Military News

Thursday, December 24, 2009

MILITARY CONTRACTS December 24, 2009

Atlantic Diving Supply, Inc.*, Virginia Beach, Va. (SPM8EG-08-D-0002); W.S. Darley & Co.*, Itasca, Ill. (SPM8EG-08-D-0003); and Safeware, Inc.*, Landover, Md. (SPM8EG-08-D-0004), are each being awarded a maximum $800,000,000 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for a tailored logistics support program for fire and emergency services for military installations located in the southeast region of the United States. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the first option year period. The original proposal was web solicited with 12 responses. The date of performance completion is Dec. 27, 2010. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, is the contracting activity.

Atlantic Diving Supply, Inc.*, Virginia Beach, Va. (SPM8EG-08-D-0005); W.S. Darley & Co.*, Itasca, Ill. (SPM8EG-08-D-0006); and Safeware, Inc.*, Landover, Md. (SPM8EG-08-D-0007), are each being awarded a maximum $800,000,000 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for a tailored logistics support program for fire and emergency services for military installations located in the northeast region of the United States. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the first option year period. The original proposal was web solicited with 12 responses. The date of performance completion is Dec. 27, 2010. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, is the contracting activity.

Atlantic Diving Supply, Inc.*, Virginia Beach, Va. (SPM8EG-08-D-0008); L.N. Curtis & Sons*, Oakland, Calif. (SPM8EG-08-D-0009); and W.S. Darley & Co.*, Itasca, Ill. (SPM8EG-08-D-0011), are each being awarded a maximum $800,000,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for a tailored logistics support program for fire and emergency services for military installations located in the capital/Great Lakes region of the United States. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the first option year period. The original proposal was web solicited with 12 responses. The date of performance completion is Dec. 27, 2010. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, is the contracting activity.

Atlantic Diving Supply, Inc.*, Virginia Beach, Va. (SPM8EG-08-D-0012); L.N. Curtis & Sons*, Oakland, Calif. (SPM8EG-08-D-0013); and W.S. Darley & Co.*, Itasca, Ill. (SPM8EG-08-D-0015), are each being awarded a maximum $800,000,000 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for a tailored logistics support program for fire and emergency services for military installations located in the Midwest region of the United States. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the first option year period. The original proposal was web solicited with 12 responses. The date of performance completion is Dec. 27, 2010. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, is the contracting activity.

Atlantic Diving Supply, Inc.*, Virginia Beach, Va. (SPM8EG-08-D-0016); W.S. Darley & Co.*, Itasca, Ill. (SPM8EG-08-D-0017); and The Mallory Co.*, Longview, Wash. (SPM8EG-08-D-0018), are each being awarded a maximum $800,000,000 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for a tailored logistics support program for fire and emergency services for military installations located in the western region of the United States. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the first option year period. The original proposal was web solicited with 12 responses. The date of performance completion is Dec. 27, 2010. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, Owego, N.Y., is being awarded a maximum $68,279,698 sole-source firm-fixed-price contract for receiver transmitters and processors. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Navy. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is December 2013. The Defense Logistics Agency, Philadelphia, is the contracting activity (N00019-06-C-0098).

General Electric Co., Aircraft Engine Business Group, Lynn, Mass., is being awarded a maximum $48,769,848 sole-source firm-fixed-price requirement-type contract for engines. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The original proposal was solicited through the DLA Internet Bid Board System with one response. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is July 29, 2010. The Defense Supply Center Richmond, Richmond, Va., is the contracting activity (SPM400-00-D9403).

EG&G Technical Services, Inc., Germantown, Md., is being awarded a maximum $29,189,192 fixed-price, incentive (firm target), award-fee hybrid contract for material distribution services. Other location of performance is Jacksonville, Fla. Using service is Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Distribution Center, New Cumberland, Pa. The original proposal was web solicited with eight responses. This is a five-year contract with one-year base and four one-year option periods. The date of performance completion is Dec. 31, 2014. The Defense Distribution Center, New Cumberland, Pa., is the contracting activity (SP3300-10-C-0006).

Ohkosh Corp, Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded a maximum $26,829,775 firm-fixed-price contract for axle assemblies. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Army. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Dec. 10, 2010. The Defense Logistics Agency Warren, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (SPRDL1-10-C-0018).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded a maximum $22,211,122 total set-aside, sole-source, undefinitized delivery-order contract for sustainment spare parts. Another location of performance is Detroit, Mich. Using service is Army. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Oct. 2, 2010. The Defense Logistics Agency Warren, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-D-0111-VD01).

