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Tag: community


USO serves record number of troops

Last year was a busy year for the area’s military population: The Washington National Guard’s 81st Brigade Combat Team was in Iraq during the first half of the year, and 18,000 troops from Fort Lewis deployed to the Middle East or Afghanistan. Airmen from McChord served across the world on deployments.

So it’s perhaps no surprise – yet no less laudable – that the USO Puget Sound Area announced yesterday is served a record number of troops during 2009: more than 439,000 people.

It’s the second consecutive year the nonprofit helping service members and their families has set a record.

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Frogs return to the wild of Fort Lewis

Marc Hayes, left, with the Fish and Wildlife Department, and Steve Hash, with the Oregon Zoo, inspect Oregon spotted frogs before they were released into Dailman Lake on Fort Lewis. (Joe Barrentine/The News Tribune)
Marc Hayes, left, with the Fish and Wildlife Department, and Steve Hash, with the Oregon Zoo, inspect Oregon spotted frogs before they were released into Dailman Lake on Fort Lewis. (Joe Barrentine/The News Tribune)

About 70 endangered frogs returned to the wild Tuesday after an infancy spent in captivity – and not just spending their days in a terrarium as field-tripping schoolkids stare at them.

Forty-four of the Oregon spotted frogs spent their first nine months of life at Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Thurston County, where inmates have been raising the amphibians since they first broke through their eggshells.

The frogs returned to their native habitat as part of a pilot project the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife began in 2007 to bring frogs to Fort Lewis, which has acres of intact wetlands where the amphibians can thrive. Frogs formerly were native to the military reservation, but none were found during population surveys in the early 1990s.

Biologists from Fish and Wildlife, Fort Lewis, the Oregon Zoo in Portland and Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle released the frogs amid a downpour near the post’s Dailman Lake.

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Experts explore ways to help troops, families

Many service members returning from war have a difficult time readjusting to life back home. For as many as one-third, they suffer from irritability, nightmares, emotional swings and more: signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

They’re often not the only ones in their household affected.

The change in parent’s behavior can cause confusion, fright, worry, a feeling of being unloved or attachment issues. Some studies indicate they could be suffering from a form of PTSD themselves.

Scott Swaim told a conference room at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center packed with education and medical officials from across the state different ways to address the issue. For many listening to his talk Friday, their job is to spread the word about how to get help for troops and their families.

“Silence is the biggest killer out there,” said Swaim, a mental health counselor from Tacoma who works for the State Department of Veterans Affairs. “You don’t process it. You don’t deal with it.”

Swaim delivered his presentation at the Washington State Military Kids and Families Summit, the third-annual gathering focused on the issues that affect the spouses and children of service members, from health care to strains on marriage to help for kids transferring between school districts.

A panel of teens sharing their experiences of growing up in the military and a speech by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., anchored the summit. The speakers and presenters echoed a similar theme: supporting a service member includes providing help to his or her family.
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Local links, Nov. 2

I was out since Wednesday, and plenty of news happened since then. Allow me, however, to promote my story of the use of burn pits at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, and elsewhere (the story also has this sidebar).

Other local links:

5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division:

Grieving a ‘very brave young man’ [The News Tribune]
Fort Lewis soldier wounded in Afghanistan can’t wait to go back [KING-TV]
Fort Lewis bids farewell to another ‘good soldier’ [The News Tribune]
Fort Lewis MP officer dies in Iraq noncombat incident [The News Tribune]

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Care packages?

A coworker of mine is looking to talk to troops who are deployed or have deployed and received care packages (either from relatives or the general public). She’s planning on writing a story on what to send, what not to send, etc.

Interested in adding your two cents? E-mail me at


Donation drive for 5th Stryker Brigade

Volunteers in Puyallup are collecting snacks, books, playing cards, used CDs and DVDs and other items for soldiers of Fort Lewis’ 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division in Afghanistan.

But the deadline for making donations to Operation Make A Soldier Smile is coming up fast – it’s Monday.

Puyallup has a community connection with the brigade. Donations of food, music, games, stamps, pens, envelopes and personal hygiene supplies may be dropped off at Puyallup City Hall, 333 S. Meridian, or at the Puyallup Chamber of Commerce, 323 N. Meridian, Suite, A, according to a flyer.

The wish list includes non-perishable

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Looking for benefits?

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert’s office e-mailed us media types today to announce he’s hosting a Veterans’ Resource Fair on Saturday in Puyallup.

The event will be 9 a.m. to noon at Ballou Junior High School at 9916 136th St. E. It’s open to all veterans, their families and other interested residents.
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Lakewood to study post growth

Lakewood will study the affect of Fort Lewis’ growth on surrounding communities, thanks to a $1.8 million grant from a Department of Defense agency.

The funding from the Office of Economic Adjustment pays for two studies: one that looks at transportation issues and a growth coordination plan that assesses the strain of post growth on an array of issues, including housing, education, utilities and public safety.

“The growth of Fort Lewis brings development, but it also brings some challenges we need to study,” David Bugher, Lakewood’s assistant city manager, said Tuesday. “It’s definitely having an impact. We just need to figure out exactly what that impact is going to be.”

Lakewood is the lead agency on the study, which will include input from varied stakeholders like the federal government, state government, community colleges, municipalities, ports and school districts.
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