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America Supports You: New Jersey Cities to Welcome Units Home in Grand Style

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2008 – Two units of the 82nd Airborne Division will be treated to a heroes’ welcome in November when Holmdel and Middletown, N.J., host a joint homecoming for their “adopted” troops.

The units and the cities were paired by America Supporting Americans, a California-based nonprofit group that links military units with communities across the country.

“The centerpiece of ASA's work is the Adopt-A-Unit Program,” said Linda Patterson, the group’s president and founder. “Believing that a strong, supportive connection between young men and women of our armed forces and the civilian communities they are ready and willing to serve is crucial to morale, ASA has committed itself to building and strengthening this link.”

While the homecoming event is still in the planning stages, it’s scheduled to cover three days, Nov. 6 through 8. A Veterans Day parade is expected to be the highlight of the event and will give the cities’ residents the opportunity to come out and personally thank their soldiers, Patterson said.

“I’m sure you can imagine the planning that goes into an event such as this, and we are extremely proud of these New Jersey communities, their city leaders and citizens,” she said. “This is going to be an … event in two outstanding ASA cities who have rallied their citizens’ participation, businesses, and schools, young and old to support these soldiers throughout their deployment.”

Patterson started America Supporting Americans in 1967 when her brother, Army Sgt. Joe Artavia, wrote to her from Vietnam and asked her to do something to raise the morale of his unit. She, in turn, convinced her hometown of San Mateo, Calif., to “adopt” her brother’s unit. The adoption did the trick and raised the troops’ morale “as high as the clouds,” Artavia wrote to his sister.

Artavia, 19, was killed three weeks after San Mateo adopted his unit, and Patterson has continued working to raise troops’ morale by encouraging communities across the country to adopt military units.

America Supporting Americans is included on the America Supports You Web site. America Supports You is a Defense Department program that communicates citizen support to servicemembers and their families.

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