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STRONG SUPPORTERS. SERIOUS RESULTS.

We embrace every opportunity to advocate for our heroes and their families. Check out this section to see what we have been up to.  Any comments, questions or ideas regarding news, stories or other media material, please contact our media volunteer by Clicking Here

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As Naperville School District 203 was finishing up their donation drive for OSOT-America the Student Council of Lincoln Jr. High came up with an idea. Why not make a video greeting card to send to the troops? The students asked any one who donated to be in the video. On their lunch hour, along with their teacher Mrs. Kim Schatz, they filmed this amazing video! What a great show of patriotism, you kids rock!

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Ronnie Dunn replacing Gary Sinise at Rockin’ for the Troops

Country music's Ronnie Dunn will be the featured performer this summer at the eighth annual Rockin' for the Troops concert at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. He replaces Gary Sinise, the longtime face of the event.

A new headliner will take center stage this summer when the eighth annual Rockin’ for the Troops concert returns to Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

Ronnie Dunn, a member of country music’s Brooks & Dunn until the duo split in 2010, will be the featured performer July 20, filling in for the longtime face of the event, actor and musician Gary Sinise.

Dunn’s debut solo album includes the song “Cost of Livin,’” which is told from the perspective of an unemployed veteran. It notched a Grammy nomination this year for Best Country Song and dovetails with a program developed by the concert’s sponsor, Operation Support Our Troops-America, that equips returning veterans with tools to find employment.

Since its launch, the one-day concert has raised nearly $2.5 million for OSOT-America. Sinise, along with his Lt. Dan Band, has headlined the concert each year, but organizers say he is unable to perform this summer due to a scheduling conflict. He is a sponsor of a tent at the concert for families of troops who have died.

“I think we’ll definitely miss Gary,” said Deborah Rickert, founder of the nonprofit organization. “The event is bigger than any one person. I think we’ll see how different it is with another act there, but I think it’s great to open up and give an opportunity for other entertainers to get involved and show their support as well. If Gary is interested in coming back the year after, it’s certainly something we would consider.”

Kimo Williams, a Vietnam veteran and co-founder and vocalist of the Lt. Dan Band, will return to the concert with a group comprised only of veterans, from the sound and light crews to the musicians. The band covers classic rock and originals.

OSOT-America is funding that effort, said Rickert, who is the mother of two sons on active duty, one of whom is set to deploy to Afghanistan in several months.

“I think it’s a great way to keep the history of the event intact,” she said.

OSOT-America also is considering an anniversary celebration that would likely lead in to the concert based on this year’s concert theme, “Only in America,” the name of a Brooks & Dunn hit.

“All of the things that we have been able to do really is a uniquely American story,” Rickert said.

She started OSOT-America in her Naperville dining room in 2003, planning to send Valentine’s Day care packages to overseas troops with a couple of moms. From those humble beginnings, the concert now attracts about 10,000 people to Cantigny with families scheduling their reunions around the usually sold-out event.

Concert proceeds support shipping costs for care packages as well as other programs including “Leap of Faith.” OSOT-America hosts three seminars each year for families of fallen troops that culminates in a tandem-sky dive with the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights or the 101st Airborne Division’s parachute team. Earlier this month, a record number of participants attended a seminar in Florida, Rickert said.

“It really encourages family members to kind of get back to living again because that’s what your loved one would expect,” Rickert said. “Our focus has been to kind of broaden that program to allow more people to participate.”

OSOT-America also funds research into treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury and helps returning troops translate their skills to the civilian world through resume writing and mentoring from Vietnam veterans. The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was 11.7 percent in January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I think it’s really a good time to shed some light on the issue of the unemployed veteran,” Rickert said. “We have gotten very involved in trying to work with corporations and educate them about the value of hiring veterans.”

And the Dunn single — “Cost of Livin’” — aligns with that mission, Rickert said.

“I think it really demonstrates the heart that Ronnie Dunn has for our troops and veterans,” she said.

Rockin’ tickets are $25. To reserve tickets, visit osotamerica.org.

By Katlyn Smith  Daily Herald, Article updated: 2/13/2013

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The December, 2012 edition of Spotlight on Naperville featured OSOT America!  Click here  to visit their website, then scroll down and click on Operation Support Our Troops to see the interview or click on the link below.

