Even though most of Indiana's troops have returned home from the War on Terrorism, many are still waiting to deploy and, as of January 5th, the Army alone still had 160,200 troops deployed to various places throughout the world, 143,000 of them in Iraq and Kuwait. Total service members deployed probably exceeds 300,000.
There are still many service members to be supported and many organizations which can help individuals and corporations with their donations. The Indiana Veterans' Service Officers' Association and it's members, the County Veterans' Service Officers, wants to remind hoosiers that the local American Red Cross and the Salvation Army are still accepting donations. Tom Applegate, president of the association, says there are also several organizations online which have been helping troops since as early as 1995.
Operation Air Conditioner has spent more than $602,000 on morale items and mailings. They have sent desert boots, space heaters and air conditioners to hundreds of deployed troops. Their web site can be contacted at www.operationac.com. Interested persons can adopt a troop or send items to troops selected by the web site.
Operation Support Our Troops has sent about 118 tons worth about $2.7 million, "one box at time", according to its founder Mary Kay Salomone. For the holidays, she and her 500 "angels" around the country are sending close to 2,000 Christmas and Hanukkah boxes. They can be contacted at Operation Support Our Troops, 325 Laurel Ridge Lane, North Kingstown, RI 02852.
Operation Gratitude seeks to lift troops' morale, and bring a smile to their faces by sending Care Packages to service members overseas. They can be contacted at www.opgratitude.com or checks can be sent to Operation Gratitude, 16444 Refugio Road, Encino, California 91436, or via credit card online.
The USO is still accepting items and monetary donations at www.uso.org or by calling 1-800-876-7469.
The following organizations give out service members' names to the general public, but only if the member gives permission:
Operation Military Pride, www.operationmilitarypride.org, or send donations to Arlyn McClaughry, c/o Operation Military Pride, 16439 W. Cottonwood St., Surprize, AZ 85374.
HomeFrontHQ, www.homefronthq.com or write or call at Homefront Headquarters, Attention: C Bender, PO Box 307
Bryn Mawr California 92318, (909) 862-6280.
Adopt-a-Platoon Soldier Support Effort, www.adoptaplatoon.org or write to AdoptaPlatoon, PO Box 674, Kingston, N.H. 03848. Please send your name, full ground mailing address, telephone number (day and evening number), your marital status, whether you wish to apply for the adoption or pen pal program, and any other information that will help us consider you for the program.
Operation Shoebox, www.operationshoebox.com or write Operation ShoeBox, P.O. Box 1465, Belleview, FL 34421, or e-mail them at email@example.com
Operation Interdependence, www.oidelivers.org, sends civilian rations (candy bars, etc). Send donations to Operation Interdependence, P.O. Box 339, Fallbrook, CA 92088-0339
You can send messages of support to troops at Stars and Stripes, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Limited to 50 words or less and published on a space-available basis.
These are just a few of the many organizations which can help those at home in their support of our troops serving overseas, and Applegate and the local Veterans' Service Officers encourage Indiana citizens to continue their support.