Stolen Artifacts Returned To Iraq From Syria

April 30, 2008

Yesterday, workers at Iraq’s National Museum received more than 700 antiquities, which had been stolen from the museum during the chaotic times following the fall of Baghdad, at the beginning of the Iraq war five years ago. Included in the returned artifacts were things such as golden necklaces, daggers, clay statues, pots, among other things. The items were displayed briefly during a ceremony that was attended by Syrian and Iraqi officials. Syrian authorities had seized the items from traffickers over the past 5 years. Arrangements were then made to hand them back to Iraqi officials last week in Damascus. Mohammad Abbas al-Oreibi, the Iraqi acting state minister of tourism and archeology, was instrumental in negotiations with Syria. He plans to visit Jordan soon, in an attempt to persuade authorities there to turn over more than 150 items that they’ve seized from traffickers as well.

“This was a positive initiative taken by Syria, and we wish the same initiative to be taken by all neighboring countries,” he said. “The treasures contain very important and valuable pieces.”

After the ouster of Saddam and his government officials in April 2003, looting broke out in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. Museums were ransacked and thousands of items were stolen. The collections in the museums told the story of around 7,000 years of civilization in the Mesopotamia, including ancient Babylonia, Sumeria and Assyria. It’s been a struggle over the past 5 years for Iraqi and other world culture officials to recover the stolen items, with little success being seen. There are still approximately 3,000-7,000 pieces that are believed to be missing. In that number, approximately 40-50 are thought to be of great historic importance. According to Dr. Muna Hassan, the leader of the committee that is working to restore the artifacts, while artifacts have been recovered in the past, the ones that Syria returned are the largest quantity. It is hoped that other countries will follow Syria’s lead. According to Syrian authorities, some of the antiquities traffickers have been arrested.

The items recovered in Syria were packed into 17 boxes and shipped back to Baghdad by plane. While an exact figure of their worth was not given, Hassan did say that the items collectively were worth millions of dollars. Currently negotiations are underway with several other countries, including United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Italy for the return of more of the stolen antiquities.

Like museums here in the United States, the National Museum of Iraq is an important reminder to it’s citizens of their cultural heritage. At this time, the museum remains closed to the public, because of continued violence in the area, lack of security and poor condition of the site. Hopefully, as security continues to increase in Baghdad, the museum will eventually be able to be reopened, so that Iraqi citizens and tourists alike, can enjoy the history within it’s walls.

Boston Globe

Honoring Matt Maupin

April 29, 2008

Sunday, thousands of people descended upon the Cincinatti, Ohio area to pay their respects and to honor an American Hero …. SSG Matt Maupin, as a memorial service was held at the Great American Ball Park. Military members and supporters from all across the United States attended the services honoring Matt.

As our readers know, on April 9, 2004 the convoy then PFC Maupin was in near Baghdad was attacked and Matt was captured. A short time later, Al-Jazeera aired a tape showing Matt being held captive, surrounded by masked men holding automatic rifles. Matt’s family never gave up hope that he would be found and Matt’s hometown rallied around Matt’s parents, Keith and Carolyn Maupin and turned their community into a sea of yellow ribbons. After his capture, Matt’s parents started the Yellow Ribbon Support Center, in support of deployed US Troops. They’ve vowed that their work will continue, in Matt’s honor.

Sunday, Matt’s flag-draped coffin was on a platform in the area of the pitcher’s mound at the stadium. On the field were members of the 338th Army band and about 100 family members, military representatives and other dignitaries. The crowd of supporters occupied the lower portion of the baseball staduim, behind home plate and stretching from first base to third base.

SSG Maupin is a Hero and one who deserves to be honored and remembered. My heart goes out to his family, who never gave up hope over the past 4 years, that somehow Matt would be found alive. While that hope wasn’t realized, his family can finally have closure in knowing that their son, their Hero is finally home and being honored in the way that he deserves. Rest in Peace Matt, Welcome Home and thank you, brave warrior for your service and sacrifice.


Toasting The Troops

April 28, 2008

Working in conjunction with the USO, Jack Daniel’s Distillery hosted a “Toast To The Troops” care package stuffing party, at Quantico, on April 19th. More than 200 volunteers were on hand to join in the event. By the time they were finished, more than 10,000 care packages were ready to be sent to the Troops. This isn’t the first such event that has paired the USO and Jack Daniels.