Breeze-Eastern*, Union, N.J., is being awarded a maximum $11,049,860 sole-source, firm-fixed-price contract for cargo hooks. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Army. There were originally two proposals solicited with one response. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Dec. 31, 2012. The Defense Supply Center Richmond, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (SPRRA1-09-R-0025).

Hutchinson Industries, Trenton, N.J., is being awarded a maximum $8,255,629 sole-source, firm-fixed-price contract for wheel and tire assemblies. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Army. There were originally two proposals solicited with two responses. The date of performance completion is July 21, 2010. The Defense Logistics Agency Warren, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (SPRDL1-10-C-0029).

AIR FORCE

Boeing Co., Wichita Falls, Kan., was awarded a $750,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the Engineering Sustainment Program to provide engineering design, engineering support and technical support services for the modernization and sustainment of the B-52 weapon system. At this time, $22,012,244.85 has been obligated. 327 ACSG/PK, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity (FA8107-09-D-0001).

United Technologies Corp, Pratt & Whitney, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $95,409,543 modified contract for eight Lot 10 F119-PW-100 install engines for the F-22 weapon system. At this time, $25,000,000 has been obligated. 478 AESG/PK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8611-09-C-2901).

Northrop Grumman Space and Mission Systems, Clearfield, Utah, was awarded a $16,281,151 firm-fixed-price contract for the exercise of options 12 and13 for the Propulsion System Rocket Engine Life Extension Program on the ICBM prime integrated contract. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 00-ALC/526th ICBMSG/PKE, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity (F42610-98-C-0001).

Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $7,225,051 contract for modification to incorporate Engineering Change Proposal 2746 for the procurement of 35 wide angle raster heads up display units for Peace Onyx IV F-16 aircraft for the government of Turkey. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 312 AES/SYK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8615-07-C-6034).

BMC Software Distribution, Inc., Houston, Texas, was awarded a $5,642,770.14 firm-fixed contract to procure BMC software products, support and maintenance for the Combat Information Transport Systems program office. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 753 ELSG/PK, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (W91QUZ-07-A-0006).

32nd Brigade wrapping things up in Iraq

December 24, 2009: The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team is upbeat about spending the holidays on deployment in Iraq, in part because everyone knows what the new year will bring. "Right now we're in the midst of transferring our missions all over Iraq to our replacement unit from the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the Texas National Guard," explained Lt. Col. Tim Donovan, public affairs officer for the 32nd Brigade. "So as we complete that process, which is called 'relief in place,' we'll have a formal transfer of authority ceremony. At that point the mission is theirs and we're cleared to go home."

Donovan said the 32nd Brigade will move south into Kuwait to process out of theater and fly into Wisconsin sometime in January. The various units in the brigade will spend perhaps up to a week at Fort McCoy to de-mobilize, "to reverse the process that brought us onto active duty in February," Donovan said. "Then we're finished."

Even with that good news just around the corner, leaders in the brigade are taking steps to ensure Soldiers have a merry Christmas.

"Our commanders all over Iraq, wherever the 32nd Brigade Soldiers are working, are doing the best they can to create some kind of holiday atmosphere," Donovan said. "Here in Baghdad we're going to have a Christmas party on Christmas night at the chapel - just an informal way to get together with our Soldiers and the Soldiers who are replacing us, and celebrate Christmas as best we can a long way from home."

Donovan said the brigade is working hard to ensure that the 72nd Brigade is fully prepared to pick up where the 32nd will leave off.

"We're all in this to make a difference," he said. "We're thankful we made a difference here in Iraq."

Making a difference half a world away does not come without cost, Donovan noted, though he said the brigade is thankful it has not lost any Soldiers in Iraq due to hostile action. The cost comes in time lost with families, he explained, and time missed from civilian employment.

"We're going to give the people of Wisconsin their money's worth from our deployment," Donovan said, "by making sure that we left Iraq a better place than when we found it."

Study Takes Closer Look at Non-Combat Burn Hazards

Health.mil Staff

December 23, 2009 In a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, researchers from the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) in San Antonio analyzed non-combat burn epidemiology among active duty service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, using similar civilian burn data as context.

During the Vietnam War, more than half of the evacuated burn casualties were burned outside of combat-related activities. Initial reports from current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have revealed that more than one-third of burn injuries are classified as non-combat.