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Dozens flock to ‘Smitherman’s Brigade’ event in Elburn

By AL LAGATTOLLA - alagattolla@shawmedia.com  Created: Sunday, September 9, 2012

Justin Smitherman announces a raffle winner Sunday at a fundraising event for Smitherman's Brigade at Schmidt's Towne Tap in downtown Elburn. The event raised funds for Operation Support Our Troops, with auction items and raffles available. (Al Lagattolla – alagattolla@shawmedia.com)

ELBURN – Joined by a crew that wore matching light-green shirts reading “Smitherman’s Brigade,” Justin Smitherman eagerly greeted all who showed up for his inaugural fundraiser Sunday afternoon at Schmidt’s Towne Tap in downtown Elburn.

The event featured raffles and items up for auction. It also served as a viewing party for the Bears’ season-opening victory against the Indianapolis Colts, as crowds gathered on the outside deck at Schmidt’s. Smitherman, an Elburn resident, and his crew were selling the raffle tickets, with many winners announced at halftime….

Hampshire resident Tracy Vaughn, who described herself as Carly Smitherman’s best friend, was wearing a “Smitherman’s Brigade” shirt and helping sell raffle tickets. She said she was happy to help.

“He’s a really good guy,” Vaughn said. “And it’s nice that the community came together.”

West Chicagoresident Jenny Pietanza was there, dressed in a Walter Payton jersey. She brought a box filled with red bottles from her bank, Bank of America, and she was encouraging people to sign the bottles, saying that the bank would donate a dollar to the Wounded Warrior Project for each bottle signed. She said she was there to help Smitherman’s cause – and also to buy a raffle ticket in hopes of winning a widescreen TV.

“Absolutely,” she said when asked if his was a favorite cause of hers. “I have a lot of friends who are veterans, friends and family members.”

Justin Smitherman said he was proud of his time spent in the Air Force, but he said there are other ways to help as well. He said joining the military is a “hard choice” for people to make, but that those who want to help can choose to donate in fundraisers, or work with the Red Cross.

“The military is not for everybody,” he said. “But it’s really, really good for a lot of people

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College of DuPage Sponsors Rockin’ for the Troops

Matt Russell Journatic News Service, July 9, 2012

The College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn is serving as a premier sponsor for this year’s Rockin’ for the Troops, to be held at noon Saturday, July 21 at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

During the event, student volunteers will assist veterans from Hines VA Hospital. College of DuPage will also have a booth staffed by members of its Student Veterans Association with insights about their experiences at the college after returning from active duty to civilian life.

“College of DuPage has made a strong commitment to our veterans,” said Shelly Mencacci, College of DuPage’s coordinator of veterans services, according to a press release. “And we continue to find ways to meet their needs as they transition back into civilian life. It’s important for us to continue supporting Rockin’ for the Troops, a fun event that is also a venue to show support and appreciation for our veterans and their families.”
Musical acts include Motown tribute band The Voices, Seventh Heaven Band playing rock covers and original music, Big John Howell and Amy Jacobson with Born to Boogie Band and Isabella Nanni. Headlining the night’s performances is Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band. Tickets are $25 per person.

Rockin’ for the Troops has raised more than $2 million for veterans and their families across the country. Attendees are asked to bring comfort items and care packages to be donated to Operation Support Our Troops — America. The organization assembles and sends packages to deployed troops and military field hospitals.

College of DuPage is the only community college ever to receive the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and has received special recognition for the past three years from G.I. Jobs.

For more information about College of DuPage veterans services, visit cod.edu/admission/veterans.

For more information about Rockin’ for the Troops and to purchase tickets, visit rockinforthetroops.org.

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Local Midas to donate oil change receipts to Operation Support our Troops

Hugh and Jan Bosset will donate oil change receipts Sat., July 7 to OSOT – America.

Positively Naperville, Posted on July 1, 2012 by PN Ombudsman

Local Midas dealers Jan and Hugh Boeset will be donating the retail price of all regular oil changes sold on Sat., July 7 to Operation Support Our Troops – America.  The event takes place at the Fox Valley Mall Midas location from 7AM until 4PM.  Refreshments, prizes and OSOT-America volunteers will be on-hand.

“The Midas dealers in the Chicagoland area are working together to support efforts to show our servicemen and women how much we appreciate the sacrifices they are making for all of us,” said Midas dealer Hugh Boeset.  “And we encourage our customers and others to help us accomplish this through events like this one at our Fox Valley Mall Midas location.”

The 76 Midas Automotive Service Centers in the greater Chicago market are teaming with Operation Support our Troops-America to be drop off centers for donations for use in comfort and care packages the non-profit organization sends to troops serving overseas.