“We’ve done six of these parties at bases throughout the country,” said Elizabeth Conway, Jack Daniel’s public relations manager. “We include in each care package, a personalized post card with a little message to the Troops that we call a “Toast to the Troops.”

One participant in the event, Bill Stang is a World War II veteran. He said that he and the Troops who served with him at Guadalcanal, when they were serving. He said that they ran out of everything, whle they were serving there. He feels strongly that today’s soldiers appreciate each box they get, though he added, that they might just be a bit disappointed.

“On the island I was on, we’d have been too glad to have one of those things, a little package like that,” Stang said.

“Each time they open one of those packages, they’re going to look for a little bottle of Jack Daniel’s, but it’s not going to be there!” he said with a laugh.

Another former Soldier, participating in the event was former Army Sgt. Michael Cain who lost his right leg below the knee, when his vehicle hit an anti-tank mine in 2003. He said that while the Troops receiving the packages might be disappointed that there wasn’t Jack Daniels inside, they would appreciate what they do get, because everything in them is something that they can use.

Helping stuff the packages, was country music star, Craig Morgan, himself an Army veteran, who served 11 years active duty and another 6 years reserve. Morgan helped pack the boxes, before hitting the stage to perform. He was touched by the stories he was told, by the wounded warriors who had volunteered their time to help stuff care packages.

“I have a great deal of respect for what the men and women in the armed services are going through these days,” Morgan said. “I’m humbled by their presence and the pride that they take and their ability to carry on as if nothing’s happened. I don’t know how you can talk to these guys and not be motivated to do more.”

Morgan has participated in all 6 of the USO-Jack Daniel’s events in the past. Just like the other volunteers, he’s pitched right in, making sure packages were stuffed and ready to be mailed, before getting up on stage to entertain the crowds.

It’s great to hear of major corporations throughout the country, going out of their way to support our Troops in a tangible manner, such as this, not just once but six times so far. It’s also nice to see celebrities such as Craig Morgan putting for his time and effort to take part in these events. Many celebrities should look at te example set by Craig Morgan, Toby Keith and others and perhaps follow their lead.

Defense Link

New Bank Opens in Baghdad

April 27, 2008

Here in the United States, it’s commonplace to see a bank on almost every street in the business districts. That hasn’t been the case in Baghdad, where, until recently it would have been too dangerous to do so. A bank would have just been an invitation to the insurgents to cause trouble and manipulate the populace.

On April 20th, in the Doura district of Baghdad, excited residents, along with Iraqi security forces and Multinational Division Baghdad Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment attached to the 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, gathered around a doorway that had been secured by a strand of ribbon. Residents were seeing tangible proof that economic resurgence in the area of the city they live in, was in fact true. Suddenly, the ribbon was snipped and the crowed of citizens began filing inside to utilize the services of the new bank.

“Today is a historic day for us,” said Zuhair al-Jumaily, the banks’ manager. “We are pleased to reopen this branch and provide services to the residents of Doura.”

As the eager citizens filed into the bank, tellers were already in place and ready to begin their days work. Though this marked a definitive step in the revitalization of the area, no one was taking any chances and tight security was present.

“In the past, Doura’s situation was very bad,” Jumaily said. “Today the area is safe and secure. The bank will serve a large number of residents, and we are very pleased with the efforts of the coalition forces.”

According to Army Captain Daryl Carter, commander of 10th Mountain Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, as little as 8 months ago, the area had a deserted and desolate feel. Residents avoided coming outside unless absolutely necessary, due to insurgent activity. Now businesses have opened in the market section and are thriving. The area is now teeming with people.

The opening of the bank is a result of the hard work of Coalition Forces and Iraqi Security Forces working side by side. The cooperation of the citizens of the area is another reason that things such as the opening of businesses and the bank are now taking place.

“It was a pretty monumental event,” said Army 1st Lt. Justin Chabalko, a mortar platoon leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment. “Since security has been good, there has been a lot of progress in the area.” The bank’s re-opening shows there is stability in the region and also that the government can provide for its people.”

This is great news for the people of the neighborhood, as well as for our Troops. It’s yet another piece of evidence showing that the job our Troops are doing is having the desired effect; making things safer and more secure for the Iraqi people.


Bring On The Bacon!

