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McDonald's Partners With 'America Support You' Program

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2005 – Since McDonald's joined the Defense Department's "America Supports You" team earlier this month to support the troops, the restaurant chain is "lovin' it."

"We want to make sure that our troops know that our customers and Americans are behind them," said Mike Donahue, vice president for U.S. communications and customer satisfaction. "America Supports You is so important because we don't want people to forget that freedom is not free." The program recognizes citizens' support for the men and women of the armed forces and communicates that support to servicemembers at home and abroad.

Donahue said America Supports You is a natural fit for the hamburger chain because the company's principles are so closely aligned with the military's.

"We believe that we share so many values in common with the military that we want to continue to express our appreciation," he said. "Dedication, hard work, training, teamwork: All the things a crew has to learn to run a McDonald's are similar to what (is taught) in the military and we want to make sure we're expressing our gratitude."

McDonald's, one of the first major corporate sponsors of America Supports You, has been expressing gratitude for America's heroes for the past three years through the National Salute to America's Heroes program. Donahue said the program honors many groups that are considered heroes, and that includes U.S. servicemembers.

The company already has plans in place for this year's program, and is working to incorporate the America Supports You message into several of its events. McDonald's also plans to show support for America Supports You through advertising, in-restaurant materials and local marketing efforts during National Military Appreciation Month in May.

"We are thrilled that the America Supports You message will reach so many through the support of McDonald's," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison. "McDonald's efforts will help make America Supports You part of our national lexicon, providing a tremendous morale boost not just for those serving overseas, but for their families as well."

McDonald's will be making America Supports You dog tags available, as well as providing guidelines for franchise owners indicating how they can encourage support for servicemembers locally, Donahue said. That also includes making people aware of the America Supports You site on the World Wide Web.

"We want to refer as many people as we can to the Web site, because that's a way that they can demonstrate (their support) and all the men and women who are serving can pull up and see how America is expressing their gratitude," he said. "We think that American companies have a responsibility to show their support for the men and women who serve. We believe that all Americans ... should participate in these efforts."

Donahue said he believes it's important to keep the troops and their mission in the front of people's minds. To work toward that goal, the company is considering events to promote the America Supports You message on other holidays throughout the year.

"We love being able to be a part of America Supports You, because I think at the end of the day, it's all about values and some of those traditional beliefs that all of us share," he said.

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