[ISN] Adopt-a-Soldier Web site gains popularity

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Mar 10 2003 - 01:50:59 PST

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    Forwarded from: William Knowles <wkat_private>
    [ http://groups.msn.com/hugstokuwaitadoptasoldier
      http://www.operationmilitarypride.org/    - WK]
    By ELLIOTT MINOR, Associated Press
    FORT BENNING, Ga. (March 6, 2003 9:53 a.m. EST) - Pamela Bates worried 
    about getting depressed after her husband shipped out to Kuwait for 
    the possible war with Iraq. 
    Her solution was a project that keeps her busy 16 hours a day and 
    lifts the spirits of thousands of soldiers living in tent cities in 
    the Kuwaiti desert. 
    Her Adopt-A-Soldier Web site - Hugs to Kuwait - was originally 
    intended to serve only members of her husband's unit, the First 
    Battalion of the 10th Artillery Regiment from Fort Benning. But the 
    overwhelming response from soldiers, military families and other 
    supporters led her to expand it to all branches of the military and 
    even to a British unit. 
    "I don't have a guarantee that my husband will return," she said. "I 
    pray for his safety and I have to support those who watch his back 
    Bates launched the Web site on Jan. 4, two days before her husband, 
    Sgt. Daniel Bates, boarded a plane for the Middle East. He is an 
    artilleryman in the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which would likely 
    take the lead in an invasion of Iraq. 
    So far Bates has arranged the adoption of more than 9,800 troops, and 
    18,000 people from every state and 11 countries have applied. She and 
    a group of volunteers screen the applicants and then link them with 
    troops who agree to be adopted. 
    Mitch Dunn, a disabled Vietnam veteran, and his wife, Sandy, of Fort 
    Dodge, Iowa, have adopted two sailors aboard the USS Constellation, an 
    aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf region, and three soldiers from 
    Sgt. Bates' battalion. 
    "Every letter I write, I say, 'I hope the good Lord brings you home 
    safely,'" said Dunn, who was wounded in Vietnam while serving aboard a 
    Navy river patrol boat. "You know those kids have to be scared. If 
    you're not scared, there's something wrong with you. 
    "It really means a lot to get support from people back home," he said. 
    Sandy Dunn has become one of the four assistant managers who help with 
    Hugs to Kuwait, which has also linked churches, civic groups, scout 
    troops and veterans' organizations with the troops who soon may face 
    "I was determined that I was going to do something for the guys in his 
    unit," said Bates. "It never was supposed to get this big." 
    Her Web site also offers chat rooms that provide support for military 
    spouses, tips on what to include in care packages for soldiers and 
    soldiers' pictures from the desert. 
    It has a link to another group, Operation Military Pride, which works 
    to boost the morale of troops based overseas through cards, letters 
    and care packages. Operation Military Pride plans a Washington rally 
    on Armed Forces Day, May 17, to show support for the military. 
    "We've created a community, and it's been a godsend for me," said 
    Bates, who has two teenagers. "I don't sit around feeling sorry for 
    myself. As a spouse, you can get the blahs when your husband is 
    deployed. You don't want to get out of bed." 
    She runs the Web site from a laptop while seated on a sofa in the 
    living room of her home in a military housing development. She 
    receives more than 100 e-mails a day and her coffee table is piled 
    high with printouts. She also gets a flood of regular mail from people 
    who want to apply, or to offer their thanks and support. 
    "When I get down in the dumps, I read the letters that people send to 
    me thanking me for setting up the program, and it always picks me back 
    up," she said. "I support my husband 100 percent and what the military 
    does, 150 percent. I have to be strong for him and for my kids." 
    Bates, who had little experience with Web sites, built the site on her 
    "We're home. We feel safe and comfortable with our families and 
    friends," Bates said. "They don't have that. What they are doing is 
    what they have been ordered to do, what they took an oath to do. If we 
    can make one soldier smile, then we're happy." 
    "Communications without intelligence is noise;  Intelligence
    without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
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