April 25, 2008

One thing that we were told, when I was participating actively in Troop Support organizations, was that because our Troops were deployed to Muslim countries, that we should never send pork products. We had it down to an art and were able to send our Troops things that they liked, without violating that rule. On some of the larger FOBs in Iraq and Afghanistan, pork products are served in the chow halls or DEFACs. However, at many of the smaller FOBs and outposts, Troops may go days or even weeks without tasting anything pork related. For many of us, bacon is a staple of our diets and to think that we couldn’t have bacon along with our eggs for breakfast in the morning is something that we don’t even want to consider. For our Troops who are deployed though, that’s often a reality. A Seattle-based company though, has come up with something that just might help those Troops, who are unable to get their “bacon fixes” to make it through those long deployments and keep them from going into bacon withdrawal.

A few months ago, a Marine who was deployed to al Anbar province in Iraq, ran across the website of
J & D’s Down Home Enterprises and decided to send them an email. According to the website, their product, Bacon Salt is a vegetarian and kosher seasoning salt that makes everything it’s used on, taste like real bacon. In fact, the motto of the company is “Everything should taste like bacon.” That email from the Marine, read in part:

“I’m currently stationed on a small Army forward operating post in the western part of the al-Anbar province in Iraq, with a detachment of about 60 Marines. I’m sorry to report, however, that although there are many amenities provided for us, regular access to bacon is not one of them.”

That email sparked an idea, which grew into what Justin and Dave, the owners of the company dubbed “Operation Bacon Salt.” They were determined that our Troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan would not go without the taste of bacon during their deployments. So, they sponsored the first Bacon Salt barbecue. Since then, they’ve shipped Bacon Salt to many other Troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their plans are to sponsor more Bacon Salt barbecues, once a month until our Troops redeploy home for good. They’re trying to get the word out. If you’re a Soldier stationed overseas please contact them. If you’re interested in donating Bacon Salt to the Troops, please contact them as well, via email by writing to . Apparently the initial shipment of Bacon Salt, to the Marines in al Anbar was a success, as they received another email from the Marine, along with pictures.

“Gentlemen, we received your gracious gift of bacon salt today, and I must say it is well beyond my expectations. I have attached a few photos of myself and fellow Devil Dogs chowing down on some Bacon Salt flavored popcorn. It is my intentions to never be without a bottle of such a fine deliciousness as this, regardless of meal or location. The smell and taste of bacon can make any unrecognizable, chowhall meal taste as good as the Last Supper. Once again, thank you and well done.”

Bacon Salt comes in three flavors, original, hickory and peppered. The makers of Bacon Salt are promising more flavors to come in the near future. They even have recipes listed on their website, if you’re unsure how to use Bacon Salt in your daily meals. Small, spice size bottles run for $4.49 per bottle, or you can opt for the larger size at $13.99 and they can be ordered from the Bacon Salt website. They are also branching out into the retail stores, so check the website for a location near you, that carries Bacon Salt. I know that many of us are supporting deployed Soldiers, so perhaps this is something that you’ll want to add to your next care package.

J & D Down Home Enterprises

Army Times

Operation Iraqi Freedom Looms Closer

April 25, 2008

We are less than 30 days from deployment and I’m nervous, one would think that being deployed to war before would make a person less anxious the second time around.  The truth is, every deployment is fearful.  It is easier for my wife because she knows what to expect, but I know this is taking a toll on her.  Let’s not forget my dearest little girl Bella.  I’m going away for 15 months, she’s going to wonder why her daddy isn’t here.  Let me tell you a well known fact about children.  Majority of parents with children under a year who deploy believe that their child will not remember the deployed spouse when they come back from deployment.  But my family is a prime example that this is not the case.  When I deployed to Afghanistan in April 06, Bella was only 2 weeks old.  We were apart for more than 8 months before I took midtour leave and came home.  It took a minute or two but Bell knew who her daddy was and we bonded.  A simple but effective means to keep in touch with your child is, 1. make sure you talk to your child.  Your voice will soothe them and they will remember you, nomatter how old they are.  2. leave a photo with them, though they may be too young to hold it, they will remember your face. 3. never force your child to pay attention to you when you come home, they must get adjusted to you being home, eventually they will come around and your family will be complete once more.  I would like to leave you with this last announcement.  On behalf of the Begley Family, to the family of Mathew Maupin, “Please accept my deepest sympathies and most sincere apology for the loss of your son.  You have recieved a copy of my music in good faith and if I can do anything to help your family in your time of suffering, don’t hesitate to contact me.  You will always be in my thoughts.  Godsbee to you and your family, your son has paid his debt to our nation, HE WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN!!!!”.  May God be with all of our men, women, and families who support the founding principals of our nation. “GOD AND COUNTRY”.  As I prepare for Iraq, I will go with pride.  I am an American soldier, and I will always remember my place in the world……….”America’s Guardian Force”.

