19, 2009 – A Colorado-based group is connecting deployed troops
with volunteers eager to “adopt” them.
Since its inception four years ago, "Adopt a U.S. Soldier”
has connected more than 100,000 servicemembers to 265,000
supportive Americans who have sent them regular care packages,
wrote letters and, on occasion, run errands for family members.
“It's been such a privilege to work with this organization and
see it grow to what it is today,” Ann Johnson, the group's
founder and chief executive officer, said. “We are committed to
our soldiers. We love them. We will continue to do this work for
them and their families.”
Johnson started the group when her son, Paul, was stationed in
Iraq. She asked her friends if they would help to support his
unit. They agreed and sent nearly $3,000 of care-package items.
Johnson extended her support to other deployed troops, and the
Jacob Poehls,8, and his mother, Nora Hall -- both group
volunteers -- were featured recently on the NBC Today Show,
along with their adopted servicemember, Marine Corps Sgt.
Hall said it was a privilege for her son, who has a learning
disability, to have a Marine pen pal. The experience has given
him confidence as well as a reason to work on his reading and
writing skills, she said.
Beth Ann Alitt, of Encinitas, Calif., who also has adopted
several soldiers over the years, said she feels as if she is now
an official “Army mom.”
“Since I've started, I've met so many soldiers and their
families,” she said. “You adopt one. He returns home. Then you
adopt another and another. You send care packages. You e-mail.
You do things with their kids; you just instantly become a part
of their family.”
Satin Modesitt of Vero Beach, Fla., said the program establishes
a lasting connection to the soldier.
“It is so rewarding when your soldier comes home,” Modesitt
said. “You are just so relieved. You just feel like it is your
son, brother, daughter or sister. This has just been an amazing
thing for my family. We have grown, along with the military
families we've touched.”
To join the group, volunteers can register online at the Adopt a
U.S. Soldier Web site.
“We try to make the process as easy as possible,” Johnson said.
“The great thing about this is you can adopt more than one
soldier, and many soldiers are adopted by others so you can
share in your commitment.”