Contributed items sought for the packs include non-perishable products such as toothpaste, hand-wipes, candy, peanut butter, antacids, batteries, magazines, books and powdered drink mixes.  Midas shops also will provide stationery for personal messages included in the packages, as well as paper and crayons for children to draw pictures for the troops.

The local Midas shops also are a sponsor of the “Rockin’ For the Troops” event featuring Gary Sinise of television’s CSI: NY and his Lt. Dan Band on Saturday, July 21 at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL.  Full event details are available at www.rockinforthetroops.org.

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WYLL’s Karl Clausen and Deborah Rickert

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GI Jobs

By Susan Frick Carlman Naperville Sun June 16, 2012

Members of the American Legion Post 43 in Naperville, Terry Jelinek and Jean Hilderbrand raise the flag at the Day Without Hunger at the Loaves and Fishes Community Pantry on Thursday, June 14, 2012. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media

Soldiers don’t often talk about all they saw. Ed Hoy has been asked, many times — usually by people much younger than he is — whether he killed anybody.

”You don’t want to talk about the bad things,” said Naperville resident Hoy, 91, an Army tech sergeant who served in the European theater during World War II. “Just talk about the good things.”

It proves challenging some days. But as returning veterans face woes ranging from pronounced combat stress to heightened joblessness, they’re finding an awakening recognition of not only what they gave over there, but what they need here. An array of programs has been created to focus on the distinct workplace value of veterans, who aren’t always comfortable talking about themselves.

At 12.7 percent, joblessness among those who have served active duty since 2001 ran more than 50 percent higher than that of the general population last month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate workforce-wide had fallen one-half percent from the 2011 level, while it had risen by more than that much among vets by May.

Mike Barbour is one of numerous military advocates involved in efforts to link out-of-work vets with people who would do well to hire them.

“A lot of these guys went into the military right after high school, so they really have no frame of reference in how to go out and compete with other job seekers. The other thing is they have a hard time translating their military skills to the regular workplace,” said Barbour, a Naperville resident and director of veterans resources for Operation Support Our Troops.

Barbour helped with a Hiring Our Heroes event in Chicago at the end of March that drew some 1,500 veterans. It was one of more than 200 job fairs for vets coordinated nationwide so far this year by the National Chamber Foundation. Marine Reservist Mark Scott of Naperville works on the initiative for the nonprofit, which shares downtown office space with the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We set up hiring fairs and workshops to educate veterans in the way of resume building, workplace etiquette — and for employers, the benefits of hiring veterans,” said Scott, a 2009 graduate of Neuqua Valley High School.

Navistar, headquartered in Lisle, provided interview coaching at the spring job fair.

“(Vets) have tremendous amounts of leadership experience and are able to function at a high level with very little assistance,” said company spokeswoman Elissa Koc. “What Navistar and their partners have done is help veterans use their talents to highest use … We’re helping translate those skill sets.”

While their education experience can vary from a high school diploma to an advanced degree, vets share some common qualities prospective bosses need to know about: multi-tasking, leadership skills and working well with others.

“That’s what military duty is all about, moving outside your comfort zone,” Scott said. “And we’re problem solvers. … In a military setting, there are things that are brought out in you.”

The Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry this week kicked off a new program under its hunger-prevention Pathways to Empowerment initiative. A partnership with the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Services, the effort will draw in vets and their families.

“They really look across the board at what the needs of the family are,” said Jane MacDonald, senior program director at the pantry, who noted that vets sometimes are not aware of all their options. “An interview with a family member sometimes can spot those things that might be available.”

Barbour thinks there’s reason for veterans to feel optimistic.

“I think they understand that there are people out there who want to help,” he said. “The thing we try to tell them, and I think they understand it, is, ‘This is the same kind of thing you did when you were in the field. Your mission is to find a job.’”

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BMO Harris Employees and Veterans Send Off Donations for Operation Support Our Troops America

BMO Harris Bank employees team up with Hubert to deliver 650 lbs of items to Operation Support Our Troops America. Credit BMO Harris Bank

Posted by BMO Harris Bank, Lisle Patch - June 15, 2012

As part of this year’s BMO Employee Volunteer Day, BMO Harris Bank branches throughout Illinois donated over $7,000 worth of items to Operation Support Our Troops America (OSOT America).

The bank partnered with Bin Donated for the OSOT America donation drive, a Chicago-based charity specializing in partnering with companies to collect and distribute in-kind donations to Chicago area non-profits.

Employees and Bin Donated delivered the 650 pounds of items from branches across Illinois to the Operation Support Our Troops Warehouse in Lisle on June 14. Items included toiletries, first aid supplies, medicine, and food. Marisol Wallscetti, BMO Harris Bank Manager and Co-Chair of the bank’s Veterans Advisory Council, led the team effort on Thursday.