Petraeus Will Be Nominated For Chief of US Central Command

April 24, 2008

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced yesterday that President Bush will nominate General David Petraeus to replace Navy Admiral William Fallon, who resigned from that position last month. By promoting General Petraeus, Lt. General Ray Odierno, who was second in command in Iraq, the President will leave his sucessor with two combat-tested commanders in place.

The timing of this nomination, comes at a crucial and pivotal time in Iraq. Many people have credited Lt. General Odierno with managing the security gains that have been seen in Iraq, which have opened a window of opportunity for the potential of political progress in Iraq.

According to Gates, if Congress acts quickly on both nominations, Petraeus should switch to the Central Command position by late summer or early fall. That would also be the time, at which Petraeus would make an initial recommendation to Gates and President Bush, on whether further reduction in forces in Iraq were feasible. Currently, there are about 160,000 US Troops serving in Iraq and approximately 28,000 in Afghanistan. As we’re all aware, the strain of the two simultaneous wars, has produced some strain on US military forces.

Even though the two experienced leaders would be in place when the new President took over, that doesn’t mean that the next President would have to leave them in place. In most cases, however, when a new President takes office, they generally don’t change the lineup of senior commanders.

“There is no precedent in US tradition for a new president changing these kinds of officers,” said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “For an incoming president to change them in 2008, would be a real statement.”

Currently, Gates doesn’t forsee that new senior leaders would mean changes in the way the US is approaching the idea of Iranian influence in Iraq. Both Petraeus and Odierno have stated publically in the past that they feel Iran is aiding insurgents in Iraq.

“It’s my belief that General Odierno and General Petraeus and Admiral Fallon were all in exactly the same position when it came to their views of Iranian interference inside Iraq.” Gates said. “And it is a hard position. Because of what the Iranians are doing is killing American service men and women inside Iraq.”

The nomination of General Odierno to replace General Petraeus as commander in Iraq was a surprise to some. Many felt that Gates’ senior military assistant, Army Lt. General Peter Chiarelli would be chosen as the successor to Petraeus. When asked about his recommendation of Odierno, Gates’ reply showed that his decision wasn’t just an spur of the moment decision.

“General Odierno is known recently to the Iraqi leadership, he’s known to the Iraqi generals, he is known to our own people. He has current experience,” Gates said. “So the odds of a smooth transition in Baghdad are better with him than with anybody else I could identify.”

I think that General Odierno is the best choice for the position as well. He just recently returned from a tour in Iraq, where he worked diligently alongside General Petraeus to ensure improvements in the situation in Iraq. I’m sure that there will be plenty of media coverage as this unfolds and hearings are held on these nominations. For myself, it sounds like Defense Secretary Gates and President Bush have made the best choices for the jobs.

Yahoo News

Stop Loss Likely To Continue For Awhile Longer

April 23, 2008

As much as we all hate the fact that some Troops scheduled to get out of the military, have been stop-lossed, we’re also aware, that with the wars currently underway in Afghanitan and Iraq, that it’s a necessary evil. Troop levels had been cut drastically at the end of the Cold-War era, during the Clinton administration. Now that our Troops are involved in 2 wars simultaneously, those numbers weren’t enough and thus stop-loss was necessary to sustain forces in those two wars. Short of reinstating the draft, that ended after the Viet Nam war, stop-loss was the only was that could help to alieviate the shortage of Troops.

Lt. General James D. Thurman, deputy chief of staff for operations, recently said that his hope is that wartime demand for Troops will decline enough by fall 2009, to enable the military to put an end to the stop-loss practice. Currently, there are about 12,000 Troops currently serving who have been stop-lossed. Thurman also said that as the military grows with new recruits, that it could be possible by fall 2011 for Troops to be home for up to two years between rotations to the warzones.

