Friday, February 29, 2008

Blue Star Mothers Meeting 2/26/08

February 26, 2008

Debbie Seifert welcomed all members. The meeting was called to order at 6:40pm. Debbie Seifert led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Minutes of the January 29th meeting were posted on the website for review and approval. The Treasurer’s Report was given as follows: January balance of $902.10.

Old Business –

  1. Dues/Membership Applications – Dues in the amount of $10.00 are due and payable to our Treasurer Linda Cagle along with the new Membership Applications.
    1. Team/Committees – There were no Team Committee reports.
  2. Fundraising –
    1. Debbie Seifert is continuing with fundraising efforts by contacting local businesses. She also e-mailed Peter Max, patriotic artist, regarding soliciting one of his paintings to be used in a fundraising raffle.
    2. Certificates are being sent to those individuals and companies who have donated to BSM’s. (Jim Click, Dr. Weiss, Wild Oats Market, VFW and gentleman who donated the certificates.

New Business –

  1. Caring and Sharing Meeting – This new meeting was held at VFW Post #10188 on the second Tuesday in February in order to meet the emotional and informational needs of our Mothers, Grandmothers, etc. The next meeting will be on March 12th. Tracey Cantor from D-M will be the guest speaker and speak on Base Resources, Military One Source, Mental Health issues, etc. or contains helpful links.

  1. Catastrophic Event Fund – There was discussion on setting up a catastrophic event fund for a plant, cheese tray or whatever would be best for the family suffering the event and the amount per event. Helen Quigley made a motion, seconded by Barbara League, for the amount per event not to exceed $50.00. Motion passed.
  2. Pima County Fair – There was discussion on manning a booth at the Fair to let those military mothers, grandmothers, families, etc. in need of support know that we, the BSM’s, are here to help. The rental on a booth is 10ftx10ft is $50.00 and must be manned during Fair hours and have flyers, information packets available. If the booth is left untended for a short period of time, passersby would at least be able to pick up information of BSM/s. Vicki Payne will contact the Fair for more information on hours and to see if we could reserve a booth at “no charge” since BSM is a non-profit, service organization. A suggestion was made that we share the booth with the VFW, VFW Ladies Auxiliary and/or the FRG’s.

Barbara League made a motion, seconded by Crissie Harlan, that a committee be formed to discuss what visual aids, etc. will be needed/used if we have a booth; i.e. BSM banner, bulletin board, laptop with patriotic music and BSM website information, etc. Motion passed. Linda Cagle volunteered to set up the laptop if appropriate information is sent to her. A committee comprising Barbara League, Crissie Harlan, Debbie Miller and Debbie Seifert will meet via e-mail or in person.

This issue was tabled until the March 25th meeting when more information will be available.

ACTION: Vicki Payne will call the Pima County Fair for more information, hours, etc. on BSM’s having a booth at the Fair.

ACTION: Debbie Miller will send a group e-mail to see who would be willing to man the booth.

ACTION: Pima County Fair Committee Members meet via e-mail or in person regarding a booth at the Fair.

ACTION: Linda Cagle will set up laptop with appropriate information for Pima County Fair exhibit.

ACTION: Crissie Harlan will approach the VFW Ladies’ Auxiliary and FRG’s would like to share the booth.

  1. Air Force Reserve Unit – They will be leaving March 5th or 6th. Per Vicki, Kim Sloan would like to know if BSM’s want to team up to see them off. There was discussion on what this would involve; i.e. refreshments, games for children, etc. Vicki will obtain more information from Kim Sloan.

ACTION: Vicki Payne will contact Kim Sloan regarding deployment send-off for Air Force Reserves leaving March 5th or 6th.

  1. Care Packages – Debbie Miller still have lots of items for care packages. Crissie suggested sending a care package to the son of Sherry, a lady both Crissie and DebbierS have been in e-mail contact with. The Post Office now has a new size, one-price box (12x12x5.5) which can be sent to any military address for $10.95. Debbie S made a motion, seconded by Crissie, for BSM’s to send 4 care packages per month. Motion passed. Crissie made a motion, Vicki seconded, to send Shirley’s son a care package. Motion passed.

ACTION: Crissie will e-mail Sherry’s son’s address to Debbie Miller.

ACTION: DebbieS will e-mail Marine Mother’s website to Maria Caria and Vicki.

ACTION: Vicki will add the Marine Mother’s website to the BSM website and send the link for the BSM website to Maria Caria.

  1. Publicity – Discussion on how to inform the public about BSM. Corporate sponsorship was also discussed. No decisions were made.
  2. Easter - The Easter Eggstravaganza sponsored by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary Veteran’s and Family Support Group and led by Kim Sloan was mentioned by Crissie. The Group plans events for basically deployed soldiers but includes others. The Group meets the first Monday of each month from 6:00-7:00pm. Anyone can join and there are no dues. Suggestion was made that BSM’s might want to have a booth at the event which will be held at Reid Park on March 15th. Vicki and Linda will try to attend the next meeting.

ACTION: Vicki and Linda will attend Veteran’s and Family Support Group meeting the first Monday in March if possible.