“Bin Donated is thrilled to partner with BMO Harris for the second year. This is a fantastic way to engage the employees and the community for an important cause and we are proud to be involved,” said Geeta Singh, Bin Donated’s Executive Director.

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WIND’s Steve Cochran and Deborah Rickert


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They Made Us Strong – by Deborah Rickert

American Women Media, May 29, 2012

We were a pretty typical family and right up until the morning of September 11, 2001 we remained just that. My husband Bill was traveling that morning, but I had confirmed he was safely on the ground in San Diego. I was en route to pick up my boys from school to keep them close to me as the hours passed. We, along with the rest of the country, watched and waited to see how the events of the tragic day unfolded. I didn’t know it then, but that was the day that we became a military family.

If you watch even a little television, you have surely seen the Army Recruiting Campaign Commercials.

The 60-second spots show conversations between parents and children discussing their choice to become a soldier. Though there is a hint of uncertainty in the eyes of these parents – understandable after ten years of war – their pride is unmistakable.

The young man or woman looking self-assured in their Army Greens has made a transformation from child to soldier in an apparent short period of time. The commercial ends with the phrase that always strikes at my heart: “You made them Strong, we’ll make them Army Strong.”

Perhaps the obvious reason for my call to attention when hearing that phrase is acclaimed actor and military advocate, Gary Sinise, who is often heard quoting it. Through the organization that I founded nine years ago, I have had the privilege of working closely with Mr. Sinise to produce “Rockin’ for the Troops,” a day of celebration and support for military, families and veterans held at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois.

The event has helped to raise millions of dollars for the cause, and Gary and his Lt. Dan Band always leave the crowd with a sense of good old-fashioned American pride. He has been dubbed the “Bob Hope” of this generation of American military, and he deserves every accolade bestowed on him. So naturally, I would smile when I hear his voice reiterating the Army’s commitment to strengthening the young men and woman in their charge.

But something about the ad nagged me for a long time and I just couldn’t put my finger on what that was. Like the itch you couldn’t scratch, it would be there every time I heard the phrase.

What was it about that phrase that was so perplexing? I found myself reflecting on what it was actually saying. “You made them strong…”

We did? What did we do that made them so strong? I don’t remember any one particular thing that would allow me to take credit for preparing them to be made ‘Army Strong.’ In fact, we were a “normal,” middle income, suburban American family like any other. We worked hard to balance life and work, but at the center of our world were our three growing, sometimes challenging, yet typically boisterous young sons.

Yes, we were a pretty typical family and right up until the morning of September 11, 2001 we remained just that. My husband Bill was traveling that morning, but I had confirmed he was safely on the ground in San Diego.   I was en route to pick up my boys from school to keep them close to me as the hours passed. We, along with the rest of the country, watched and waited to see how the events of the tragic day unfolded.

I didn’t know it then, but that was the day that we became a military family.

Our oldest son Dan, a senior in high school, like many young Americans was profoundly impacted by the events of that day.   With his father out of town and no other family members nearby, he was suddenly the “Man of the House.”

Remembering all of the times that his father would travel and say to him “you’re the man of the house while I’m gone,” Dan evolved into a different person that day.   No longer the wise cracking teenager, he now solemnly watched as his country suffered a devastating attack. We all lost a large part of our innocence that day in a matter of hours.

Dan pursued an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point and four years later was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the United States Army.   Our family watched; their pride evident as he swore his oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.

Perhaps he didn’t notice but amidst the pride his parents wore that glint of uncertainty, and maybe even fear, as to what the future might bring.

My son’s courage, along with that of a whole new generation of young Americans ready and willing to place themselves between myself and a dangerous enemy, inspired me to begin Operation Support Our Troops – America (www.osotAmerica.org).

It was my hope that we, as Americans, would treat this generation of military differently than we had in the past and show support for these troops and their families.

While Dan progressed through his years at West Point I became friends with many military families and watched as they sent their loved ones off to one of the many fronts that we were now fighting on. With awe, I wondered how they remained so strong through the long deployments – and often weeks of no contact.

More often than I can recall, when I would ask how or where they mustered the strength, a mother or father would say to me “I’m strong because they are strong.” That sounded impressive, but honestly, I had no idea what that actually meant… until that day came for me.

It was a crisp Colorado morning. Buses were lined up and waiting to load a wave of soldiers for the beginning of what would be a long journey to their “home away from home” for the next year.