Between March 2003 and June 2008, the study examined data from burn causalities evacuated to the USAISR, which is the sole U.S. military burn center.

The data was then used to characterize deployed military burn risks in comparison to the risks observed in the U.S. civilian population, to determine which environment was more or less dangerous for unintentional burns. Civilian burn data was extracted from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and statistics published by the American Burn Association.

Of 688 burn causalities admitted to the USAIR during the study, 180 of the cases were considered non-combat. Waste burning, handling ammunition, and fueling generators were some of the major causes of burning incidents for those deployed.

Researchers concluded that the prevalence of non-combat burn injuries in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom was about 20 patients per 100,000 per year, compared to almost seven patients per 100,000 per year for civilians. Therefore, service members are almost three times more likely to suffer unintentional burning than a similar civilian cohort. The increased risk was found to be proportionately mitigated by the specific requirements of their environment.

The most commonly burned body area for service members were the hands, totaling 67 percent of the casualties, significantly more than the civilian burn population. Wearing gloves to protect from burns to the hands and developing other fire safety procedures will potentially reduce the number of non-combat burning incidents in military operations.

Minnesotans Pack Cookies for Deployed Soldiers


By Army Sgt. Benjamin R. Kibbey
Special to American Forces Press Service

Dec. 24, 2009 - Mention "Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar" around a native Minnesotan in Iraq, and you're almost guaranteed a glazed-eyed expression and rambling murmurs of longing. Say "10,000 cookies" right after, and you might need to find them a chair. Yet, that's the number of cookies volunteers from several charitable and patriotic organizations – and many Sweet Martha's employees – gathered Dec. 19 to pack up and send to troops deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom with the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Infantry Division.

As part of the event, soldiers here hopped on Skype and got a chance to ogle the buckets as they were being prepared.

Volunteers from all over participated on the Minnesota side. Cadets from St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, Minn. – where the event was held – pitched in and even added notes to each package for the soldiers.

Members of the Minnesota Patriot Guard – the Minnesota-based arm of the Patriot Guard Riders, who attend funerals of servicemembers – shared table space with Blue Star Moms, a service organization of military mothers. They were joined by local members of the Vietnams Veterans Association and local exchange clubs.

Even board member Bill Popp of the National Basketball Association's Minnesota Timberwolves showed up to support the troops and say a few words over Skype.

Army Spc. LaFena Washington, a human resources specialist from Minnetonka, Minn., said she was especially touched by the singing and guitar playing of Joshua Revak, himself a veteran of recent conflicts. Revak serenaded several of the soldiers over Skype, and spent a considerable amount of time at the Skype terminal chatting with and singing to them.

It was the first time Washington had ever used Skype, she said. That Saturday night, if not for a friend encouraging her to come participate, otherwise would have been a movie and popcorn night.

"I'm so glad I did this," she said after passing the headset on to the next soldier. "It was worth missing movie night. The fact they had a veteran playing for us really stood out, and that people took time out to come over and talk to us. I was really impressed."

Army Staff Sgt. Paul Gudding, who works in the 34th Infantry Division's personnel section, followed Washington.

"It was just nice to see that a bunch of people got on," said the Moorhead, Minn. native. "It was a little hometown experience."

Organizer Brad Walton said the event carried on a tradition started in 2006 when a Marine returning soon to Iraq called in to his radio show on WCCO in Minneapolis. When Walton asked him what he could do to help the troops, the Marine simply replied, "Chocolate chip cookies."

Walton immediately thought of Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar, and owner Martha Rossini-Olson jumped at the idea, Walton said.

That first batch saw 10,000 cookies heading out to the troops, and now another 10,000 are shipping overseas.

"About a month ago, as I thought of you and the Red Bulls and all the troops, I reflected back to 2006 and the cookies for the troops," Walton wrote in an e-mail to Army Chaplain (Lt. Col) John Morris, 34th Infantry Division chaplain, in early December. "I called Martha Rossini of Sweet Martha fame and asked her if she was once again up for doing what we did with the Blue Star Moms and all back in 2006."

Of course, her enthusiasm for the idea was as great in 2009 as in 2006. They would even throw in an added bonus, Walton noted in the e-mail: milk.

Gudding was happy at the idea of the milk when volunteers showed it off to him over Skype. "It'll be nice to have some real milk," he said.

In the end, it comes down to basic gratitude, on both ends.

"We are all so indebted to all of you for your service," Walton said, with Rossini-Olson nodding agreement next to him. "It's just our way of saying thank you."

