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Operation Military Pride Supports Deployed Troops

By K.L. Vantran
National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2003 – Once the children are off to school, Arlyn McCoaughry logs onto the computer in her Arizona home and begins reading e- mails from service members deployed throughout the world.

As chairperson for Operation Military Pride, an organization that sends letters and care packages to troops deployed overseas, McCoaughry said the items most often requested include baby wipes, junk food, gum, foot powder, gel insoles, magazines and books.

"These are the kinds of things we take for granted, but they obviously need them," said McCoaughry, who started OMP in 1995.

While care packages often contain toiletries, non-perishable food and reading material, OMP has also sent DVD players, video games and consoles. "We try to get them what they ask for," said McCoaughry. "If by playing a video game for a few minutes it seems like they're home and we've raised morale, it's all worth it."

McCoaughry said when her husband was deployed to Kuwait somebody "adopted" him. She said running OMP is her way of "giving something back" to the military.

Although it's almost a full-time job, especially since September 2001, McCoaughry said she loves her work.

Around the holidays, people are really supportive and remember the troops, she said. "But year round, people tend to forget," she added. "They don't realize how low morale can get. I say 'wake up,' we need to support our troops all the time. We need to make sure the men and women are taken care of and know that people back home care about them."

The spouse of an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper at Fort Bragg, N.C., who asked that her name not be used, agreed. "You can't imagine what effect these packages have on morale," she said. "It's a bright spot in the day for them. There are a lot of single soldiers who don't get a lot of packages from home, so when they get one from Operation Military Pride it really lifts their spirits."

She said her husband's unit was in country only three days when it "lost a soldier." He recently sent her a letter and said that when his unit received packages, the soldiers "were like a bunch of kids at Christmas."

She lauded McCoaughry and the volunteers that keep OMP going. "She's a wonderful lady and it's a wonderful organization."

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