9/11 led to many young men and women joining the armed forces. In 2002, after her son Dan made the commitment, Deb Rickert noticed the large number of men and women willing to risk their lives for their country. She felt the need to do something for them.
“It really started out in February 2003 as kind of a valentines event,” said Rickert. “I really started through my church and two troops that were already serving.”
Operation Support Our Troops was born. The movement is growing and soon will reach the millionth pound of items sent to troops over-seas.
“A woman walked up to me with just tears in her eyes and she said ‘I want you to meet my son, he’s just home from Afghanistan for two weeks and he received care packages and he wanted to come and meet you guys,’” said Rickert.
As a Vietnam veteran, Mike Barbour has volunteered with Operation Support Our Troops from the beginning.
“One of the things that all us Vietnam veterans will tell you that we were pretty disrespected when we came home,” said Barbour. “Our goal is to never have a generation be forgotten the way we were.”
The generosity of volunteers from Operation Support Our Troops extend further than a care package. Rickert formed Leap of Faith, a two-day seminar dedicated to family members of fallen soldiers. Day one is spent working with the families to move past their loss, while on day two participants have the option take a literal leap of faith out of an airplane.
“It’s really a great metaphor for the families to embrace the idea that their life and their purpose is attached to a bigger idea and to really let go and step into the unknown,” said Rickert.
Despite war and terror normally linked to September 11th, Rickert see’s that day ten years ago in a different light.
“I think that the legacy of September 11th isn’t the darkness it’s the light,” said Rickert. “It’s the way that we came together as a country the way that we united, the way that we supported each other and the way we took care of each other.”
Operation Support Our Troops will host the seventh annual Rockin’ For The Troops this summer.
The event is responsible for more than $2,500,000 in donations and is headlined by Gary Sinese’s band, the Lieutenant Dan Band.
For information on upcoming event and how to get involved with Operation Support Our Troops visit osot.org.
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