Supporting troops

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 6, 2003

Hello boating fans. This week I’m going to step away from safe boating and talk a little bit more about Operation Iraqi Freedom and the incredible way America is supporting deployed troops and their families. In this week’s column were going to highlight some ways you can get involved in supporting those that are deployed.

The first organization is truly amazing. I have to say up front that a big believer in pets. In fact most people that own pets truly love them to death. Just recently I wondered if there was any organization out there which would help military members who deployed with their pets. Believe it or not….there is.

NetPets.Org’s, Military Pets FOSTER Project was created to be the liaison between those in the military, both active or reserve, who have been deployed and need a place to put your dog or bird, in an arrangement similar to a foster home! The organization has availabilities all over this country. Even more extraordinary the service is free service. Obviously, any extraordinary veterinary expenses, special foods or medications are bore by the pet owner.

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Through the organization’s web site pet owners and people willing to &uot;foster care&uot; are matched up. Several questions are answered by the owner to allow the caregiver an opportunity to make the dog as happy as possible. Again, the cost of this program is free.

The second service, which has recently been given a lot of publicity, is the &uot;Gift of Groceries&uot; program. Send military members and their families gift certificates from military commissaries through the &uot;Gift of Groceries&uot; program at This program is a great benefit to friends of deployed military members, especially junior ones with families, who want to &uot;help out&uot; on the home front. If you want to support a deployed service member one nice way to do it is via a gift certificate from the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, which has 34 stores throughout the southwest Asian region in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The program is called the &uot;Gifts From the Homefront&uot; program:

By using a credit card or check, you can send a certificate to an authorized AAFES customers (active or reserve) who can redeem them at any PX or BX. Sold by CertifiChecks, these gift certificates can be purchased 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year, and they come in denominations of $10 and $20. Again a great opportunity to show support.

The final program that really is wonderful is &uot;Stars and Stripes&uot; free Message of Support. This program is designed to send greetings to U.S. troops deployed to the Arabian Gulf region. The program debuted on March 17, and provides a forum for family and friends of deployed service members to send their greetings free of charge. The program is limited to 50 words and can be accessed via They are printed on a first-come, first-run basis. Of course crude or inappropriate messages will not be published.

Some programs and opportunities to think about to support loved ones fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Until next week…Boat Safe Boat Smart!

LCDR Joe DiRenzo III is a resident of the Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist.