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Churches Move to Help W.Va. Soldiers

February 25, 2008
WHEELING — Help from Northern Panhandle organizations is being sought in an effort to aid soldiers who call the Mountain State their home.

The West Virginia Council of Churches has started a program called ‘‘CARE-NET: Caring Beyond the Yellow Ribbon.’’ Organizers hope to offer informational events and activities to assist West Virginia military members and their families through all phases of their deployment.

Project officials have visited community agencies and businesses in Beckley, Parkersburg and Buckhannon to address the needs of soldiers and their families and enlist organizations will to contribute to the cause. For more information, call (304) 344-3141.

The areas of soldier support will include stress management, addictive behaviors, children’s needs, family dynamics, financial education and financial support. This project will also offer information to families and caring community partners regarding the welfare of all our military members and their families.

Project Coordinator the Rev. Ricardo Flippin said CARE-NET has been awarded funding and it will be used to cover the cost of the services. The organization also requests funding from organizations and it then is used to fund the services that benefit West Virginia troops.

Flippin said CARE-NET representatives will travel in the coming weeks to the Northern Panhandle to raise awareness of the program and contributions for it.

Flippin said he anticipates more than $100,000 will be available for the project. The funding will be awarded in February and distributed in April.

‘‘We are looking for organizations in this area to donate,’’ Flippin said. ‘‘We don’t provide direct service. We request funding. We seek out organizations that help.’’

West Virginia supports a military complex of Army and Air National Guard, Army and Air Reserve components, plus Navy and Marine Reserve Units. The West Virginia Army National Guard currently has units supporting operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo.

More than 7,000 West Virginia National Guard personnel have served in the Iraq war. Twenty-nine soldiers from West Virginia have been killed; 22 in Iraq and seven in Afghanistan. A total of 194 West Virginia troops have been wounded as of December 2007. The number includes both active duty and National Guard.

Flippin said the program also is intended to support the families of West Virginians serving now in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo in addition to those contributing to the serious needs of Mountain State soldiers returning home from war.

‘‘West Virginians are facing the same issues as all the other soldiers,’’ Flippin said. ‘‘The divorce rates, the substance abuse — all that exists. It doesn’t exist with all of them, but the potential is there for every soldier. We asked the troops (currently serving), ‘What can we do to help you.’ Their response was ‘take care of my family.’’’

When asked, single soldiers, he noted, wanted someone to take care of their mothers and fathers.

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