My soldier had not wanted me to be there to say goodbye. As a young Lt., he felt that a weepy mother of his own to deal with would impair his ability to instill confidence in the families of the men and woman in his charge.

Nonetheless, there I was, with a promise to be strong and not shed a tear.   He was the picture of calm professionalism. Where had he learned that?   Hesitating perhaps only briefly as I hugged him hard and choked out “come home safe, Honey,” he said goodbye.

Through the next 12 months I began to understand.

Whatever it was that we had done to make him strong, it was his strength that would carry me through the fear, the pain of separation, and the heartache of loneliness for that person you love so deeply.

All too often, I am now asked that same question I once asked of other military parents. It was only after seeing Dan’s reassurance and pride in what he was doing, unyielding positive spirit and sense of humor, and witnessing his own humble courage, that I acquired my strength.

The phrase emphasizes how we “made them strong,” but in actuality my strength comes from my sons.

We raised our boys no different than any other loving family. We provided them with the love and support as they have provided us with the joys and memories – and several speeding tickets. The decisions they have made were all their own and their strength never ceases to amaze me.

As our second son Dave followed shortly behind Dan to also pursue a military career, we again looked on proudly as our little boy became a soldier. That familiar echo of fear and uncertainty reemerged, but was soon quieted after witnessing his confidence and self-assuredness.

In a military family, everyone serves.

We have encouraged our sons to serve in their own individual ways. We always emphasized that “what you are is a gift from God, but what you make of yourself if your gift back to God.”

So when our youngest son Joe decided to forgo a military career – perhaps because he’d already participated in several mock training events initiated by his more than willing older brothers – he filled a role that was essential to our family. Joe became the rock that we all came to lean on. When our other sons are absent, Joe’s reminds us of the strength we have as a family to hold together, even when we’re far apart.

As my work in Operation Support Our Troops – America, Inc. has grown from my dining room table to encompass multiple warehouses and even larger venues; my husband and sons continue to be my source of strength and inspiration.

They know firsthand the long hours, sleepless nights, and constant juggling act I’ve maintained running both a household and a non-profit organization.

Like any working mother there are still days when I feel fear or anxiety and doubt my own ability to “hold it all together.”   But looking at the men they have each become, I am quieted with the assurance that the values of faith, family and love will continue to give me the same strength it has given them.

Deborah Rickert has two sons serving in the army and is the founder Operation Support Our Troops – America, launched from her kitchen table in 2003. She has dedicated her time and energy to helping troops by collecting donations of snacks, toiletries and other comforts not readily available to soldiers and sending the comfort kits overseas. Since then, the organization has raised millions of dollars for the military and their families, and shipped more than 35,000 care packages to deployed service members

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Rockin’ for the Troops Kickoff – May 3, 2012

Actor Gary Sinise Supporting Veterans

Hollywood actor Gary Sinise is helping promote a summer concert in suburban Chicago that will benefit veterans.

The “Forrest Gump” star helped kickoff ticket sales for “Rockin’ for the Troops” on Thursday (May 3, 2012) at the Navistar headquarters in Lisle.

The concert is planned for July 21 in nearby Weaton. Sinise is slated to perform with his Lt. Dan Band, which is named for his character in the Oscar-winning movie.

The Daily Herald reports (Click Here) that proceeds will benefit Operation Support Our Troops America. The Naperville-based charity has raised $2 million for projects benefiting veterans, including research on post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Sinise says “we all enjoy what the military provides for us.”

Officials from Navistar and other companies also announced efforts to hire returning veterans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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VFW Post 3873 Veteran of the Month: William T. Archer

Naperville Sun, January 13, 2012

William T. Archer, 69, served in the Army from 1965 to 1968, including a stint in Vietnam. Here he is pictured with actor Gary Sinise.

William T. Archer

Rank: First Lieutenant

Branch of service: U.S. Army

Current age: 69 years old

Total years served: Two years 10 months

Served from: 1965 to 1968

Places served: Fort Leonard Wood Kansas, Fort Sill Oklahoma, Fort Lewis Washington, Vietnam 4th Infantry Division 5th Battalion 16th Artillery and Fort Polk Louisiana

Job or specialty: Fire direction officer and battalion ammunitions officer

Fondest memory while serving: “While making an official visit with our battalion doctor to a Montagnard village in highlands of Vietnam, the village chief was very pleased with our visit and the medical service we provided. In appreciation, he asked/demanded that the doctor and I drink some of his finest ceremonial rice wine. Their custom was that we sip his wine from a large earthenware container through a long bamboo straw in one long breath or until the chief felt he had adequately satisfied his need to thank us. Anything less than a very, very long sip was considered an insult. We finished our mission, and on return, my tent mate doctor suggested we down several days’ worth of penicillin just in case the chief might not have followed Army approved purification precautions. Doc and I had a good laugh and fond memories of the mission, and very happy there were no after effects.”

