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Adopt a soldier.

FIRST Lt. Katherine Broyer, a platoon leader in Company D, 82nd General Support Aviation Battalion, deployed to Afghanistan in January 2007. She's due to return home by February 2008.

Responsible for 38 Soldiers who perform helicopter maintenance, 1st Lt. Broyer said: "Without my Soldiers and all of their hard work we wouldn't be able to accomplish our mission of assisting the ground forces in northeastern Afghanistan."

A Black Hawk helicopter pilot, 1st Lt. Broyer flies two to three missions a week, performing tasks ranging from medical evacuation to ammunition resupply.

"The deployment is long, but my Soldiers are in great spirits, thanks to all 0of the support we get from very generous people back home," she said.

Most recently, Mr. Phillip Jones from Raleigh, N.C., has been sending packages to 1st Lt. Broyer and her team through Fort Bragg, N.C.'s, Adopt-a-Soldier program.

"About once every two weeks Mr. Jones sends us a few packages that include items such as fine cigars and cookies," she said. "My Soldiers always get excited when they see me walk into the hangar with one of those boxes. Mr. Jones has been very generous and always sends enough for the entire platoon."

Although the Soldiers receive care packages from family and friends, Mr. Jones's packages are doubly special, 1st Lt. Broyer said.

"It really means a lot when someone we don't even know sends gifts. I don't know a lot about Mr. Jones, other than he's an extremely generous man who cares about deployed Soldiers," she added.

The Adopt-a-Soldier program at Fort Bragg began in December 2003 when a high school friend of then-82nd Airborne Division commander Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack attended his assumption-of-command ceremony and asked what she could do to support the post's Soldiers, said Ms. Vicky Lee of the Fort Bragg Directorate of Plans, Training and Mobilization. Ms. Lee is now responsible for administering the program that has resulted in the "adoption" of more than 1,800 Fort Bragg Soldiers.

Today, some 200 Soldiers are on a waiting list to be "adopted," she said.

"The program gives the civilian community an opportunity to show its support for deployed Soldiers on an individual basis," said Ms. Lee. The "adoption" involves sending letters and packages for the duration of the Soldier's deployment, usually 12 to 15 months, and it's not limited to supporters from the Fayetteville-Fort Bragg area.

Fayetteville fourth-grade teacher Ms. Beth Rogers "developed the Adopt-a-Soldier program into something above and beyond care packages and letters," Ms. Lee said. "She's worked with representatives of the American Legion to adopt Soldiers in an aviation unit and has had flags presented to various schools."

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Before the opening of the current school year, the Cumberland County School System, of which Fayetteville is a part, advertised the Adopt-A-Soldier program county-wide, Ms. Lee said.

Most people try to send a letter once a week and a care package once a month. It usually takes at least 7 to 10 days for a letter to reach the Soldier, and 10 to 14 days for packages to arrive, Ms. Lee said.

Sponsors must fill out a customs form for each care package they send, listing its contents, weight and estimated cost of items sent.

Priority mail "military kits" can be obtained through the Expedited Package Supply Center by calling (800) 610-8734 to receive boxes, envelopes, tape and customs forms. The "flat-rate" boxes included in the kit will allow a sponsor to send whatever fits into the box, regardless of its weight, for a flat fee of $8.95, Ms. Lee said.

The following is a list of items requested by Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan:

AA batteries Air freshener Antibacterial gel Baby wipes Beef jerky Black socks Blank postcards Board games Body powder Books Bug spray Canned cheese Cards (playing) Chewing gum Chex mix Chips Cigarettes Cigars Contact solution Cotton balls Crackers Crossword puzzles Dental floss Deodorant Disposable cameras Disposable razors DVD movies Envelopes Eye drops Feminine-hygiene products Fly swatters Foot powder Gallon-size resealable bags Granola bars Hand sanitizer Hard candy Ink pens Insoles Instant soup Lip balm Lollipops Magazines Mints Mouth sprays Nasal spray Newspapers Paper (letter-writing) Paperback books Peanuts Pillows Popcorn Pop Tarts Pretzels Protein bars Protein powder/shakes Q-tips Ravioli (pop-top cans) Sanitary napkins Shampoo Shaving cream Shower puffs Small packs of fruit Soap Sunflower seeds Sunscreen Sweetened Kool-Aid Tissues Toilet paper Toothbrushes Toothpaste Trail mix Travel games Tums, Immodium Twizzlers Tylenol, Advil Velcro Video games Vitamins

--Heike Hasenauer
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Hasenauer, Heika
Publication:Soldiers Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2007
Words:747
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