Military.com | July 1, 2006

A Note from Admiral Gallo: Send a CD to a Soldier

With American troops now in their fourth year of combat in Iraq, it is crucial to continue supporting them and their families with the same fervor as four years ago. And just as soldiers are still heroically serving this country, the families they leave behind still struggle with the pain of their loved one’s absence.

“One of the hardest things a service member will ever do is leave his or her family,” said retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf. “I found that knowledge of their families’ health back home contributed significantly to the military readiness and preparedness of the soldiers. It was the soldiers who were most preoccupied with their families’ well-being who were least able to focus on the job at hand.”

The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) helps relieve some of this anxiety by providing a wide range of support services for junior enlisted personnel and their families. From thrift stores to food drives, tutoring to childcare, and social events to spouse support groups, ASYMCA strives to provide comfort and assistance in times of need.

And ASYMCA is not alone in this mission. People from all walks of life have rallied to the cause. The country music industry, in particular, has been a vocal supporter of the troops and a valuable partner to ASYMCA. In 2005, ASYMCA teamed up with Sony BMG and Music for a Cause to produce “Patriotic Country™ 2”, an album celebrating the expression of patriotism through music. Featuring songs by some of country music’s biggest stars and legends — including Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson, Lonestar, Merle Haggard, Billy Ray Cyrus, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and ASYMCA spokesman Aaron Tippin — “Patriotic Country™ 2” not only raises awareness about ASYMCA through a description in the cover booklet, but a portion of the sales also helps support ASYMCA programs.

Individuals can purchase the CD online at www.patrioticcountry2.com or at Amazon.com, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Target and Wal-Mart.

Since the album’s release, thousands of individual citizens have enjoyed listening to “Patriotic Country™ 2” knowing that their purchase is helping support programs for America’s military families. “Patriotic Country™ 2” even made it to the Top Ten on the Billboard Country Music Charts. This year, though, Americans now have the opportunity to share some of that joy with the troops.

We hear over and over again from soldiers that it’s the little things that matter the most when they are deployed — letters from loved ones, phone calls home, and distractions such as books, magazines, and music to take their minds off the fact that they are so far from their families.

With ASYMCA’s new “Send a CD to a Soldier” program, individuals can donate copies of “Patriotic Country™ 2” for inclusion in care packages distributed to deployed troops. An extension of the partnership with Sony BMG and Music for a Cause, “Send a CD to a Soldier” allows individuals to donate a copy of “Patriotic Country™ 2” directly to deployed soldiers as part of ASYMCA-sponsored care packages.

This modest token of appreciation can mean the world to our overseas troops. Not only does the all-American music gives soldiers pride in their mission and our great country, but it also reminds them of how proud folks back home are of their bravery. While a CD may seem like a small gift, to troops deployed overseas it is a little piece of “normal” and can help boost moral tremendously.

Perhaps the best part of the “Send a CD to a Soldier” program, though, is that anyone can participate: school groups, businesses, individuals, anyone who wants to say “thank you” to our courageous troops. To donate a copy of “Patriotic Country™ 2” directly to a deployed U.S. soldier, please visit www.sendacdtoasoldier.com .