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America Supports You Shows Phenomenal Growth in Second Year

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2006 – Americans from all walks of life played a role in the exceptional second year growth of America Supports You, as 2006 saw more than 6 million care packages sent to troops serving overseas and nearly $3.5 million raised by the community groups that make up the program.

America Supports You is a Defense Department of program launched in 2004 aimed at showcasing support for members of the armed forces by the American people and communicating that support to military members and their families.

Among the accomplishments of America Supports You was the creation of a national tradition to observe the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon, New York City and Shanksville, Pa. Americans rallied to remember and honor the lives lost during the attacks by hosting America Supports You Freedom Walks in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with nearly 140 walks organized across the nation.

“This past year has been an amazing journey, and we’ve seen the extraordinary and growing capacity Americans have to take care of each other by continuously asking, ‘How can we help?’” said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense and architect of the America Supports You program. “Our community groups have done phenomenal work for our soldiers and their families, and have shown that Americans have an unparalleled desire to give back to those who so bravely defend our freedoms.”

In the past year, nearly 250 America Supports You community groups have worked tirelessly to show appreciation for those who wear the uniform. In Orange, Calif., 16-year-old Shauna Fleming’s ambitious letter-writing campaign, “A Million Thanks.org,” sent 2.6 million letters to servicemembers stationed around the world. Similarly, Jeanette Cram of Hilton Head Island, S.C., gave selflessly as her organization, “Treat the Troops,” continued baking thousands of cookies to be sent to troops stationed overseas. President Bush has personally thanked both Fleming and Cram in the White House, along with 37 other America Supports You community groups throughout the year.

In July, America Supports You member John Gonsalves, founder of the Taunton, Mass.-based “Homes for Our Troops,” was awarded the Medal of Honor by the Daughters of the American Revolution, the organization’s most prestigious award. Gonsalves was recognized for his dedication to building and refitting homes to be handicap-accessible for returning members of the military with disabilities. Past award recipients include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former first lady Lady Bird Johnson.

In 2006, nearly 70 new organizations applied for membership in America Supports You. These additions have brought the total number of America Supports You groups to nearly 250, and helped attract more than 2.5 million unique visitors to the America Supports You Web site, www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil. The results have been astounding, as America Supports You groups have:

-- Shipped more than 6 million care packages to the troops;

-- Raised nearly $3.5 million in financial support for service members and their families;

-- Mailed over 3.4 million cards and letters of support to military men and women;

-- Delivered more than 500,000 books to deployed troops;

-- Greeted over 75,000 troops returning home from deployment;

-- Provided more than 1,500 computers to military families so they can keep in touch with their deployed loved ones;

-- Built or remodeled more than 25 homes for wounded veterans; and

-- Organized and participated in 9/11-commemoration Freedom Walks in every state in the country.

America Supports You corporate team members have partnered with community groups this year for additional successes as well. Among the many partnerships between corporations and community groups that have taken place this year are:

-- “The Patriotic Drive,” a collaboration between America Supports You team members Checkers/Rally’s and Encino, Calif.-based “Operation Gratitude,” which resulted in more than 40,000 care packages sent to U.S. troops.

-- “Operation Christmas,” a joint effort between “Operation Homefront” and Wal-Mart, which launched a six-city holiday caravan to distribute toys and Wal-Mart gift cards to military children and their families in Belleville, Ill.; Norfolk, Va.; Pensacola, Fla.; Gulfport, Miss.; San Antonio; and Savannah, Ga.

-- The PGA Tour and the Tournament Players Clubs teamed up to raise more than $1 million over the last two years for three America Supports You community groups: “Homes For Our Troops” of Taunton, Mass.; “Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund” of New York City; and “Wounded Warrior Project” of Jacksonville, Fla.

“America Supports You is growing by leaps and bounds as more and more Americans recognize the importance of reminding our troops that we appreciate everything they do,” Barber said. “This program is taking root in all corners of the country and is now finally cementing itself at the forefront of patriotic organizations and is becoming a staple of service member support.”

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