Recently, President Bush announced that most of the extra Troops who were sent to Iraq for the surge last year should be home by the end of July and he has ordered that combat tours be decreased to 12 month tours instead of the current 15. Lt. General Thurman feels that this will aid the military in restoring their balance.

“We want to reduce the strain and stress on our Soldiers and our families,” he told a Pentagon news conference.

At this point, 17 Army combat brigade teams are deployed. 15 of those combat teams are in Iraq and the other two are in Afghanistan. As the drawdown continues, two of those in Iraq are scheduled to return home. While the drawdown allows tours in the combat zones to be shortened, it will be awhile yet before the stop-loss can end.

“As the demand for Troops comes down, we should be able to get us weaned off of stop-loss … it’s our intent to do that,” Thurman said. “But the demand exceeds supply right now.”

While Lt. General Thurman can’t make any absolute promises, his hope is that if demand stabalizes to around 15 brigades, that the use of stop-loss can end by the end of the budget year 2009. According to information gathered, currently those who are currently being held past their end of time in service, include more than 6,000 active duty Army Troops and about 3,800 National Guard and 1,500 Reserves.

It should be interesting to see how things develop. Hopefully, they’ll be able to end stop-loss by 2009. All we can do is wait and see at this point. Having been subjected to stop-loss with Marty’s last deployment, I know that it can be stressful on Troops and their families. I’ve heard lots of people bitch and complain that the Army is violating their contracts, or that the Army is violating their rights. That is not true at all. Like Marty, I look at it from the stand point that sometimes those things are necessary. As he said, if a Soldier reads their contract, they should be aware that if they, for instance, signed up for a 4 year tour in the Army, they also obligated themselves to 4 years in inactive reserve. Meaning that if necessary, the Army can call them back at any time, during that period. When Marty’s son enlisted just recently, that was explained very clearly to him. So to those who complain, I can only say this …. you signed your name on that dotted line and took the enlistment oath, so you agreed to this, when you did so.

New Grant Aims To Heal Wounded Soldiers

April 22, 2008

With the advances in medicine that have been made, many of our Soldiers who are wounded in battle, are surviving injuries, that during previous wars, they would not have survived. However, many of them are surviving with significant impairments from their injuries.

It was recently announced, that several different academic and industry researchers will be working together towards finding a way to use advances in medicine, including stem cells, growth factors, tissue and biomaterial to help the bodies of the wounded warriors restore or replace damaged tissue, organs and bone.

Formed by the US Army, the Institute of Tegenerative Medicine will devote time and monetary grants into developing products and therapies to help repair traumatic injuries that are being suffered by Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Dartmouth are working as part of a consortium which is led by Rutgers University and the Cleveland Clinic. Another group, headed by Wake Forest University and the University of Pittsburg will be working on these issues as well. The group led by Massachusetts General will use clinicians and researchers from it’s Center for Military Biomaterials Research and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Another group in the Houston area, formed with Rice University and University of Texas Houston will increase the work they have been doing on growing bone tissue for facial injuries. The initiative is a huge undertaking, involving a very young science, stem cell research.

“The initiative will work to develop techniques that help make our Soldiers whole again,” Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker said at its announcement at the Pentagon on Thursday. “It will use the Soldiers’ own stem cells to repair nerve damage, regrow muscles and tendons, repair bone wounds, help them heal without scarring … and help in the cranial reconstruction of severe head injuries.”

While I know that there’s been a lot of controversy over the use of stem cells, that has mainly been in the usage of stem cells from a fetus. This however, is different, since they will be using the Soldiers’ own stem cells. This could prove to be very promising for our Troops, who are wounded in battle. I’m really looking forward to watching as this develops and to hear the results. This could be a major breakthrough in dealing with the types of injuries that we’ve seen coming from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Houston Chronical

White Coat Notes

Learning About Commitment

April 19, 2008

Commitment… What exactly does that word mean to you? It’s a word that can have many different meanings, depending on the context the word is used in. Such as a parent’s commitment to ensuring that their children are raised properly and have what they need physically and emotionally, to grow into healthy and productive members of society. It could also mean a person obligating themselves to a contract, such as what many of us do when we purchase a home or car, when we obligate or commit ourselves to making our payments on time. Commitment could also refer to a person, who because of their strong personal and moral beliefs, commits themselves to serve a specific cause, such as persons who dedicate themselves to working with various charities or perhaps commit themselves to a specific form of employment. We all have various things that motivate us and cause us to commit ourselves to things. For the purpose of this article, I’ll use a definition of commitment, the type of commitment our Troops have.