Quote: “I am very proud to be able to support our troops by volunteering with Operations Support Our Troops, America. The wars continue, and OSOT-America is able to bring the troops a little comfort from home, and show those in harm’s way that the country supports them and everything they are doing for us. Their service is a difficult sacrifice, and I for one am thankful for all their sacrifices.

Every month the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873 in Naperville chooses a Veteran of the Month.

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Operation Support Our Troops – America Launches Military Awareness Campaign and Comfort Package Drive with MB Financial Bank

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)– On Monday, Nov. 7, 2011, Operation Support Our Troops-America (OSOT America) will be joined by Gov. Pat Quinn and MB Financial Bank to launch its

OSOT America and MB Financial Launch "America Has NOT Forgotten"

“America has NOT Forgotten” awareness campaign.

“The campaign is a national effort to remind Americans that thousands of young men and women continue to serve in dangerous places around the world,” said OSOT America President Deb Rickert. “It is based on the fact that after ten years of war, our military and their families are weary and now, more than ever, they need to know that America supports and cares for them. Currently less than 1% of America’s population serves in some branch of the Armed Forces. The ‘America Has NOT Forgotten’ campaign is aimed at bridging the gap of understanding between them and the rest of the population that does not serve.”

The campaign will include educational information as well as a “Call to Action” that asks each American to commit to accomplishing at least one simple task from a suggested list that shows their support for our men and women serving. These tasks include writing a weekly note of support to service members and flying the flag at half-mast on the last Friday of each month in honor of those lost in the war during that month.

As part of the campaign, for a second year, all 90 Chicagoland locations of MB Financial Bank will serve as drop-off locations for comfort items to be sent to troops throughout the month of November. These items include Slim Jims or beef jerky, granola bars, canned nuts (20 oz. or less), eye drops, non-aerosol shaving cream and foot powder (20 oz. or less). Chicago Messenger will help move all items from MB to OSOT America’s distribution center. Go to www.osotamerica.org for a complete list of items. In addition, for every person who “likes” MB on Facebook from Nov. 7 through Nov. 30, MB will donate $1 to OSOT America.

“This is MB’s second year as the collection sponsor,” says Mitch Feiger, president, MB Financial Bank. “While on the surface it may not look like it’s a logical partnership, it is. We are a Chicago-based bank with a 100-year tradition of being active in the neighborhoods we serve. We know that we have customers – and employees – who have made the great sacrifice of serving or having a loved one deployed and serving in harm’s way. What better way to show our gratitude and support for these families than to partner with OSOT-America. And our support isn’t just in November. In September of this year, MB employees went to OSOT-America to lend a hand at their distribution centers for our volunteer day called MB on the Block.”

OSOT America is a 501 (c)(3) volunteer based organization that supports the morale and wellbeing of American forces by providing comfort, resources and education to them and their families while they are deployed and after their return. Since inception OSOT America has shipped approximately 900,000 pounds of goods to troops around the world. OSOT America also provides financial support to military and veteran support organizations such as Fisher House and Hines VA Hospital.

MB Financial Bank (www.mbfinancial.com) is a locally-operated financial institution that has been delivering competitive personalized service for 100 years to businesses and individuals who live and work in the Chicago metropolitan area. MB Financial Bank’s holding company, MB Financial, Inc., is traded on NASDAQ as “MBFI.”

*Please note:  ”OSOT-America shall not participate in or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public offices.”

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OPERATION SUPPORT OUR TROOPS – AMERICA

September 30, 2011.  The Darien-Woodridge Fire District, along with Local 3437, are again joining forces in Operation Support Our Troops – America (OSOT). Every Friday members will be allowed to wear red “duty” T-shirts to promote this effort, and keep awareness of the troops high. Additional information about OSOT can be found at www.osotamerica.org. The Fire District will also serve as a collection point for supplies to be sent overseas during the month of October.

A list of items being requested is available at each Darien-Woodridge fire station, which will also serve as a drop off point. In addition, each fire vehicle will have lists to give out to the public. The list of items will also be available on our web site at www.dwfd.org. All donations should be in the original package and not wrapped, as all items must be visible. The fire stations are located at 7550 Lyman, Darien, 5901 Belmont and 8687 Lemont Rd, both in unincorporated Downers Grove.