On the other end, once those cookies have reached the troops, the volunteers and organizers are sure to have that thank you returned to them, perhaps not 10,000 times in words, but certainly in 10,000 moments of enjoyment.

(Army Sgt. Benjamin R. Kibbey serves in Multinational Division South.)

Airmen, 'Soldier Santas' Conduct Toy Drop



By Air Force Capt. Lauri Turpin
Special to American Forces Press Service

Dec. 24, 2009 - You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. But on Dec. 6, it was not a team of reindeer, but Air Force Maj. Jeff Dasher, a navigator in the 95th Airlift Squadron here, who guided the mission for the 440th Airlift Wing's C-130 Hercules that flew a group of "Soldier Santas" across the morning sky. One might say he was born for this mission.

"It's the name," Dasher said with a chuckle. "I had to be on this flight."

His flight was part of the 12th annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop, a program sponsored by Fort Bragg, N.C., and Pope Air Force Base officials providing toys to needy children in the Fayetteville, N.C., area. The toys, donated by the participating servicemembers, are delivered to children in time for Christmas.

More than 1,200 Army paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division and 18th Airborne Corps suited up in their jump gear to be a part of the charity event, which brought participants from as far away as Germany.

Air Force Col. Merle Hart, 440th Airlift Wing commander, greeted the paratroopers as they checked their gear and marched toward the flightline to board Dasher's C-130.

"I'm proud that the 440th can be a part of this operation," Hart said. "This is a great outreach that our soldiers can provide and a token of our support to the children of other military members and the local community."

This year, the 440th Airlift Wing, in conjunction with the Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte, N.C., and the Air Force Reserve's 910th Airlift Wing from Youngstown, Ohio, provided airlift for the day's event.

Since its inception 12 years ago, the program has become so popular that Army paratroopers have to win a lottery to participate. To enter the lottery, each paratrooper must buy a toy for one of the needy area children. Though only 1,200 lucky winners actually jump, far more choose to participate and bring donated gifts to Fort Bragg.

For more than 1,000 children, these soldiers and airmen flew in a promise to them that they would have a very merry Christmas.

"They have a massive wrapping session," said Air Force Lt. Col. William Whittenberger, 440th Operations Group commander. "A lot of the wives and families help out. It becomes a big party."

Whittenberger was mission commander for this year's Toy Drop and also flew one of the C-130s.

"We've got 1,200 troops to drop in a fairly short time frame, so we're doing a parallel running course that's 17 miles long, and it is about 12 minutes from takeoff to drop," he said. "Our goal is five minutes between each air frame."

For Army Pfc. Caleb Wood, a 20-year-old soldier stationed at Fort Bragg, it would be only his sixth jump. Along with other members of his chalk, Wood waited in the passenger terminal shelter on the Pope flightline as other soldiers prepared their gear.

"It's my first year doing this," Wood said. "I bought a tricycle to support the event."

As Wood stood in line for his turn, Army 1st Lt. Judith Wood from 126th Transportation Company, 82nd Sustainment Brigade, waited for her turn to climb inside the fuselage of a C-130 to jump.

"I enjoy this because it's a rush, and it's great for the kids," she said. "I hope I'm here again next year. They tell you not to look down, but when you're there, you can't help it. We ask ourselves why we're doing this, but when we jump, it's all worth it."

Seated on the bleachers set out in the red sand against the stark winter-blue sky, family members waited alongside the Sicily Drop Zone on the far side of Fort Bragg for their loved ones. As the C-130 approached, they held up their hands to shield their eyes against the glare of the sun. The plane flew in smoothly, and one by one, the dark silhouettes of the soldiers dipped out of the plane and snapped straight, as one after another their parachutes ballooned into perfect mushrooms.

The line of parachutes stretched along the field as those soldiers who had already completed their flight marched in formation past the bleachers.

Meghan Scott and her husband, Army Capt. Andrew Scott of the Air Defense Battalion, donated a Candyland game.

"[My husband] loves to jump, and it's a great way to help out," she said. "We're very fortunate to live the way we do, so this is just a small way to give back."

(Air Force Capt. Lauri Turpin serves with the 440th Airlift Wing.)

USO Offers Respite From Traveling Frenzy



By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Dec. 24, 2009 - As the rest of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport bustled with holiday travelers yesterday, its USO Lounge offered military travelers -- many returning home from overseas deployments -- a welcome sanctuary of solace. The lounge is conveniently positioned near the international departure gates on the airport's lower level. Yet, to the dozens of servicemembers who took refuge here yesterday afternoon, it felt a world away from the frenzied holiday travelers, beeping airport carts and blaring overhead speaker announcements.

