America Supports You: Packages Help Troops Finish Projects They Start
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2008 Whether it’s just a nail that’s needed to hang a family photo or a new saw blade for tackling bigger projects, a Dallas-based support group is playing hardware store for deployed troops.
G.I. Woodshop, Inc., started when Richard Ireland, the group’s president, began getting odd requests from his brother who’s serving in Iraq. Ireland, a disabled veteran, founded the group with two other individuals: another disabled veteran and a military family member.
Ireland’s brother, an Army sergeant first class, is with 1st Sustainment Brigade, from Fort Riley, Kan. He currently serves as noncommissioned officer in charge of the Camp Taji woodshop. “I decided if there was a need at Camp Taji, then other [forward operating bases] might be [in need] also,” Ireland said.
He learned there was a need for all sorts of woodshop supplies, and the response from the troops was overwhelmingly positive, he said. Responses he’s received from troops indicate they’ve lost track of just how many projects have been completed because of the items in G.I. Woodshop’s care packages.
G.I. Woodshop doesn’t want to draw the line at supplying just woodworking enthusiasts deployed to forward operating bases, however. The group’s members plan on taking their support a step further.
Where most woodworkers or builders can simply run to the nearest home improvement super store if they run out of No. 8 woodscrews in the middle of a project, that’s not the case for servicemembers overseas.
“Realizing that there are hobby and woodshops on most overseas bases, we envision being able to supply their [noncommissioned officers in charge] with hard-to-get requested ... items, as well,” Ireland said. “I’m sure the need for certain items … is still great no matter where troops are stationed.
“Home Depots are not worldwide yet, and [the Army and Air Force Exchange Service] doesn’t have bulk nails, screws, sandpaper, paint brushes, replacement saw blades in their … online catalog,” he added.
G.I. Woodshop is a new supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department programs connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.