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Gates Thanks Troop-Support Groups at Summit

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2008 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today recognized the volunteers who selflessly support the nation’s servicemembers with care packages and letters, scholarships and myriad other gestures.

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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates thanks the nearly 200 representatives of 113 troop-support groups gathered at the Pentagon on Jan. 25, 2008, for the third annual America Support You Summit. Gates fielded questions from the audience before concluding his appearance. Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. Quigley

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“For those whose lives you have touched, every gesture, no matter how small, has a tangible impact,” Gates said during the third annual America Supports You National Summit at the Pentagon. “Your work plays a vital role in uplifting sprits in the face of dangers and stresses on the battlefield and at home.”

America Supports You is a Defense Department program that connects citizens, groups and companies with troops and their families serving at home and abroad. The program is affiliated with almost 350 troop-support groups.

Gates acknowledged that the nearly 113 troop-support groups represented at the summit don’t do what they do for recognition or the opportunities their efforts may garner them.

“You do it because you feel, like I do, a deep pride in a new generation of Americans who, when faced with extraordinary challenges, have answered a call to duty, honor, and country,” Gates said.

The defense secretary recounted some of his experiences since he assumed his position in December 2007, including the opportunities he’s had to travel the world to meet with men and women in uniform. From privates to four-star generals and family members, Gates said he’s both honored to serve alongside them and humbled by their “extraordinary sense of duty.”

Gates said America owes these men and women a great debt of gratitude, and he feels the nation’s citizens have stepped forward to support their troops, which did not always happen in the past during controversial conflicts. From simple verbal appreciation to standing ovations in airport terminals, the gratitude is heartfelt and bridges any political divide.

“While we are all united in our admiration of those who have volunteered to serve our nation during these challenging times, it takes a special kind of person to devote part of their life to actively making the lives of our troops better, both during their deployments and when they get back,” Gates said. “So from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of all our men and women in uniform and their families, thank you for everything you have done and will continue to do in the future.”

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America Supports You

Click photo for screen-resolution imageSecretary of Defense Robert M. Gates addressed the nearly 200 representatives of 113 troop-support groups at the Pentagon on Jan. 25, 2008, for the third annual America Support You Summit. Gates thanked the group for its collective support of servicemembers before fielding a few questions. Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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