Send a soldier home

We’ve got soldiers training in Mississippi who are going on leave before heading to Afghanistan, and The State has reported that some of them can’t afford to get home to South Carolina.

Some suggest that the military should pay their way. I don’t see how (although, as I said before, if that’s more normal than it sounds, I’d like to know about it).

bud says we should help them out. I agree. I’ll kick in if anybody else will. I mean, I’ll kick in anyway, but I think we need a mechanism: I certainly don’t know where to send the money.

So write in with your pledges, and I’ll contact the Guard, and see if they’ll supply us with a conduit. Don’t send money to me; my wife doesn’t even trust me with the family checkbook. We’ll give it to somebody responsible.

But first, I need to be able to say to the officer in charge: "We want to give X amount," so that it will be worth their while to bother with us.

Or maybe there’s a better way to do this. Suggestions? Pledges? Let’s get on the ball with this.

8 thoughts on “Send a soldier home

  1. Reed Swearingen

    Brad: This is a wonderful way to support our troops. I’m no longer a member of Rotary, but my hunch is that the members would eat this up. I’ll forward a link to Rusty.
    Put me down for $100.

  2. Rusty DePass

    My son is a 2nd Lt. attached to the 218th and he is presently at Camp Shelby. First, he asked me to get him a plane ticket home (there is a Laurel/Hattiesburg airport with limited flights, Jackson is 65 miles, New Orleans is about 100) and that he would be responsible for getting himself home for the 10 days leave. Then we were told the S.C. National Guard would provide buses leaving at midnight to arrive here at the beginning of the workday. Later, we were informed that he and some buddies would rent a car, drive to New Orleans and fly home. He’s single and can afford it, but I wondered where that left some of the others.
    The bottom line is this: If S. C. guardsmen need financial help to get home on leave, we will get it done one way or the other. We all know a bunch of bankers who can handle the money and I’ll bet we could raise it in a week. I’m in for $100. Let me know if you want me to recruit a banker.
    In thinking about this it seems that I recall that it was always a soldier’s responsibility to pay for his tranportation from his duty station to wherever he traveled on leave. Makes sense. I always did. I’m trying to be logical. What makes this situation different is that a guardsman’s duty station is usually in or near his home area. If that were the case now, they would all be close to their homes and this wouldn’t be an issue. However, the guard has taken them to Mississippi for pre-deployment training—and we want them to be as well-trained as possible before they go over there—and they are going to let them go for a few days before they ship out. For those who find traveling back to South Carolina a financial burden, it does seem a bit unfair because most, if not all, of those in Mississippi are going to come home before going to Afghanistan. If they’re going to New Orleans to whoop it up or if they are going fly-fishing in Alaska, I don’t feel any obligation to contribute to their leave, but in this case, I think the obligation is the military’s. They took them down there for special training just like active duty training in the summer each year. It seems logical that they would bring them back, let them go for 10 days, then take them back to Mississippi if they want them to leave from there. If the military disagrees, I guess it’s up to us to take up the slack.

  3. Randy Bates

    Beaufort’s Plan to help our Guardsmen:
    The SC Guard unit from Beaufort, SC is currently training in Camp Shelby, Mississippi, prior to going to Afghanistan for twelve months.
    Mike Passinite, Elliot Hagan, and Donnie Beer along with family members from the local Guard unit are organizing a community event to raise money to pay the $7700 for the bus trip. The money has to be raised by March 5th.
    We are going to have a party at Boundary Street Pizzeria in Beaufort on Friday evening, March second from 6:00 – 8:00 PM.
    Sam Murray, Bill Rauch, Rev Kenneth Hodges, Catherine Ceips, Carlotta Ungaro, and Larry Holman will serve as “celebrity chefs” to cook pizzas for people who stop by to donate and eat.
    A special surprise will be a silent auction for a football graciously signed by USC Coach Steve Spurrier. Catherine Ceips, who asked the “Old Ball Coach” for the autograph remarked, “this is a great way for the community to show their support for our veterans and their families. I’m especially grateful to Coach Spurrier for his generosity for this worthy cause.”
    We hope this event will show our troops the support they deserve as well as act as a springboard for an ongoing fund for support for our deployed military in the future.
    Checks should be made out to: Troop 202 B CAV Family Readiness Group and sent to: Beaufort Readiness Center, 1 Cavalry Lane, Beaufort SC 29906.
    If you prefer, make your check to Troop 202 B CAV Family Readiness Group and mail it to South Carolina Bank and Trust, 1121 Boundary Street, Beaufort, SC 29902.
    Thank you very much for your help.

  4. Brad Warthen

    First, I want to thank Rusty for sharing his perspective on this, which is far better informed than mine. That’s the kind of feedback I was seeking when I initially raised this question in the previous post.

    Doug, that sounds like a good point to start, although it sounds like that’s just for the Beaufort unit. Is that right, Randy, or am I reading that wrong? Either way, it sounds like a good cause.

    Meanwhile, I have a question for Rusty, because he might know: Am I trying to duplicate effort here? I ask that because of the story in yesterday’s paper, suggesting that the problem was solved. If not, and if we need a separate effort for non-Beaufort personnel, I would greatly appreciate your recruiting a banker, so we can get going.

    Or I can — I can think of one right off who’s in our Rotary and sort of has a personal interest in this. I just jump at your offer because you might be able to move more quickly than I. I’m still sitting in this hospital waiting for someone to walk in any second and let me go home.

    I’ll call you, Rusty, and give you a number so we can coordinate.

  5. Rusty DePass

    Brad–I checked with the Guard and they have about 800 coming home. Some opted not to do so having already gone through that wrenching good-by more than a month ago. According to information I received from HQ, for those few who might have some difficulty paying for the trip home, “the National Guard Assn. of SC in conjuction with the 218th Family Readiness Group has established a program to assist in the funding of family and soldier relief programs for the 218th. This will include assisting soldiers who have chosen to return to SC with their travel. This program and funding will also be used to help soldiers’ families at home as needed during the deployment. The S.C. National Guard has assisted the National Guard Assn. of S. C. with arranging round trip charter bus transportation from Camp Shelby to S. C. at a cost of $110 per soldier. Anyone wishing to donate funds to the National Guard Association of S. C. Family Readiness program can send checks payable to the ‘SCNG Family Program’ to: National Guard Assn. of S. C.
    1 National Guard Road
    Stop # 36
    Columbia, SC 29201
    Attn: Cindy Watson (803-254-8456)
    The S. C. National Guard Association Family Programming includes an immediate goal of raising $40,000 to provide round trip transportation for 218th soldiers who choose to travel home from (and back to) Camp Shelby in April. Additionally, funds will be used to assist the families of the deployed soldiers during their absence.”
    From my overseas Army experience of 35 years ago I can tell you that a tiny fraction of the families left here will have emergencies while the soldier is gone and that money will be put to good use as the Guard personnel screen the need. I think this is probably the best way to address the problem and that’s what I intend to do. Thanks for raising the issue. My $100 is in the mail.

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