FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Fayetteville-Fort Bragg community has several accolades that separate it from nearly every other military town in the U.S. Recently, the community was named one of the top 100 places to live for young people and the list of accomplishments continues to grow.

One organization that plays a big part in showing how much the community appreciates its military members is Fayetteville Cares, which, according to its mission statement, is a community based organization that provides support to our military personnel and their Families before, during and after deployments.

Fayetteville Cares is responsible for thousands of military care packages that include valuable items to sustain the Soldiers during their early stages of deployments. It also provides barracks packs, which help them by providing small personal care items during the units' redeployments.

To ensure that military members, including single Soldiers are not forgotten once they deploy and redeploy, Brenna Berger, a military spouse at Fort Bragg, drafted a grant request to the Armed Service Mutual Benefit Association that would eventually be awarded to Fayetteville Cares.

Berger, who at the time was studying for a professional communication graduate certificate from East Carolina University, drafted the request as a means of satisfying her requirements for a grant and proposal writing course.

The university allowed the students in the course to partner with a non-profit organization and Berger chose Fayetteville Cares, which is headed by Joanne Chavonne, wife of Fayetteville mayor, Tony Chavonne.

"As a Soldier's wife, it breaks my heart to know that some Soldiers are left standing alone at a homecoming. As a mother, even though my children are young, I ache for the moms who wish they could be at Green Ramp to welcome their child home," Berger said in a written statement.

Chavonne explained that the $2,500 received from the grant would be used for Fayetteville Cares' Basics for Barracks program, which provides items that are placed in the barracks of redeploying single Soldiers. She said she was pleased to assist Berger with her request.

"I assisted Mrs. Berger with information on our organization and the Basics for Barracks program specifically to better enable her to complete the application process for the grant," Chavonne said. "The more she understood the program and its reach, the more impassioned she became which came through in her grant writing."

Berger said being married to a Soldier and going through the redeployment experience has also made her more passionate about ensuring that Soldiers are happy and receive a proper welcome once they return from deployments.

"I know the look on my husband's face when he gets off the plane," Berger said. "At first it's relief that he's home and then it turns to joy when he sees the kids. We've always managed to meet the plane when he's come home from a deployment. As a mom, I can't imagine what it would be like to want to be there to meet your son or daughter and to see with your own eyes that they are in one piece, but just can't get there," said Berger, adding that it breaks her heart to know that Soldiers are coming home from a deployment and seeing all the hugging and the crying and the kissing and they are left out of it because no one is there for them.

Chavonne said her organization appreciates Berger's efforts to seek funding for the program.
Because of her, we will be able to continue to provide items to single Soldiers returning from deployments. The Soldiers have often traveled more than 24 hours and are tired, hungry and dirty. Having a snack, bottled water and a pack of laundry detergent in the room when these Soldiers arrive is a small gesture on our part but means so much. We are committed to this program to support these heroes and want to thank Brenna Berger for all her work," Chavonne said.

Berger said she was pleased that ASMBA Star Foundation approved the grant, but she feels that the Basics for Barracks program is one that should be adopted by other military communities.

"I'm thrilled the grant was funded, but it won't cover the costs of the entire program," she said. "I hope the entire Fayetteville community will be inspired to adopt a single Soldier and participate in Basics for Barracks. We hear so much about military Families, and rightfully so, but the single Soldiers are often forgotten. I'd love to see this program adopted by other military communities."

According to the ASMBA STAR Foundation website, www.asmbastar.com, the foundation was created on April 2, 2008, as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, non-commercial, tax exempt corporation located in Nashville, Tenn.

In keeping with the intent of the founders of ASMBA, the ASMBA STAR Foundation is a voluntary association of persons dedicated to improving the quality of life for all military personnel, veterans, and their Families.

Page last updated Fri October 8th, 2010 at 14:31