Adopt A U.S. Soldier
Ten Years and still going strong. This organization is a true testament of one mother’s love for her son Paul, who made the commitment to serve his country. Her grass roots movement, along with other determined volunteers wanting to make a difference, ignited the idea which formed this global organization. Currently, their website averages 5.7 hits per second! Ann was the 9 News Cares winner in April of 2009. I had the pleasure to meet with her this week. I found her to be genuine and fun. Being the sweetheart that she is, she brought me a loaf of her homemade pizza bread, and her famous cinnamon rolls! Yum!
IN ANN’S OWN WORDS:
By the grace of God and the help of a whole lot of volunteers, Adopt A US Soldier began during my son’s first deployment to Iraq in 2004/2005.
His battalion of 3,600 soldiers were living in a large airplane hangar in Habbinyah, a small town between Ramadi and Fallujah. Cots were jammed in the hangar to accommodate all 3,600 soldiers, and for the first 5 or 6 months their meals consisted of nothing more than MREs (meals ready to eat).
I learned that no matter how much I sent to Paul it was never enough because he would share everything with his unit. I talked with friends, co-workers and church members for help. The more we sent the more everything was shared, first with Paul’s unit of 7, then with his platoon of 45; and then with his company of 175. Before Christmas of 2004, we had sent Paul 3 microwaves, an x-box, DVD movies, books, magazines, hygiene products and tons of food (microwavable and snacks).
The ‘thank you’ letters from Paul’s company started coming and they tore out my heart.
“Our barracks look like a house on Christmas morning when everyone starts ripping into the packages.”
“All we hear on the news is how against the war everyone is, thanks for giving me hope.”
“You are the real heroes supporting us.”
“If you have time, could you write back?”
I was crying my eyes out when a friend called and asked me what was wrong. I started to read him the letters and he alerted the media.
The 850 KOA interview aired on January 10, 2005 with such a large response I received 600 e-mails. It aired again the next day and that is when the first 3 volunteers came on board. Each called and asked what they could do to help. I asked what their area of expertise was and learned that 1st said clerical, 2nd said web, and 3rd said I am a free lance writer!
On February 4, 2005 we had a web site up and on February 6, 2005 Fox ran a piece that I knew would go out nationally but it went international as well. On February 7, 2005 our first supporter, the Finley’s from Australia, asked if they could “adopt”. We also received a request from an airman, Ryan Boyd, in Ballad, asking how he could get “adopted”.
Adopt A US Soldier organization was up and running with supporters from all over the world.
We became so big we almost crashed, so the web was rebuilt. We are now as big as E-bay and can take 2,000 hits a minute and not go down~!~
Our organization celebrated our 10th birthday on February 4, 2015. We have over 1,200,000 supporters from 182 countries/ territories/ independent states and 51 volunteers that help me. One year ago we had 740,000 supporters in 128 countries and 41 volunteers.
Ann Johnson, Founder
This incredible woman, with her generosity of spirit, has touched so many. Her individual and AAUSS volunteers collective efforts, has provided a link and some comfort from home (and abroad) for our service members. I am proud to be part of the AAUSS society by adopting a soldier. Once you have been assigned a soldier, all your questions and other information needed are easily answered on their website. I invite you to get involved. I have found the AAUSS community to be friendly. I stated this in October of 2014 regarding AAUSS, but it’s worth repeating. “Hats off to them!”
In conclusion, I would like to share the face of the son that launched this organization. (Photo from AAUSS website). Thank you Paul, for serving our country, and thank you Ann, for loving not just your son, but all of our service members as well!