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America Supports You: Musician Inspired to Support Troops

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2005 – Inspired by lonely childhood holidays, the daughter of a former airman has written a song that deployed troops will hear this holiday season, thanks to a grassroots partner in the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program.

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The band Volatile Baby from Charlotte, N.C., is sending its song "Christmas Without You" to 500 troops serving overseas. Several companies sponsored the production of the CDs, and Operation Gratitude, a California-based troop-support organization, is including the CDs in its holiday care packages. The band members' images appear on the CD package. They are, from left, Gina Stewart, Brenda Gambill and Allison Modafferi. Courtesy photo

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

Gina Stewart of the Charlotte, N.C., band Volatile Baby, describes her song - "Christmas Without You" -- as a traditional, harmonized country arrangement.

"The message is basically 'I really miss you, I know that you're gone for a good reason, and it's not that I don't understand, but it's a real pain to be standing under the mistletoe alone,'" she said.

Stewart said she spent many "fatherless" Christmases while her father served overseas during his 25-year Air Force career. Her intent in getting the song to troops overseas is to keep the servicemembers from feeling that same sense of longing she felt as a child.

"I know from growing up in that environment what a lonely time (the holidays) can be," she said.

The singer-songwriter had hoped to get a copy of the song to all servicemembers away from home this holiday season, she said. Her friend, Julie Boles, also from a military family, understood Stewart's dream. But the window to accomplish their goal was too short to accomplish this year, Stewart said.

Boles did, however, find several companies that, on short notice, were able to co-sponsor the production of 500 CDs. "At this point, we still had no idea how we would get the CD to the troops," Boles said.

When she contacted Defense Department agencies looking for help shipping the CDs, she was directed to the America Supports You Web site at www.americasupportsyou.mil. There, she connected with Carolyn Blashek, founder of a troop-support organization called Operation Gratitude. Blashek's group has included the 500 CDs in care packages it assembled and sent to deployed forces.

"This, in particular, is a very difficult time of year to be away from loved ones or even just away from home," Blashek said. "Receiving these expressions of appreciation that are clearly filled with a lot of love and respect, I think, just provide that feeling of home."

Stewart and Boles are planning to join forces with Operation Gratitude and another support organization, 4 The Troops, to send 47,000 CDs of "Christmas Without You" to troops overseas for the 2006 holiday season, Stewart said.

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Related Sites:
"Christmas Without You"
Operation Gratitude
4 The Troops
America Supports You

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