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During the holidays, and for that matter the rest of the year, the military community can use our help. Please donate to one or more of the below causes!


United Service Organizations (www.uso.org) provides Internet-equipped military lounges and celebrity entertainment tours inspired by the late Bob Hope. The group also creates boxes of requested items like sunscreen and travel-sized toiletries (www.usocares.org). Funds also go toward its Operation Phone Home (800-876-7469), a program that provides troops with international phone cards to keep in touch with loved ones back home.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (www.vfw.org) provides support, such as counseling and financial help, through its Military Assistance Program. Large groups can participate in Adopt-a-Unit, a project that allows communities to create goody packages to send to hometown troop members and their families. The organization also has an Emergency Relief Fund to deal with unexpected domestic disasters of troops and their families. "We stepped in to help one girl whose home burned down in October, the night before she was to deploy," says Bud Haney, director of the Military Assistance Program. The VFW also helps families and service members communicate via its international calling card program, Operation Uplink (www.operationuplink.org).

Fisher House (www.fisherhouse.org), an organization based in Rockville, Md., operates "comfort homes," inexpensive lodging on the grounds of 23 military and Veterans Administration medical centers for the families of injured service members. "Travel, hotels, food, lost pay, it all adds up," says Jerry Newberry, VFW director of communications. Donations can be designated to sponsor families or to pay for a new facility under construction at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., which currently houses most soldiers injured in Iraq.

Gift of Groceries allows donors to buy gift certificates that can be redeemed by troops' families at military commissaries. The Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House, and the USO sponsor the program; donations are accepted via www.commissaries.com.

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. (www.taps.org) provides resources to family members and friends coping with the loss of a service member. Donations help underwrite an annual grief counseling camp, a toll-free hotline, support-group meetings, and a mentor program that allows grieving families to connect with other families which have lost relatives.

Operation Hero Miles (www.heromiles.org) allows Americans to donate frequent-flier miles on major airlines to cover the domestic-travel expenses of service members on voluntary leave. Although Congress recently appropriated $55 million to cover this growing expense, the funds won't be available for this holiday season and won't last more than a handful of months.

I'd also like to throw in www.toysfortots.org. The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.


1. American Legion (http://www.legion.org/ and http://www.legion.org/support/?sect...ent=support_fsn)

2. Injured Marine Semper Fi (http://www.semperfifund.org/)

Fayetteville (NC) Observer
November 17, 2004

Hurt Troops Need Clothes, Toiletries

By Justin Willett, Staff writer

LANDSTUHL, Germany - When wounded troops arrive at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center they often are wearing the same clothes they were wearing when they were injured; usually a dirty desert camouflage uniform, sometimes just a pair of boxer shorts.

The troops receive a $250 voucher from the Department of Defense.

But they are often unable to make it to the nearest Army and Air Force
Exchange Services store at Ramstein Air Base for clothes or toiletries.

That's where Landstuhl's Pastoral Services Department comes in.
Pastoral services runs the Chaplain's Closet, a tiny building packed full of
donated clothes, toiletries, books, movies and other personal items.

Lt. Col. Robert Hicks is a chaplain with the Alabama Air Guard. He works
with Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force chaplains on getting the troops what they need.

This weekend, volunteers delivered wheelchairs full of items to hundreds of
troops who arrived from Fallujah in the past week.

Senior Airman Karly Vogel, who is in the Minnesota Air Guard and is a
chaplain's assistant at Landstuhl said the biggest need right now is large
and extra-large sweatpants and shirts for Germany's cold weather.

"We rely on donations." she said. "There's so many troops that come through here, we have to work quick to get them what they need."

Col. Eric Holmstrom is an Army reservist who was activated for one year and made chief of pastoral services at Landstuhl.

He said the hospital is a good place to minister, but there are always

"We always have patients," he said. "And we always have a need."

Holmstrom said men's shoes sizes nine to 12 are in high demand as is cash.

Pastoral services only accepts new items. Ongoing needs at the Chaplain's
Closet include: men's shoes sizes nine to 12, women's shoes size six to
nine, men's and women's winter coats sizes medium through extra-large, and backpacks, gym bags and small suitcases.

Send checks to:

USAREUR Chaplains Fund

Commander, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

Attention: MCEUL-CH/Chaplains Office

CMR 402 APO AE09180