Troops need support

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 1, 2005

Since the first troops were deployed to Iraq more than three years ago, many people have questioned this war’s purpose and validity. But, as with Vietnam, our men and women of the military and national guard are doing their sworn duty – something they are proud to do – by going over there and serving to the best of their ability.

Regardless of one’s feelings about the war itself, those men and women need support, encouragement and understanding. Residents of Demopolis and the surrounding communities will have a chance to show their support and encouragement for the local National Guard unit July 15 when the unit hosts a deployment ceremony.

“The VFW and DAV (Disabled American Veterans) will work together and do what we can to give them a great send-off,” said Lee Belcher of the local VFW chapter. “We must get the community involved in this.”

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Belcher said the community can help through providing refreshments for the send-off ceremony, or by displaying flags and yellow ribbons throughout town.

The unit of approximately 83 plus a detachment in Centreville of an additional 50 soldiers will leave July 15 for Northport, where they will join Co. A of the 31st Battalion. After a brief training period, the entire assembled unit will leave for Iraq, where it will remain for at least a year.

Lt. Col. Robert Horton, public affairs officer for the Alabama National Guard, said once the unit has arrived at its destination in Iraq, they will be given a forwarding address, which will be given to family. However, for security reasons, that address cannot be printed.

“We do get requests from churches, schools and civic organizations that want to send cards or care packages, and we will give the address out on a case by case basis once the validity of the group has been determined,” he said. “We recognize the public’s desire to send care packages and cards, so anyone that wants to send something can contact the National Guard Public Affairs Office at (334) 271-7244.”

For those who would like to help with the July 15 send-off ceremony, contact the local national guard office at 289-3398.