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Volunteers Reach Out to Military Families

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2009 – An army of volunteers wrote letters of thanks and assembled care packages for delivery to military families during Operation Appreciation, held Nov. 11 at George Washington University here.

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Karen Francis, an Army wife and Blue Star Families volunteer, prepares a care package at Operation Appreciation at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., 2009, Veterans Day. DoD photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The Veterans Day event was sponsored by military-support organization Blue Star Families and by ServiceNation, a national campaign that encourages volunteer service, in partnership with Target and the Public Broadcasting Service.

Volunteers in the university’s Marvin Center packed about 500 care packages containing games, lip balm, popcorn, movies, digital cameras and key chains, said Claire Woodward, executive director for Blue Star Families. Other volunteers, she said, wrote letters and thank you notes to military families.

The packages and notes, Woodward said, will be distributed among military families with the Kansas Air National Guard; at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.; and at Little Creek Navy Base, Va.

“Military families are very proud of their service,” Woodward said, noting that such events help to make servicemembers and military families feel appreciated.

Bank of America also partners with ServiceNation to support servicemembers, veterans and their families, said former Army captain Babette Oltmanns, now a senior vice president at the bank’s corporate headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.

“As a veteran, I understand the sacrifices that military and family members make,” Oltmanns said as she watched volunteers from her company writing thank you letters to troops and their families. “It is so critical that the family members be recognized for the sacrifices that they make to support our servicemembers.”

Bank of America also supports the hiring of military veterans, with a special focus on recruiting wounded warriors, Oltmanns said.

Constance A. Burns, a Blue Star Families volunteer and president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit National Association of American Veterans Inc., wrote letters to military families.

“Today is a day that we give thanks to them, and we’re reaching out, letting them know that America cares about them,” Burns said.

Some of the letters, Burns said, are going to grieving families at Fort Hood, Texas, who suffered from the Nov. 5 shootings there. “We’re trying to give support, and we’re trying to say, ‘We love you and we care about you,’” Burns said.

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Related Sites:
ServiceNation
Blue Star Families

Click photo for screen-resolution imageMonica Cardoza, Bank of America manager at the U.S. State Department facility; and Tony Cardoza, manager of the Bank of America facility at the Pentagon, write letters of thanks to servicemembers and their families during Operation Appreciation at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Nov. 11, 2009. DoD photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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