uac073113001.gif Raise your glasses for an all American good time. On August 8, Americans will come together to support and honor the people who make sacrifices for freedom everyday — military service members. Jack Daniels and the USO are collaborating to present Toast to the Troops. The event includes stuffing packages to send to deployed military members. To support and entertain the volunteers, as well as the general public, Fort Bragg MWR will a concert performed by Craig Morgan.

The day is broken down into three phases. Starting early, 150 volunteers will be ready for stuffing party. The volunteers are a mixture of military spouses, USO volunteers, Jack Daniels employees and friends. Care packages are to be stuffed with the necessities like razors, shaving cream, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and sunscreen for 7,500 soldiers down range. In addition to these necessities each package will also contain a “toast” card. These cards contain personal messages for the soldiers that Jack Daniels and the USO have collected. After the stuffing party, the volunteers get to enjoy a nice cookout leading up to the prime entertainment — the Craig Morgan concert.

Morgan, a sensational country artist, is also an Army veteran. He spent 10 years on active duty and nine years in the Army Reserve. He has participated in eight Toast to The Troops events in Jacksonville, Fla. In a recent press release, Morgan stated, “I’ve said it before, but being part of every Toast event over the past eight years has been a really rewarding experience for me. Our nation’s service members and their families do so much for us on a daily basis and I hope everyone will come out and join us.”

He has won fans over with his hit songs “Bonfire,” “Wake Up Loving You,” “Almost Home” and “That’s What I Love About Sunday.”

Morgan has participated in every Toast to the Troops, a total of 19 since 2005, but this one has a special importance for the singer. During his military career, Morgan was stationed at Ft. Bragg. “I served there when I was active duty in the Army, and I feel a special kinship with those soldiers and their families currently stationed at Fort Bragg. We can’t wait to get there to show them how much they are appreciated and supported.” Morgan said.

Since the program’s inception, Toast to the Troops events have provided more than 165,000 Operation USO Care Packages to troops overseas. This year is the 20th Toast to the Troops and that is remarkable. Kelli Seely, the USO Senior Vice President of Development and Chief Development Officer said, “Our 20th Toast to the Troops event is a true testament of the dedication and appreciation the Jack Daniels family has for the USO and our nation’s military. We are so grateful for their continuing support to bring a touch of home to those brave men and women serving overseas.”

U.S. Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) aims to create the best atmosphere for soldiers. The mission is to “serve the needs, interests and responsibilities of each individual in the Army community for as long as they are associated with the Army, no matter where they are. They also seek to bridge the gap between the garrison and the local community, and contribute to the Army’s strength and readiness by offering services that reduce stress, build skills and self-confidence for soldiers and their families. The Family and MWR mission is to create and maintain ‘First Choice’ MWR products and services for America’s Army, essential to a ready, self-reliant force.”

Here at Fort Bragg, MWR also strives to provide for soldiers and their family members. “We help to improve the quality of life for soldiers and their families by having quality entertainment and free opportunities for the community. Also, we provide service and a secure family-friendly environment at a very affordable cost,” Rhett Stroupe, special events coordinator of Fort Bragg MWR, said.

Ft. Bragg MWR also holds the Ft. Bragg Fair in May, the July 4th celebration in previous years, the Renaissance Faire in September and other activities and events.

The concert is free and open to the general public — no ticket is necessary — and lawn chairs and blankets are welcome. It is going to be at the Fort Bragg Fairgrounds. The gates open at 4 p.m. and the concert begins at 5 p.m.

“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to entertain soldiers and family and help relieve the stressors of military life,” Stroupe said.

The USO is dedicated to supporting the “spirits of America’s troops and their families millions of times each year at hundreds of places worldwide,” according to the organization’s website. The USO is a private and nonprofit organization, but the organization works closely with the government, as well as corporate partners and dedicated American citizens, to make all of its programs possible. So, for anyone who would like to support service members the Operation USO Care Package is an effective way to help. Due to heightened security, no packages that are marked “Any Service Member” can be mailed, so the USO ensures that the troops are still able to receive a little comfort from home. Since 2003, two million care packages have been sent overseas by the USO. The organization also offers other programs to support active duty military troops and families. For more information about these programs visit the www.uso.org.

Please do not bring pets, large bags, coolers, alcohol, glass, backpacks or weapons to the concert or Fair Grounds. For more information contact 495-1437.

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