RADCLIFF, Ky. – Care packages have probably been around since the first warriors left home to fight in some far off place. The special boxes or bundles have meant the world to the recipients for the small amount of comfort provided or the little thoughts of home.
Operation Resilient Warrior, a Radcliff, Ky. based organization, just down the road from Fort Knox, has adopted the unit as a means to thank them for their service to our country and for the meaningful work they are doing in Afghanistan.
“We pack love into these boxes,” said Christy Faulkner, founder and director of Operation Resilient Warrior. “We’re just getting started, and we’re ready to keep supporting them all the way through their deployment.”
ADT 5 recently mobilized and are scheduled to spend nine-months in Afghanistan continuing the work of previous Kentucky teams in the fields of the country.
New socks, clean wipes, hand warmers and snacks were packed along with Kentucky magazines and notes from local school children, some as young as 3rd graders.
Faulkner said the majority of the donations that fill the boxes have come from 4-H clubs and FFA (Future Farmers of America) from nearby counties.
Operation Resilient Warrior supports other units from around the nation, as well as individuals who have stayed in contact with them through multiple tours abroad. They have sent more than 125 boxes overseas in the first three weeks of December. Faulkner said their support knows no bounds; soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen from across the country are on their mailing list. But she said ADT 5 is different.
“I love all of my soldiers and families, but these are our friends and neighbors. I was born and raised here (in Kentucky), my heart is here, so to be able to support people in your own community and your own state, it means everything.”
“It’s close to home, and it’s a family thing.”
A chance meeting between Faulkner’s daughter and the Citizen-Soldiers of ADT 5 in Elizabethtown, Ky., prior to their departure sparked the relationship. As a member of the Mead County FFA, the 17-year-old is agriculturally minded, potentially pursuing a degree in the field from a Kentucky university. When she met ADT 5, she was impressed with the team’s mission of assisting Afghans improve their own agriculture.
As one of the organization’s volunteers, she immediately told her mother that she wanted to do something for this unique unit. They quickly began collecting donations for the care packages.
Several weeks later, the boxes were ready to go and should arrive in Afghanistan by Christmas. Faulkner said after the packages are shipped, she would start collecting for next month’s shipment. As 2013 begins, Operation Resilient Warrior aims to provide packages for at least 225 service members overseas.
Many of the nonprofit’s volunteers have more than one tie to the military and Christy Faulkner is no different. She has been volunteering with military organizations for years, she has worked at the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Knox and her husband has been there in uniform. She said she has surrounded herself with “a lot of good people doing a lot of very good things.”
“Operation Resilient Warrior is basically for the resiliency of Soldiers and families,” said Faulkner. “We’re here to make sure that they can be self-sufficient and productive, and we facilitate that.”
She said they understand the struggles that military families face, from financial questions to post traumatic stress disorder. Out of her own family’s needs, Faulkner learned the ins and outs of Veterans’ benefits and resources, eventually becoming certified to process VA claims. She and her 10 volunteers provide counseling for issues such as military medical boards, higher education, even substance abuse.
From their Kentucky office, Operation Resilient Warrior reaches out to soldiers at home as well. They have helped and continue to assist military families from New York to Nevada. Faulkner said the organization would be there every step of the way and as long as there is a need from those she called extensions of her own family.
The organization’s motto is, “making a difference, one warrior at a time.” And Faulkner couldn’t be more satisfied with the strides they are making for the benefit of service members around the world.
“It is absolutely the most rewarding thing I have ever done, I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she said. “Anything we can do to say thank you, I want to be standing first in line to do that.”