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February 22, 2013

Family makes sure GI gets meals

A Burlington Flats couple whose son serves with an Army medical unit in Afghanistan have taken matters into their own hands after hearing that their son’s unit no longer received hot breakfasts.

Arthur and Joy Miller have been sending food each week for about six weeks to Staff Sgt. Jared Miller and his fellow soldiers in the 691st Forward Surgical Team, an Army Reserve Unit based in Utica. The team has been in Afghanistan since October.

“Oatmeal packets, Pop Tarts, Rice Krispie bars,” Arthur Miller said this week. “My wife sends jars of jelly, jars of our maple syrup, she sends pancake mix, bread mixes, basically everything.

“My wife’s been going shopping, picking up $30, $40, $50 worth of food, putting it in a box (and) sending it over. It cost us $20 to $25, depending on the size of the box. And New York Central Mutual Insurance Co., they have a policy down there … if their employees donate, they do the shipping. So they’ve been shipping the boxes over.”

Their concern grew out of reports that Army units serving in Afghanistan were not receiving hot breakfasts anymore as a result of budget cutbacks, although the Pentagon — as recently as last month — has denied that is the case.

The military said that only forward operating units aren’t served hot meals for breakfast, and that the reason is logistical not financial. Those units, officials say, are being pulled back and replaced by Afghan troops.

Still, the Millers carry on. They send at least a box a week, Arthur Miller said.

“Some weeks, it’s two,” he added. “Right now, there’s two in the car waiting to go. … and we have probably six more waiting to go.”

They’re not doing it alone. In addition, to New York Central Mutual, Hannaford supermarkets have donated food, they said.

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