Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Celebration will provide overdue recognition

Laura Gilbert is a volunteer leader for Operation Celebrate Freedom, a fun event scheduled for Saturday, May 15, at the Jefferson County Fair Park Activity Center and grounds.

I got started with Operation Celebrate Freedom because I felt that when my husband was deployed that not only did my community not only not know that he was gone, there was no recognition for his return home. Although we don't look for that recognition, it sure doesn't hurt to get it, so I felt with the 3,200+ troops that were deployed last year the time to give them ALL appreciation was NOW. So I approached a local business owner Randy Schopen of Capn's Catering in Jefferson and asked for his help getting people together to get the ball rolling. So in September we had our first meeting. We are a completely volunteer committee comprised of Military and non Military members who just believe that our troops deserve to be welcomed home in a special manner.

We started making plans to have music, food, beverages, as well as educational booths for the veterans returning home about thier benefits post deployment. It turns out that we are also having a motorcycle ride into the event from the five counties surrounding Jefferson County that will meet at the Jefferson VFW and stage there then ride to the fairgrounds down Hwy 26 to Puerner St into the fairgrounds, the final leg of the ride will have the support of the SE WI Patriot Guards flags, citizens will hold flags as the motorcycles ride through to the fairgrounds. Basically we will have bands, food, beverages, kids activities informational booths, and hopefully a day of fun for our Veterans and families and an opprotunity for the general public to show appreciation to our recently returning Veterans.I can only tell you that this whole thing just started for me because I could not let the troops from WI be treated in a negative way on their return home, they deserve to be shown that we appreciate what they do for us no matter what our views on the war are, they are still fighting for our Country, they are still volunteering to do what they do they deserve to be shown a little appreciation for what they do. And ,we must not also forget the sacrifices of the families and what they go through during deployment it is a rough road for them too, they go from two parent families to one parent families. The children are often times too young to understand when mom or dad are leaving and even when they are old enough they still don't always understand the reason behind why their parent must leave.
Deployment is a difficult thing to have to go through and not every family makes it through sucessfully but for the ones that do, it changes your life forever! Your life becomes "before deployment and after deployment" references. That is why this event is so important to me, for those who made it they desereve to be recognized! I am proud to be an American Military family now more than ever, and I hope that all Military families feel the same way, we really go through more than civilians can imagine!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wisconsin military family program honored at Pentagon

Sun Prairie's Janell Kellett, the Family Readiness Group leader for the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Wisconsin National Guard, was presented with a plaque during the 2009 Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Awards at the Pentagon on Friday. Awards went to the top program from each of the seven Guard and Reserve branches. Kellett - who recently told us about her visit with First Lady Michelle Obama -- and more than 100 other volunteers supported family readiness and morale during the 32nd IBCT's 12-month deployment. (American Forces Press Service photo)

Update: After I posted this, Janell was quick to email me the group photo -- you can't spell Family Readiness Group without the "group" -- showing other honorees: Top row: Karin Texidor, Becky Hynes, Catrina Bennett, Andrea Simonis and Pam Kletzien

Bottom Row: Janell Kellett and Tim Benz

Wisconsin WWII veterans fly high

Ninety seven Wisconsin veterans of World War II took an emotional, whirlwind tour of Washington, D.C. war memorials Saturday.

If you missed the Wisconsin State Journal coverage, you can find it here.
Our online package includes a very nice photo gallery (31 photos), and if you want to see even more stellar images, take a look at State Journal photographer Steve Apps' personal blog.

Steve and I heard dozens and dozens of stirring, funny and heartbreaking stories while researching the story spending the day with the veterans. We put as many as we could in the paper, and there will be opportunities in future editions to share more.

Folks in Beaver Dam asked that we use this blog to mention the names of the veterans from that area who were on the flight. Click here for the information in the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen.

If your are a veteran, on active duty, or a member of a Wisconsin military family, this blog is for you. Send your stories and photos to me at sverburg@madison.com.

For more information on Badger Honor Flight, click here.

-- Steve Verburg