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America Supports You: CBS Highlights DoD Program to Support Troops

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2005 – CBS commemorated Veterans Day by highlighting troops and causes that support them, particularly the Defense Department's "America Supports You" campaign, on "The Early Show" this morning.

Servicemembers and many others shivered in the November cold outside the show's New York studios for hours to spotlight the America Supports You program every time the cameras panned the crowd. Dozens of servicemembers, from newly minted sailors in dress uniforms to soldiers in desert camouflage fatigues, were intermingled among volunteers holding signs that proclaimed "America Supports You" with the program's signature logo. "Serving those who proudly serve," read one giant banner.

The America Supports You program uses a Web site and public events to spotlight things ordinary Americans and corporations do to support the troops.

Host Harry Smith noted that some of the sailors outside the studio had just enlisted. "Literally, the ink's barely dry" on their enlistment contracts, he said. Dave Price, another host, noted that Air Force recruits from the 314th Recruiting Squadron, in Burlington, N.J., were also present.

Price spoke from firsthand knowledge of how important the America Supports You program is. "I want to tell you on this Veterans Day, having been overseas in Afghanistan earlier this year, so many soldiers told me the most important thing they've gotten over there are letters, simple letters of, 'thank you' and 'hello,'" he said.

In a brief interview, 16-year-old Shauna Fleming said the best way to get such letters straight to the troops is through the America Supports You Web site, www.americasupportsyou.mil. Fleming is something of an authority on letters for troops. The nonprofit organization she started, "A Million Thanks," has collected well over 1 million thank you notes for U.S. troops. She has been invited to both the Pentagon and the White House in recognition of her efforts.

Earlier this month, Fleming presented the 1.4 millionth letter her campaign has collected to retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until Sept. 30.

In New York today, Fleming said the America Supports You Web site is "just a great way to get what you're doing (for the troops) out there."

"And it's another great thing because the troops go on that site and they see what America's doing to support them," she continued.

Sporting a bright red t-shirt that said "Thank Our Troops" and wearing a big America Supports You sticker, Fleming also mentioned that people who sign up on the America Supports You site receive a free set of dog tags with the program's logo.

After speaking with Fleming, Price urged Americans to do what they can to remember veterans today. "Thank a soldier if you see them on the street; thank a sailor," he said. "Do your part everyone, and support the veterans."

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