Dear Hero Program reaches out to deployed troops

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Each year on November 11, Veterans Day is observed as those who served our country are remembered. Both those who sacrificed their lives and those who came home are given respect and commemorated for their selflessness in defending the United States.

At Penn State University, the Dear Hero Program was started by one student who sent her boyfriend care packages while he was deployed overseas. Little did she know that her kind gestures were reaching more than just her boyfriend. He shared her packages with the other troops that were stationed with him.

The tradition continued as she still put together care packages after her boyfriend was stateside once again. Since 2010, the Dear Hero Program has sent 325 care packages.

Saying “thank you”

There are other groups that send care packages to troops and serve veterans once they return home.

Operation Gratitude sends out one million care packages annually to active duty servicemen and women. The organization distributes letters to deployed troops as well as to veterans and wounded warriors. The group also sends care packages to veterans, caregivers of wounded warriors, stuffed animals to the children of deployed troops and supply kits to first responders.

The National AgrAbility Project serves veterans with disabilities that have an interest in agriculture. Many veterans — 44 percent — live in rural areas, so employment in the agricultural sector is a possibility for many of them.

In West Virginia, legislators have worked to create a veterans agriculture program. Like the National AgrAbility Project, the Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Fund will allow for land owned by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to be farmed by veterans.

It isn’t just groups of people who are donating their time and funds raised to veterans. Some individuals have spearheaded events and acts of gratitude for veterans and their service.

Ivan Stoltzfus of Honey Brook, Pa. drove his 1948 John Deere A across the country in 14 weeks. During that time, he travelled 3,400 miles and raise thousands of dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project. This endeavor, known as Across America for Wounded Heroes, is an ongoing project to raise money more money for the Wounded Warrior Project. WWP serves over 58,000 veterans who were physically or mentally injured or wounded on or after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

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