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Summer fun with AUSA

Organization hosts events to build community ties

Members of the 201st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade enjoy a game of volleyball during a picnic hosted by the Gig Harbor subchapter of the Association of the United States Army. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Picnics are great fun.

"You can't beat this weather and park," exclaimed John Guarda, as soldiers and family members assigned to the 201st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade enjoyed a day of fun and community.

As the president of the Association of the United States Army's (AUSA) Gig Harbor Subchapter, Guarda would know.

"This is the third time we've done this Salute to the Troops at Sehmel Pioneer Park here in Gig Harbor, and we are looking to make future events bigger," he added.

Last Friday under a clear blue sky with the temperature in the mid-70s, the AUSA's Gig Harbor Subchapter held a family appreciation day at the park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the soldiers and their family members of the 201st EMIB.

The AUSA is open to all Army ranks and all components, to include active-duty, National Guard, Army Reserve, government civilians, retirees, wounded warriors, veterans, concerned citizens and family members.

Community businesses and defense industry companies are also welcome to join.

As to the fun in the park, the purpose of the last Friday's Salute to the Troops was to strengthen family and community bonds.

"I can't say enough about how the City of Gig Harbor and the Chamber of Commerce have partnered with us to make this day a success," continued Guarda.

"We want the Joint Base Lewis-McChord community to see the city and AUSA as their right arm in supporting soldiers and their families."

Very little space on the 98-acre Sehmel Homestead Park was not used to make the day memorable.

Softball games, volleyball matches, an inflatable bounce house, the pavilion, music, face painters and almost two dozen vendors contributed to the color, excitement and sound of the event.

"This is AUSA's effort to build stronger relationships with the community and the soldiers that serve," commented Amy Tiemeyer, president of the Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter of the AUSA.

Interestingly, some of the picnic's vendors were on-hand to help soldiers thinking about transitioning from active-duty to the civilian sector.

"We've given this a lot of thought," continued Guarda.

"We are also hoping to make this event larger next year by inviting Air Force and Navy personnel."

Tiemeyer echoed this sentiment.

"This partnership between AUSA and JBLM with other local communities is to help engage transitioning soldiers in the hopes that when they transition to the civilian world, they know there is help if they need it."

In its efforts to build community bonds and honor JBLM soldiers and their families, the AUSA and the Puyallup-Sumner Subchapter will host a Salute to the Troops next Friday, Aug. 11, at the Pioneer Park Pavilion in downtown Puyallup from 1 to 5 p.m.

For more information, contact Michele Fuller at 253.302.0554.

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