  1. SHARING –
    1. DebbieM’s son is back in the States and will be attending flight training in Phoenix.
    2. Charli and Mike Greenlees’ son, Jason, who is in the Oregon National Guard, broke his leg March 22nd. Jason returned from Afghanistan in May 2007 and works for the National Guard in Oregon.
    3. Helen’s son may be a month late getting stateside from Afghanistan. Helen’s other son may be deployed but is supposed to be mustered out in October.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30pm with the Serenity Prayer.

Respectfully submitted,

Charli Greenlees

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Soldiers Give Backpacks to School Children

Story by 1st Lt. Myles Frohling
3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs

FOB KALSU — If you were to walk down the streets of Jurf as Sahkr during a school day, you would see a large number of children walking to and from school. One thing you would not see is many children carrying school bags.

Seeing the need, Soldiers of Company A, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, recently distributed school bags to students in the area.

First Sgt. Wayne Lawrence, from Carsville, Mo., first sergeant for Company A; Staff Sgt. Michael Navarro, from Clifton, N.J., a squad leader in 2nd Platoon, Co. A; and Spc. William Johnson, from Bellevue, Wash., a medic with 2nd Platoon, handed out school bags to children near the Tharir primary school in Snadeej.

“There is nothing better than working with our ISF (Iraqi security force) counterparts and making Iraqi children smile with a simple backpack,” Navarro said.

While school bags were being handed out, 1st Lt. Ryan Daly, from Woodbridge, N.J., 2nd Platoon leader, spoke with local residents in the area. The general consensus is that security is good in the area, said Daly.

“Events like this help me realize how important it is for us to be here to protect the children in the area and build their trust in the CF (coalition forces),” said Pfc. Danial Taylor, of Rialto, Calif., a gunner with 2nd Platoon, Co. A.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dozens of Air Force reservists from Tucson to deploy next week

About 80 reservists stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base will head to the Middle East for more than a year

By Aaron Mackey

Dozens of U.S. Air Force reservists based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base are scheduled to deploy next week.
About 80 reservists with the 943rd Rescue Group, which specializes in combat search and rescue, are scheduled to deploy to the Middle East, says Master Sgt. Shawn McCowan, a unit spokesman.
The 943rd will deploy along with members of its parent unit, the 920th Rescue Wing, for more than a year, McCowan says.
McCowan wouldn’t say when the unit would leave or exactly where the reservists would be sent because of security concerns, which is standard military procedure.
The deployment is the first in a series for the unit, he says.
The unit will deploy other reservists in early June and again in October, he says.
The 943rd, a tenant unit at D-M, was activated in February 2005 and is equipped with six HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, according to a military fact sheet.
The 943rd is the only reserve combat rescue unit in the Southwest, the fact sheet says.
The unit was established to provide search and rescue capabilities in support of combat operations abroad and can also respond to natural disasters that occur in the United States.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy Valentines's Day!

She hadn't expected him home until April, but last night, Elizabeth Penn cried tears of joy as she embraced her father, David Penn, a New Hampshire Army National Guard soldier home from Iraq on a two-week leave.

A freshman at Keene State College, Elizabeth had just walked into a semi-formal dance at Holloway Hall when the song "Hero" by Mariah Carey started to play.

Her friends, who had all kept the secret for weeks, turned and looked toward the door. That's when Elizabeth saw her father, dressed in fatigues, carrying a bouquet of flowers and a stuffed animal. The two embraced, and the tears started to flow as Elizabeth's friends and family encircled them, capturing the moment forever on cameras and video.

"I'm just shocked," said Elizabeth, wearing a black gown with rhinestones. "I don't know what to say. I'm shaking."


Dave Penn of New Hampshire Army National Guard's 34th RAOC Unit surprises his daughter, Elizabeth Penn, 18, at a Keene State College dance last night. (KRISTEN SENZ)

A Manchester resident, David Penn is a member of the Army National Guard's 34th Rear Area Operations Center Unit, a security force of 30 soldiers currently stationed in Mosul in northern Iraq.

"I miss my family a lot," said David, who was deployed last July and hasn't seen his wife, daughter or twin sons since. "I miss my kids."

"She'll always be my little baby," he said of his daughter.

Donna Penn, David's wife of more than 20 years, orchestrated the Valentine's Day surprise for Elizabeth. She said the two have always had an extremely close relationship.

"They're like peas and carrots from the Forrest Gump movie," she said.

The surprise reunion was Donna's Valentine's Day gift to her family.

"It was exciting," she said. "It was heartwarming. I was nervous, because I know how close they are. It was heartwarming, and that's Valentine's Day. We're very lucky to have this day with him."

When she was able to catch her breath, Elizabeth said seeing her father "was like a burst of energy, because I haven't seen him for so long."

The Penn family planned to spend the weekend together at a bed and breakfast in Troy.

"We just want to regroup, get to know each other again and just be a family again," Donna said.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Good News From Iraq. 15 Feb., 2008

From MNF-I, Adwaniyah Residents Look to Brighter Future, Normalcy.