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OPERATION SUPPORT OUR TROOPS – AMERICA DONATES $125,000 TO STEVEN SILLER FOUNDATION

Deb Rickert presenting $125,000 check to Frank Siller of the Siller Foundation

Pinning an OSOT America pin on Jon Voight


September 11, 2011.  Deb Rickert had the privilege of spending three days in New York City with families of FDNY who perished on 9/11/2001 and to present a check for $125,000 to our partner organization, the Steven Siller Foundation, to build a home for Cpl John Peck, who lost all four of his limbs in Afghanistan.

The Foundation is named after FDNY hero Steven Siller who left behind five young children when he died on 9/11 after running through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel to the burning World Trade Center. The foundation that bears Siller’s name has dedicated itself to helping other kids who have lost parents.

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Click Here to Read the full article as published in the Lisle Patch

OPERATION SUPPORT OUR TROOPS MEMBERS PROVE THAT COMPASSION IS HEALING

Every other week members meet to prepare boxes of snacks, books and other comforts of home for the men and women overseas. For many it’s a labor that springs from love.

By Karlie Baker, September 10, 2011 Lisle Patch

On the packing line, each OSOT volunteer is responsible for one box from beginning to end. Photo by Karlie Baker

Operation Support Our Troops – America (OSOT) wants the men and women overseas to know that someone’s thinking about them. They do so with boxes crammed to the very brim with candy, puzzle books, drink mix packets, crackers and handmade cards.

“You’d be surprised how few of them get mail,” said Oak Park resident Lynne Wojcik. Her own son, Adam, served two tours in Iraq, but returned to civilian life around three years ago.

The organization is completely volunteer-run, shipping out more than 5,000 boxes annually. Recipients are added to the organization’s list via email referrals.

Army veteran Zach Arnold started his involvement with the organization as a recipient. The Naperville resident said he asked his mother to send him packages when he deployed in 2006. Since she was an OSOT volunteer, she obliged.

Arnold suffered injuries from an improvised explosive device in May of 2007. He spent a year rehabilitating, and tagged along to packaging days when he returned to the area. He’s remained involved ever since.

While volunteers simply refer to them as packages, ‘care package’ is a fitting term. Around 35 volunteers are present in OSOT’s Lisle warehouse on Sept. 10, and many of them have personal ties to individuals on active duty. The task is very close to their hearts.

Elmhurst resident Megan Osgood said she’s been particularly active with the group since the deployment of her fiancé, Joe, at the beginning of the year. Osgood “likes knowing other guys are out there with him.” She said OSOT’s efforts are a way for volunteers to show the troops they never leave their loved one’s thoughts.

“This is something they genuinely look forward to. One of them can be having a bad day or a bad week, get back from a mission literally days long, and come back to this awesome box that’s been packed just for them,” she said.  (Click Here to Read the full article in the Liisle Patchwebsite)

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HOUSE SPEAKER MEETS WITH VETERANS

Sun-Times Media August 18, 2011 1:04PM

One Iraq veteran got a chance to speak his mind to someone who just might have the chance to make a difference in the long run.

In August, 2011 Speaker of the House, John Boehner, toured the OSOT America operation and spent time taking with President, Deb Rickert and wounded warrior Zach Arnold about military family and veteran concerns.

Operation Support Our Troops — America member Zach Arnold spoke with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently during a tour of the group’s Lisle warehouse.

“I was shocked when Deb (Rickert) asked me to come and meet with the speaker,” Arnold said. “Then for him to take the time to really talk with me helped me to feel that he cared about my concerns.”

Boehner was especially interested in hearing from Arnold, who lost his leg while serving in Iraq.

“We are a nation at war, and thanks to groups like Operation Support Our Troops — America, our men and women in uniform and their families know that the American people are completely behind them,” Boehner said.

Rickert, president and founder of OSOT America, said Boehner’s visit was a good opportunity for the Naperville-based organization.

“The speaker was really interested in seeing what we were doing to make a difference and hearing about the concerns of local military families,” Rickert said. “It was a great opportunity for us to express our vision that all of America be invested in our troops and their well being.”

Operation Support Our Troops — America was founded in 2003.  Happy Birthday.

*Please note:  ”OSOT-America shall not participate in or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public offices.”

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Click Here to Read the full article as published in the Daily Herald

WHEATON CONCERT SUPPORTS TROOPS, FAMILIES

By Megan Bannister, July 14, 2011 Daily Herald

In 2003, Deborah Rickert set out to make a difference.

