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America Supports You: Tennessee Teen in Tune With Servicemembers

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2006 – "America Supports You" member Kaylee Marie Radzyminski stumbled across an entertaining way to thank the troops fighting in the global war on terrorism.

She's collecting CDs, DVDs and books on CD; more than 1,000 since the end of summer when she started Tunes 4 the Troops. Her goals is to collect and ship 500,000 pieces of entertainment by the 2008 holiday season, she said. America Supports You is a Defense Department program that highlights efforts by the American people and the nation's corporate sector to tangibly support members of the armed forces.

Kaylee, 14, of Cleveland, Tenn., has been a member of the Sea Cadet Corps, a part of the Navy family, since December 2002. At recruit training last summer, she talked with military personnel and realized what deployments are like.

"The one thing that they say when they're overseas is that there's no entertainment over there," she said. "When they do have entertainment, they use it so many times that it just gets so old."

When she realized she had CDs she didn't listen to any more, it seemed the perfect way to support the troops and ease the monotony of a deployment. Her friends and her mother came through with donations as well, Kaylee said.

In fact, Tunes 4 the Troops is getting support from many sources. A Minnesota pawnshop has made a donation and has challenged all Minnesota pawnshops to do the same. The Cleveland police chief has issued a challenge to other Tennessee police departments to support Kaylee. Kaylee also would like to see every armed forces recruiting office in the country follow the example of the offices in Chattanooga and Cleveland by collecting CDs.

Kaylee and her mom visited wounded servicemembers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Hospital at Bethesda at Thanksgiving. During their visit, they delivered almost 500 CDs and DVDs bearing a "Thank You" sticker with the Tunes 4 the Troops e-mail address, she said.

"They were really gracious," Kaylee said of the servicemembers. "We got to speak to some people there, and they said that it means a lot to them and they're just amazed that a 14-year-old could think of all that."

A straight-A freshman honor student, Kaylee hopes to attend the Naval Academy and make the Navy a career. Her area of interest is nuclear engineering and eventually politics, she said. Testing her political persuasive powers, she offered a suggestion for those who own digital music devices: download your CDs to your digital players, then donate the CDs to Tunes 4 the Troops.

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