Capt. Douglas Hoyt, from Columbus, Ohio, commander of Troop A, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. and leaders of Adwaniyah have worked hard to establish trust and confidence within the community to improve the security and economic situation for the town.  Photo by 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs.
Capt. Douglas Hoyt, from Columbus, Ohio, commander of Troop A, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. and leaders of Adwaniyah have worked hard to establish trust and confidence within the community to improve the security and economic situation for the town. Photo by 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs.
— Last year, the community of Adwaniyah witnessed the worst of what the insurgency brought to the people of Iraq.

There were reports of kidnappings and murders. Members of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) were said to have forced residents out of their homes. Soon, Adwaniyah residents realized that life under AQI would be a step backward and they began to work with Coalition forces to rid their community of AQI.

Adwaniyah citizens Hazim Shaker Ahmen and Riyah Yas Khudayr, both former Iraqi Army officers, began working with Coalition forces and started ‘Sons of Iraq’ (SoI) programs last October.

In mid-November AQI mounted an offensive against U.S. Soldiers, Iraqi Army and Sons of Iraq. At the time, Troop B, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division was the Army unit patrolling Adwaniyah. Troop B and the SoI repelled the offensive and since then AQI members have either been detained or fled the community.

Now, Troop B, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. controls the battle space and the future of Adwaniyah is bright.

“The local leadership, the Sons of Iraq and Iraqi Army all played an important part in making this a success and they continue to do so,” said Capt. Douglas Hoyt, Troop B, 6-8th Cav. Regt. commander, from Columbus, Ohio. “The willingness to make a stand, to sacrifice and work hard has paid off.”

In December, a SoI headquarters was set up and a town council was established.

By January, word began to spread that the community was safer. Residents began moving back into the city and businesses started re-opening.

“The situation has gone from bad to better,” said local SoI co-founder Ahmen. “The task has begun to improve the security, economic and employment situation and the relationship with the central Government of Iraq.”

Assisting with the improvement in security, Troop B, 6-8th Cav. Regt. established Patrol Base Dolby in the community to help keep residents safe, rebuild the infrastructure and try to boost the economy.

(Story by 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Soldiers See Need

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU — Despite nerve damage in his legs that confined him to a wheelchair, 7-year-old Yasser Mahmed was always in good spirits, waving to Soldiers passing through his neighborhood in Arab Jabour. The Soldiers of Company D, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division noticed the little boy, who relied on the legwork of his 12-year-old cousin, Ahmed Sluman, to propel his chair around.

The boys’ teamwork inspired Soldiers of Company D to reach out and make a difference. On Feb. 7, the Soldiers gave Yasser a new wheelchair, one with rugged tires to help better navigate the terrain.

"I am grateful for the assistance," said Mahmed's father, Yasser Mahmed Hussen. "I would like to say thank you more than one time."

Sluman said that family is very important to him and caring for his younger cousin comes naturally. "There are strong relationships in Iraqi families. We rely on our families," he said.

The Soldiers hope that through small acts of kindness like this, they can build trust in the community.

"The overall goal is to build trustful relations between us and the community," said 1st Lt. Bryan Deminico, platoon leader, Company D. "Little things done at the community level show we are here to help."

Friday, February 8, 2008


The mission statement of Blue Star Mothers:
We are a non-profit (501[c]3) service organization supporting each other and our children while promoting patriotism.

As we begin a new year, I have been pondering on what we can do to meet the needs of Blue Star Mothers. After speaking to some mothers who are no longer attending our meetings, it has come to my attention that we are not meeting the emotional needs of many of our mothers. I realize that we are all working full time jobs, we have family responsibilities, and quite frankly no one wants to sit through another fundraising meeting time after time after time.

I have spoken with the commander of the VFW, and have been granted permission to use the meeting room at the VFW on the 2nd Tuesday of each month as well as the 4th Tuesday of the month. So on the 2nd Tuesday of each month we will have a meeting that is for emotional support, caring and sharing. We have mothers out there who are hurting and no where to turn, Well, from this point on, there will be a place that they can go and get the support they need.

We will continue to have our business meetings on the 4th Tues of each month. If there is time I would also like to have time for emotional support on these nights as well.

Please feel free to attend one or both meetings each month. We will begin with the additional meeting next Tues, February 12. This meeting will only be emotional support, no business meeting. We only want to meet the needs of all our members.

Another thought was to have pot lucks for this meeting each month or, a dessert bar, or,e healthy items like relish trays etc. A spaghetti dinner would also be fun and easy. Please feel free to email me or Vicki Payne on your ideas.

I want to personally invite and welcome each and everyone of you to please attend one of the meetings, give us a chance, and if ever there is anything that you feel needs changed or if you feel we are not meeting your needs, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will see what I can do to make a change. Only you know how you are feeling and unless those feelings are shared, we can't help one another. The mission statement for Blue Star Mothers is to support one another.

I hope to see everyone on Tuesday, Feb 12, 630-8:30 PM, for our new and improved meeting. We all have big shoulders and we all have had the same cares & concerns at some point. Let's be there for each other.

You are all a great bunch of ladies. Remember without mom's there would be no military persons serving our country. So you are very very important. Thank you for all you do.

Thank you
Debbie Seifert