FORT BRAGG, N.C. - More than 400 Soldiers, Families and friends of the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion dove July 9 afternoon at the battalion headquarters into a cool "Slice of Summer." The event was held to beat the summer heat with some Family fun, while also taking in valuable information to help them prepare for the stresses of deployment.

This is the second year that the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion Family Readiness Group has brought together in a fun fair/trade show format, more than 40 Army and Fayetteville organizations that support military Families.

A highlight of the afternoon was the recognition of 14 volunteers associated with the battalion, who were presented the President's Volunteer Service Awards by the Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Herbert Joliat. The Volunteer Service Awards, started by President George W. Bush in 2003, honors Americans who have demonstrated outstanding volunteer service in their communities. Some of the battalion's recipients have volunteered with Give2theTroops in Greenville and with the North Carolina USO.

Families browsed through various exhibits and stations, picking up deployment packages, learning from experts about housing, childcare, legal, safety, education, and other quality of life issues that arise when Soldiers are deployed for long periods of time.

Solid information was mixed with fun, as Families enjoyed a K-9 demonstration, getting animal-shaped balloons from a clown, and other Family activities. A rib-sticking lunch of ribs, hot dogs and salad for all was provided free by the Hope Mills chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

While thanking the chapter for their support of the battalion, Lt. Col. Herbert Joliat also took the moment to sign a charter agreement between the VFW chapter and the battalion, by which the chapter adopted the battalion as its partner for its community service to the military.

Joining Joliat in signing the agreement was the Hope Mills chapter president William Green, who thanked the Soldiers and their Family members for their sacrifices in serving our nation.