1. the trait of sincere and steadfast fixity of purpose; “a man of energy and commitment” [syn: committedness]
2. the act of binding yourself (intellectually or emotionally) to a course of action; “his long commitment to public service”; “they felt no loyalty to a losing team”

Recently, several civilian leaders were able to learn about the commitment of the men and women serving in our Armed Forces, in a course they attended at the Pentagon. The course, the Joint Civilian Orientation Course, was held at the Pentagon, beginning April 18th. Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, addressed these leaders at the opening day of the conference. England said that he’s often been asked by people, after the terrorists attacks on September 11, 2001, why those attacks occurred.

“Why did 3,000 people die,” he said people would often ponder.

As England addressed the group of 50 educators, doctors, lawyers and business and community leaders attending the course at the Pentagon, he told them that he knows why. According to England, it’s because the terrorists who murdered those 3,000 people, couldn’t figure out how to kill more.

“The reason that 3,000 people died on 9-11 is because the terrorists didn’t know how to kill 30,000 or 300,000 or three million,” England said. “But there is no question in my mind that … if they could have killed three million people … if they would have had the wherewithal … then they would have done it. And they still want to.”

England appeared on the first day of the Joint Civilian Orientation Course, which is a program that is sponsored by the defense secretary, for US leaders who wish to broaden their knowledge of the military and national defense. Over the next week, the people participating will have the opportunity to see first-hand, by flying to various countries where are Troops are serving, the type of efforts our Troops are involved in. England promised the group, that as they meet and converse with servicemembers over the next week, that they’ll get a better understanding of why they serve. They will get a sense of the commitment to service and the preservation of freedom, that drives these men and women.

All of you will wake up in a free country … made possible by the United States military,” he said. “That’s why people serve. They serve so that every generation can literally wake up in freedom.”

The Joint Civilian Orientation Course is not a new concept at the Pentagon. In fact, it’s the oldest existing Pentagon outreach program, with this particular course, being the 75th that has been held. The program began in 1948. This year’s conference will have the distinction of being the first that has toured the US Southern Command area of operation. This group will have the opportunity to see a part of the military operations, far away from combat zones. In the past, conferences have focused on displays of the might of our military and even featured trips to combat zones.

Area of operations for the US Southern Command, focuses on more than 30 countries and covers an area of around 15.6 million square miles. Included in their area of operation, are some of the poorest countries in the world. Only one actual US military base operates in the region. Participants will travel to rural medical hospitals, where Troops deliver medical care to thousands of impoverished people. They will be able to board ships providing humanitarian aid to regions and go into jungles where US Troops are training foreign military troops in counternarcotics measures. US Army Lt. General Carter Ham told the group that while the military is very good at projecting combat power, sometimes that isn’t the best and first approach.

“We always have to stay capable. We always have to retain that ability to apply combat power when our nation needs us to do that,” he said. “But it sure sounds to me a lot better if we can prevent that and the application of soft power is a tool in that kit bag.”

General Ham also spoke about the dedication and commitment of the men and women in the military. He emphasized the fact that everyone serving in our country’s Armed Forces, is aware that they are joining when our country is at war, yet they continue to enlist and recruitment and retention goals continue to be met.

“Every one of them knows they are joining a military that’s at war. And they know what the risks are and yet they still come,” Ham said.

The majority of the participants in the program, have had little or no contact with the military. By attending the conference, it is hoped that regardless of their stance on the war, that they will show their support for the Troops. As General Ham told the group, that support from the community, makes so much difference to the Troops, especially those serving downrange. It tells them, that regardless of beliefs about the war, they will have the support of people in their communities. That alone means so much.

“It matters more than I can put into words for those who are deployed to know that what they are doing is supported by most Americans,” Ham said.

Hopefully, those who attended this years conference, will walk away from it with a better understanding of the many things our Troops are involved in, of the good their doing, both in the warzone and away from the warzone. Hopefully, these community leaders, will have a better understanding of the commitment, dedication and pride that our Troops have in serving a cause greater than themselves …. the cause of freedom.


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