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Don’t let single soldiers come home feeling alone

Organizers want to put welcome home packages in each barracks room of returning warriors

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Thousands upon thousands of soldiers return to the South Puget Sound area beginning in May, and while many of them will be greeted by loved ones in gyms and units across the Joint Base, many, upward of 7,500 won't have family to welcome them home.

Primarily single soldiers, these warriors come home to a stripped down barracks room spending the night alone withoout family to help them ease back into society.  If any of them suffer from combat stresses,  that can be a recipe for disaster.

But, hopefully, that won't happen here.  The families of the three Stryker brigades, plus an organizing committee from the Fort Lewis Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, are collecting thousands of toiletries, snacks and beverages to have in the rooms of each returning single soldier, as well as those soldiers whose spouses have been living away and won't be back in time to greet them.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for everyone, on the bases and off, to make a difference, and to honor our soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Ken Swarner, a vice president with the Fort Lewis Chapter of AUSA.  "No soldier should come home from a year at war and feel like nobody cares."

Efforts are already underway to collect items, Swarner said.  Needed are single size or hotel-size of the following: Disposable razors, shaving cream, deodorant, detergent and dryer sheets, plus bath towels, wash cloths, bottled water, drink mixes, non-perishable snacks, napkins, paper plates, plastic cutlery, shower curtains, shower curtain rings, and toilet paper.

Money donations are also appreciated and are used to buy items not donated.

"Any cash donation or product donation goes a long way," Swarner said.  "You can imagine the support we need to fill 7,500 barracks rooms with the love our returning heroes deserve.  Please give generously."

AUSA is also a 501C3, so the tax deduction applies to gifts made through the Association of the United States Army - Fort Lewis Chapter.  You can send the money to AUSA Fort Lewis, c/o The Ranger newspaper, P.O. Box 98801, Lakewood, WA 98496.  Those funds will funnel directly to the project.

Product donations may be dropped off at any Harborstone Credit Union location.  For a complete list, see

Any questions, and to coordinate delivery of items, please contact Denise Dhane at (253) 686-1505 or, Carlene Joseph at, or (253) 312-9279, or Ken Swarner at (253) 584-1212 or  

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