JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
The annual Adopt-a-Service Member Program, sponsored by the United Service Organization
and the 733rd Mission Support Group, returned to Fort Eustis, Virginia, for the
The program aims
to improve service member morale and enhance community relations.
important these young service members know they are thought about and these families
that reach out are caring,” said Danis Lensch, USO of Hampton Roads and Central
Virginia center director.
120 U.S. Army Soldiers and U.S. Air Force Airmen have dinner with local
families who welcome the members into their homes. Each member is able to not
only share in the holiday festivities in a family-oriented setting, but they
also get a chance to represent their units to the community.
units included the 128th Aviation Brigade, Echo Company, 266th Quartermaster’s
Battalion and the 362nd Training Squadron Detachment-1.
in hosting service members sign up to “adopt” a number of service members they
can accommodate and welcome them into their home to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.
family does their best to make anyone feel at home. With a house full of
adopted children, five dogs and seven cats, it’s a wonder how they have been
able to open up their home to service members for the past 12 years.
Stalnik heard about the program 12 years ago from a co-worker and was instantly
interested. She told her husband about it, and being a retired U.S. Air Force
Master Sgt., he agreed it was a great idea.
“When I was
active duty, I didn’t spend that many Thanksgivings at home so I know what it’s
like to be away from everything,” said Thomas “Spike” Stalnik. “I get an
opportunity to share my experiences with them.”
not only host Soldiers in their home, but they hope to become lifelong friends.
They give their number to each Soldier in case they need rides anywhere, need
to get off base for a while or just want to hang out at their home.
should have to spend Thanksgiving alone,” said Andrea. “We keep them as part of
Koch, 128th Aviation Brigade Advanced Individual Training student, was one of
the Soldiers the Stalnik’s hosted.
Koch said he
was nervous because he wasn’t sure what to expect out of the family. He was
excited as this was his first time being out of uniform in eight months.
“If I could
do it again, I would,” Koch said. “I’m really glad we got to play soccer and
play with the Frisbee, but watching the football game (was) the best part.”
Soldiers agreed that it felt like home.
from the Company is a huge de-stressor and the food was really good,” Koch said.
“This is something I would love to do one day.”
plan to continue this tradition for other Soldiers for years to come.
information on the Adopt-a-Service Member Program, call the USOHRCV at (757) 878-2415.