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A snowball's chance

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SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - A snowball was recently seen rolling down a hill near U.S. Transportation Command here.

Well, not actually the frozen water variety, but a metaphoric ice sphere created by a group of men and women in the command's Directorate of Acquisitions. That snowball gained momentum to provide care packages for troops in Afghanistan.

The story began in late May when Carla Diamond went to the 375th Aerospace Medical Squadron's Aeromedical Staging Flight to visit wounded soldiers transiting Scott on their way to home units.

"We brought magazines and ice cream for them to enjoy," Diamond said. "One soldier in particular, touched me deeply, and I came back to the office and recounted his story. I was on the verge of tears as I told the story to my office."

Diamond said a soldier in his mid-20s was on his way home after receiving a third Purple Heart. "He had a little trouble speaking as a result of a head injury, but was very open to us about his experience," Diamond said.

"I was touched and moved by his patriotism and (that of) the soldiers still in country. He told us of how few and far between care packages are because of the locations of FOBs (forward operating bases).

"He told me how he wanted to take the money he earned while deployed and spend it taking care of his fellow soldiers, as they lack so much in the field," Diamond continued. "And then to hit the point home, he confided how he couldn't go back again. After his third Purple Heart, the Army was going to medically discharge him."

Diamond said after she relayed the story to her co- workers, two of them, Krissy Hackstadt and Emily Tift, decided to take action.

"He (the soldier) is dedicated to his country and his job," Hackstadt said. "All he could talk about was taking every bit of money he had earned and using it toward sending care packages to those out at the forward operating bases in Afghanistan. He emphasized the need at some of the new FOBs, and how bare they are in general. Being so touched by this individual's story and passion to help those who are serving for us, we wanted to assist in any way that we could."

Tift said she and Hackstadt then started contacting friends, family members and co-workers seeking addresses for military members serving at FOBs in Afghanistan, with little luck.

"We then called the Illinois and Missouri National Guard offices," Tift said, "and they directed us to a Web site called www.anysoldier.com. This Web site was created to help any member of the armed forces. It provided us with names of soldiers, the number of men and women in their unit and an address to send care packages."

Once they had a list of potential recipients, the staff of the Acquisitions Directorate, friends and family really started acquiring.

"We collected thank you cards, created a banner and collected almost $700 worth of donations (hygiene and food items) to send to our troops." Diamond said. "We mailed 26 packages to seven FOBs in Afghanistan.

"I am so proud of my office, our friends and our families for supporting our armed forces," Diamond continued. "I am still shocked at the wildfire of support that ran through the office. We are all so busy writing and administrating contracts around the world in support of our troops."

Hackstadt added, "We thought this was a great way to show our appreciation for those soldiers out in the field fighting to keep us safe and free. The jobs that we have in acquisition allow us to support the warfighter everyday, but this was a way for us to do something more. We think it was a great success and hope to do this again soon."
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