Marine Corps Gunnery Sgts. Nao Lewis and Rachel Gause, both transiting home from Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, were relieved to arrive at the festively decorated lounge shortly after their Air Mobility Command charter flight landed at 1 a.m.

They'd already been traveling for days; their flight from Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan was delayed after a record-breaking snowfall brought East Coast airports to a standstill. Now, all that stood between them and their families at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was a 15-hour layover before a short connecting flight.

Lewis couldn't think of any place better to wile away than hours than at the USO.

"This is a nice, quite place, where they let you take a load off your feet," he said, looking up from his laptop computer as he took advantage of the USO's free Wi-Fi service. "It's quiet here. It's a place you can feel comfortable and know your stuff is safe."

Three paid staffers, reinforced by an army of 230 volunteers, keep the lounge bustling from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and through the night whenever an Air Mobility Command flight arrives in the late or early-morning hours.

When a severe snowstorm hit during the past weekend, the lounge went into 24/7 operations, using every bit of floor space to accommodate stranded military travelers. The airport management offered up additional space, and volunteers poured into the facility to pitch in any way they could.

Airman Ronald Carr, who just finished Air Force basic training, grew up in a military family that taught him to appreciate the USO.

"It's good to know that this is basically an all-volunteer operation, with a volunteer staff and donations that keep it running," he said. "It makes me feel good about my service, knowing that people care about what I do."

Army Pfc. Taylor Walther, a California National Guardsman returning home for a holiday break from training at Fort Eustis, Va., said he's already had the chance to check out several USO facilities, and never walks away disappointed.

"They're all good. When you go there, they're all friendly, they all tell you to help yourself and make yourself at home," he said.

"Home" is exactly how Mississippi Army National Guardsman Jamie Peters, returning home via BWI airport from a deployment in Afghanistan, said he feels when he steps foot into a USO facility.

"They treat you just like family when you come in," he said. "They give you a place to watch TV, use the wireless or just relax. They're really a blessing to us."

"When you go into a USO, you get a welcoming sense," said Army Spc. Gerald Reed, an Army reservist from Upper Marlboro, Md., traveling with his 2-year-old daughter, Chris, to spend the holidays in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

"It's a friendly environment, staffed by overall, good people."

Among them is Geraldine Verrier, who started volunteering at the Baltimore USO when her Army Reserve husband deployed to Yemen shortly after 9/11. Eight years later, she still spends one morning each week at the lounge, greeting military travelers and showing them amenities that include a baggage storage room, reclining lounge chairs, an X-box video game system and a children's room.

"We're here to provide them some peace and tranquility, and to make sure they know someone cares about them and wants to help make them comfortable," Verrier said. "It can be a small thing – even just making a cup of coffee for them. But you never really know how much that cup of coffee might mean to them."

Twyla Hirrilinger has spent a lifetime of volunteer service, but said she'd be pressed to find a more fulfilling way to give of her time, or to a more appreciative group to serve.

"When [the troops] come in here, they thank me just for being there. It gives you chills," she said. "I just love doing this. Being here makes me feel happy."

TRICARE Dental Offers Options to Repair Tooth Loss

December 24, 2009: Tooth loss can be a difficult and sometimes embarrassing condition. Quality of life, confidence or daily functioning can be affected by the loss of permanent teeth. TRICARE wants beneficiaries to know that conventional crown and bridge treatment and dentures aren’t the only options to address tooth loss. Dental implants are an option for medically qualified candidates. A thorough dental evaluation is required to determine whether a patient is a good candidate for dental implants. Good candidates for a dental implant are non-smokers with healthy gums and adequate bone remaining in the area where the implant will be placed.

A dental implant is a replacement for the root portion of a natural tooth and is surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw, below the gum line. After a healing period, the implant supports a crown or bridge, or secures a denture firmly in place.

Beneficiaries considering dental implants should speak with their dentist about the total cost of the procedure to determine their out-of-pocket expenses. On average, dental implants cost approximately $1,500 to $3,500 per tooth replacement. Beneficiaries should plan ahead to properly budget their annual dental benefit.

To learn more about TRICARE’s dental benefits visit http://www.tricare.mil/dental.

Civilians Provide Holiday Cheer to Troops, Families

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Dec. 24, 2009 - Servicemembers and their families continue to enjoy tremendous support from American civilians, but at no time of the year is that support greater than during the holidays. "We learn of citizens' efforts to support our troops every year, but this year there seems to be a real outpouring of support from not only citizens and nonprofit organizations, but also businesses," said Adrien Starks, chief of the community relations civic outreach team for the office of the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. "I don't think people have any idea about the amount of support the American people are giving our troops."

Operation Gratitude, with donations from American Veterans Traveling Tribute and Sands Resorts, was able to send special care packages to two lucky servicemembers. The packages were sent in honor of the organization reaching its 500,000th package milestone.

American Veterans Traveling Tribute is a veteran-owned project that provides communities with a forum to "Honor-Respect-Remember" those who have given their lives for their country.

Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon, in cooperation with shipping company DGL, has shipped 500 live Christmas trees to troops in the Middle East. Unilever employees also have shown incredible support for the troops by providing warehouse space for packaging, shipping and mailing thousands of care packages.

Another organization, Trees for Troops, also is sending live trees to more than 50 military facilities in the United States and overseas. The organization teamed up with FedEx and the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation to send the 15,000 live trees.

"FedEx and its team members are pleased to support Trees for Troops, delivering holiday cheer to military men, women and families," Douglas G. Duncan, president and CEO of FedEx Freight, said in a news release. "Now in its fifth year, this program provides us the opportunity to say thanks to those who serve our country in the Armed Forces."

Operation MOMs Cookies is sending a "Box of Home" to nearly 1,500 troops this holiday season. Each box will contain a miniature, decorated Christmas tree, a stocking handcrafted by volunteers, an American flag and items requested by the servicemember or their families.

"This year's box also includes a unique gift," Debbie Trippiedi, founder of Operation MOMs Cookies, said in a news release. The gift is the CD, 'Not Alone,' an original country rock ballad written by Brent James and Kevin Wright and recorded by Righteous Hillbillies for inclusion in the 2009 Box of Home.

Because keeping families connected is so important, especially during the holiday season, Operation Homelink and Raytheon presented 150 refurbished computers with webcams to Fort Benning and Georgia National Guard families on Dec. 12.

"Having this computer is a great comfort," Grace Melendrez, wife of William Melendrez, told Operation Uplink officials when the computers were distributed. "This is our first Christmas apart, so it will be hard. His being able to see my 3-year-old son on Christmas will make all the difference in the world."

Melendrez's husband is deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team.

Operation Homefront has teamed with retailers to provide support to many servicemembers and their families this holiday season.

A partnership with Dollar Tree resulted in about $6 million worth of customer-donated toys for military children across the United States.

A $1.1 million donation from Wal-Mart helped to provide toys and books for military kids, $1,000 shopping events for 50 military families nationwide and gift cards for families, which were distributed through local Operation Homefront chapters. Those caring for wounded warriors received special gift kits.

These programs are a sampling of the support Operation Homefront provides to servicemembers and their families.

Headed up by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter John Ondrasik of "Five for Fighting" fame, a group of comedians gave their time to create the third edition of "CD for the Troops" project, "Stand Up For Troops." The project is the result of a partnership between Ondrasik, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, Aware Records and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

"This year we've gone for laughs with bits from world class comics -- Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Jeff Foxworthy, Dana Carvey, Adam Sandler, Dennis Miller, and more," Ondrasik said.

All active duty military members and veterans with valid military identification can log on to AAFES.com and download the comedy routines as well as an Ondrasik song from the award-winning documentary "Brothers at War."

The previous two CDs have music selections from various artists.

"Military families are being embraced more and more by our communities," Starks said. "Based on the anecdotal stories I hear from the families, the acts of kindness couldn't come at more opportune times. Homes are being saved, children are being reminded that their deployed parent still loves them, and spouses back home are being supported in their communities."

Highly decorated Army Colonel dies in Texas

WACO, Texas – A man considered to be the country's most decorated soldier has died.

Oak Crest Funeral Home in Waco, Texas, says retired Col. Robert Lewis Howard died Wednesday. He was 70. The funeral home obituary said that at the time of his death he was the most decorated American soldier.

Howard served in the Army from 1956 to 1992. He was nominated three times for the Medal of Honor, the nation's most prestigious award for combat veterans. He was awarded it once, for his bravery in Vietnam during a mission to rescue a missing soldier in enemy territory.

He was wounded 14 times in Vietnam and was awarded eight Purple Hearts.

Howard will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. No date has been set.

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