America Supports You: Ohio Group Supports Marines, Families
By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 6, 2007 Members of a troop-support group are using their experience as parents of servicemembers to offer support to other military families in Ohio.
The Marine Corps Family Support Community began two years ago when a group of parents in Columbus, Ohio, came together for mutual support as their children left for Marine boot camp around the same time.
“We were bursting with pride, but scared to death at the same time,” said Michele Gire, current secretary of the organization. “We didn’t know anything about the military.”
Since Marine bases are located primarily near the East or West Coast, she said, family members in the Mid-west don’t typically have places to turn when they have questions about military life.
Gire said that parents and spouses have gathered to support each other through the different phases of their Marine’s life. From boot camp to permanent duty stations to deployments, the group has learned about each stage together.
The non-profit group now offers their expanding knowledge base to others.
“We support anyone who supports military families,” she said. “This results in fewer worries for our Marines. If they know their families are being taken care of they can focus on their mission.”
Gire said her organization is constantly disseminating information about veteran’s benefits, boot camp, deployments and education benefits to family members.
“We have people that either know the answer or know where to get it,” she said.
Although the group first started as a support network for Ohio-based Marine families, they have since branched out to assist Marines and their families throughout the world.
Over the past two years the organization has sent more than 1,100 packages to troops overseas. In addition to sending those to individual Marines, the group also sends packages monthly to hospitals and public affairs offices in the war zone for distribution.
The Marine Corps Family Support Community is a member of America Supports You, the Defense Department’s program connecting grassroots groups with servicemembers and their families at home and abroad.
“We couldn’t have done any of this without being a member of America Supports You,” Gire said. Since they joined the DoD program, they have gotten thousands of visits to their Web site from across the nation resulting in more support for the men and women overseas.
People started writing to ask how they could help, Gire said. She started a letter writing campaign where supporters could “adopt” a Marine if they promised to write them on a weekly basis for the duration of their deployment. More than 150 individuals have signed up to be dedicated letter writers.
“Marines love getting letters,” she said. “Unfortunately they aren’t always able to write back, but it means so much to them to get letters of support from back home.”