Her goal was simple: to support members of the military and their families by any means possible.

“I started the organization after my son decided, as a result of Sept. 11, to go into the military,” said Rickert, founder and president of Operation Support Our Troops-America, or OSOT-America.

At first, the group held small fundraisers to subsidize the $25 postage on care packages being sent overseas to members of the military.

Eight years later, Rickert has the success of Rockin’ for the Troops, a one-day concert held this year on Saturday, July 16, in Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road, in Wheaton, to show for her dedication.

“One of the biggest benefits of the day is that it serves as an outward show of support,” Rickert said.

She believes that local military families often feel isolated or alone in their experiences, as “there is no military base nearby.”

“It’s a way for people to really come together as the years and years of war and the deployment cycles have gone on,” Rickert said.

For the first time, the event will be broadcast live to troops overseas as a continuing show of OSOT-America’s support.

Actor Gary Sinise, well-known for his role as Lt. Dan in the film “Forrest Gump,” also will return for this year’s event with his Lt. Dan Band.

“I was there the first year and we’ve been coming back ever since,” Sinise said. “It’s a concert that I look forward to each year. They do such great things to support our troops.”

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Click Here to Read the full article as published in the Local Trib.

GRANT & POWER LANDSCAPING, INC. PRESENTS CHECK FOR $10,000 TO OPERATION SUPPORT OUR TROOPS – AMERICA, INC.

By Anna Semprevivo June 30, 2011 at 11:17 a.m.

Gene Grant of Grant & Power Landscaping, Inc. will be presenting the volunteers of Operation Support Our Troops – America, Inc (OSOT – America) with a check for $10,000. This is the fifth consecutive year that Grant & Power Landscaping, Inc. has donated to the organization. Grant & Power’s donations were given to sponsor the OSOT – America warehouse. The warehouse is used to take in donations of collected items that the organization will then pack and send to American troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations around the world.

Grant & Power Landscaping is also donating $1.00 to OSOT – America for each person who “LIKES” them on Facebook.

“This is a dream come true for us,” said OSOT – America President Deb Rickert. “We have been operating out of a warehouse donated to us by a Vietnam Vet for the last five years but as we have grown we have required more space to continue to meet our goals. Grant & Powers’ generosity is overwhelming.”

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Click Here to Read the full article as published in the Courier-News.

HUNDREDS SUPPORT FREEDOM BASH TO KEEP CARE PACKAGES COMING FOR U.S. TROOPS OVERSEAS

By Romi Herron For The Courier-News Updated June 14, 2011 2:12PM

Hand-knit liners for combat helmets are just one of the items U.S. military servicemen and women receive from Operation Support OurTroops America, a non-profit organization that collects essentials through local events and sends them overseas. .  . .

Nancy Baier of Libertyville is an operations coordinator with Operation Support Our Troops America and supervised the volunteers at the Freedom Bash.

“This event, and Hanover Township itself, collects donations throughout each month for us so they keep our troops well taken care of,” said Baier, who invests about 15 hours per week for the cause. . .

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Click Here to read the entire article as published in Reuters.

SEARS NAMES WINNER OF HEROES AT HOME “PORTRAITS OF HEROES” SONG CONTEST WITH COUNTRY MUSIC STAR JOSH GRACIN

Spring Program Drives Support for Troops through Music and Donations

Hoffman Estates, Ill. (June 14, 2011)—In recognition of our country’s military heroes, Sears today announces the winner of the national Heroes at Home “Portraits of Heroes” song contest with country music singer and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Josh Gracin. The contest called upon Americans to submit their personal stories about a military hero in their life. The winning entry, selected by Gracin, reflects a military spouse’s journey to meet and marry her best friend, his dedication to service and now her commitment to keeping his memory alive with their son. The song, which is based on this powerful story, will be written and recorded by Gracin this month and revealed in a special performance by Gracin at the Operation Support our TroopsAmerica“Rockin’ for the Troops” concert in Wheaton, Ill., on July 16.

“I am honored to be a part of such a profound initiative that recognizes our troops and all that they do to protect our country,” said Gracin. “As a former military member, I can understand both the hardships families go through and the pride they feel for their loved ones, whether they are currently in combat or retired. Having the opportunity to take someone’s personal story and turn it into a song that so many people can relate to is truly special.”

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Click on the article below for the full story as published in Pos!tively Naperville.

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Click on the Photo below for the full story as published in the Daily Herald

Actor Gary Sinise signs care packages at the Rockin' Kickoff to be sent to our troops overseas.