child care needs of geographically
dispersed military families who do not have access to the high quality child
care services offered on military installations,” Lucas added.

initiative will be administered by a network of NACCRRA member agencies that
will walk families through the process of locating a qualified care provider.
Once approved, NACCRRA will provide financial support directly to the
provider on behalf of DoD, so that Service members’ fees can be reduced.

The amount
of financial assistance will vary for each family and will depend upon
factors such as total family income, geographical location, military services
child care fee policies, available funding, as well as certain family
circumstances. Eligible families can call the Child Care Aware hotline at
1-800-424-2246 or go online at for help with
applying for the subsidy and location assistance.

About Child
Care Resource and Referral: Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies help
families find, select, and pay for child care, as well as provide training
and support to child care providers and help communities and states meet
their child care and parenting needs. Through the Child Care Aware(R)
program, funded through a cooperative agreement with the Child Care Bureau,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly half a million families
each year are connected to their community Child Care Resource and Referral
agencies through the national hotline and Web site, .

NACCRRA: Child Care Aware(R) and Operation: Military Child Care are two of
NACCRRA’s many initiatives to improve the development and learning of all
children by providing leadership and support to state and community Child
Care Resource and Referral Agencies and promoting national policies and
partnerships that facilitate universal access to quality child care. NACCRRA
is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.,
representing a network of more than 850 state and local Child Care Resource
and Referral




to Soldiers Are Hugs from Home

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By Mike


Every once
in a while, people wanting to do something nice come up with a neat little
idea that turns into something great.

People such
as Ann Jones and her mother, Kerin Hatch, for example.

Last fall,
Ann and Kerin, who are from Nevada, were looking for a service project for
their quilt guild. About the same time, the Nevada community got word that
153 members of Company A, 735th Main Support Battalion, Army National Guard,
would be deployed to Iraq.

What a neat
thing it would be, Ann thought, if her group could make a quilt for every
member of Company A. At the guild’s September meeting, she floated the idea
to the other members, and it was quickly endorsed.

between September and October, reality set in, Ann said.

realized that with only about 20 active guild members, making 153 quilts was
going to be a little overwhelming,” she said.

Here’s where
things start to turn great. Kerin decided that maybe they should take the
quilt idea beyond the guild and get the community involved.

The group
got the local paper, the Nevada Daily Mail, to help get the word out. Guild
members appeared on the local radio station, and they took advantage of a
vast network of friends and relatives. As it turns out, just about everyone
who heard about the idea thought it was a cool thing to do and wanted to

And not just
quilters. A trust fund was set up at a local bank, and people who couldn’t
quilt donated money for materials.


Kerin said
the response overwhelmed her.

think I was surprised by the amount of involvement,” she said.

How much
involvement was there? Quilts or help in one form or another poured in not
just from Nevada, but from all over the state and even from as far away as
Las Vegas, Nev., and southwest Florida.

from El Dorado Springs showed up to quilt, and so did a group from Rich Hill.
The FFA chapter in El Dorado Springs got involved, and one FFA member spent
Halloween trick-or-treating to collect money for the project.

It’s sort of
safe to say the quilt project caught on.

Before long,
that 153-quilt goal was a memory. By the time the quilting project was
officially over, 417 quilts were completed. That was enough quilts not only
for the members of Company A but also for soldiers in Company D.

The quilts
were stored in an office at the Nevada Optometric Center, which is owned by
Kerin’s husband and Ann’s father, Ron Hatch.

Ron didn’t
just lend the guild office space. He organized the folding and bagging of the
quilts, and prepared them for shipping.

Earlier this
week, I zipped up to Nevada to meet Kerin, Ann, Ron and guild members Sharon
Kamla (Kerin’s sister), Joni Hatch (Kerin’s daughter and Ann’s sister),
Janice Almquist, Betty Beeman and Marilyn Greer. Also on hand was Sgt. Robin
Junker with the 735th Battalion. Robin served as a liaison of sorts to help
ensure that the quilts made it to their destination.

Kerin showed
me one of the quilts, and I must say that at first glance, it struck me as a
little plain. But, as it turns out, there’s a reason for that: The color
scheme is purposely bland, a mix of neutral tans and off whites.

wanted to make them a desert camouflage color so the soldiers wouldn’t become
targets,” Kerin explained.

Although the
quilters are used do dealing with brighter and more vibrant colors, Kerin
said the quilts “got prettier the more we worked with them.”

You see, the
original idea was for the quilts to be what the guild members call
“utility quilts.” And by some standards, the soldiers’ quilts are
small, just big enough for a military cot. Evidently, there are not a lot of
king-sized beds for the soldiers in Iraq.

figured they would be used and forgotten,” Ann said.

But the
quilts won’t be forgotten. The soldiers in the 735th are crazy about them.
Imagine being far from home, separated from your family and stuck in a
hostile environment. Then, in the mail, you get a handmade quilt, a quilt
made by someone who really cares for you, part of what the quilters call a
“hug from home.”

How would that
make you feel?


So far, it’s
made more than 400 members of the 735th feel awfully special.

In time,
these quilts will be more than a hug from home. They will become family
treasures, heirlooms to remind generations of their family’s unselfish
commitment to their country.

As the women
talked about that, they nodded their heads. And they just beamed.

Is that great or what?


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