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Deployed Soldiers Network gives touch, taste, asmell of home

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
The Deployed Soldiers Network was started in September 2005 when a woman read about troops of all services in Iraq and Afghanistan who weren't getting any mail while fighting for their country.

"Because of this, I decided to volunteer my time to set up the Deployed Soldiers Network scheme," said Ms. Ria Cabral, founder of DSN. "I write often, focusing on deployed military members who receive little mail, but making sure everyone on my list receives letters, postcards and care packages."

Ms. Cabral started this non-profit group while her husband, Staff Sgt. Michael Cabral, 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was stationed at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom.

"We spread the word about DSN by advertising," she said. "And when we moved to Holloman in October, we brought it with us."

DSN has support throughout the U.S., in the U.K. and some in Australia.
"Our mission is to support our armed forces, wherever they maybe and in whatever way possible so they can focus on the mission at hand and return safely to loved ones when their job is done," said Ms. Cabral. "DSN is dedicated to ensuring our troops know they are loved and supported during, and after, their deployment."

The mission is accomplished by sending care packages - a touch, a taste and a smell of home - as well as personal messages of support.

"Some deployed troops write and request specific items to which they need of and, if we are not 100 percent sure of what they need, we use our best judgment to put together care packages of items we think will be used and are needed," said Ms. Cabral.

There are many care packages the DSN put together such as the male or female hygiene package, a cookie package, a food package, an entertainment package and a keep-in-touch package.

After the packages are put together, the "adopt-a-soldier" family will then send it to the deployed person.

"In a letter, you can introduce yourself as a DSN supporter, thank the troop for their service to our country and let them know a little about yourself, your family, and anything else you would like to share," said Mr. Paul Niemczyk, card team leader from Maine. "They all seem to enjoy hearing about everyday 'back home' activities."

DSN also supports ill and wounded servicemembers via medical centers and military hospitals, said Ms. Cabral. They also want to help and provide support to the ill and injured children in war-torn areas who work alongside deployed troops.

To get involved in DSN, go to the Web site, www.deployedsoldiersnetwork.com, and click on "Make a difference."

"There are many different ways one could become involved and show their support," said Ms. Cabral. The DSN has a number of different teams that work within the DSN, such as the letter writing team and more.

"The DSN was formed through a common bond of respect for, and providing, support to the troops who serve our country with courage, dignity and honor," said Ms. Cabral.

"People have united through a sense of goodwill in a combined effort to provide compassionate support for our deployed troops, from all military branches, and their families."