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Economy not weakening support of America’s troops

The "Year of Leadership" takes place from September 2008 to August 2009. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

The "Year of Leadership" takes place from September 2008 to August 2009. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

DALLAS -- Concerns about a slow economy have not deterred the American public when it comes to supporting the troops. In fact, contributions to the Department of Defense authorized phone card initiative, "Help Our Troops Call Home," this year has reached $878,399.

Available to the public since April 2004, "Help Our Troops Call Home" allows anyone, even non-authorized exchange shoppers, to send Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards to troops stationed in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

"The generosity of the American public and the consistency with which they continue to support the troops is truly heartwarming," said AAFES' senior enlisted advisor Chief Master Sgt. Jeffry Helm. "With the holidays approaching, it is important to maintain communication support by providing Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their Families the means to stay in touch with their loved ones."

Since the program's inception, 163,340 individual orders for more than 298,000 phone cards have been purchased. More than 27,000 have been earmarked for "any service member" and distributed via charities such as the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House Foundation, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Soldier & Family Assistance Center and USO.

By simply logging on to or calling 800-527-2345, friends, family members and even civic groups can take part in the "Help Our Troops Call Home" effort by sending any one of three Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards. This includes a 550-minute denomination card capable of providing more than two hours of call time from any of 69 phone centers in Iraq, Afghanistan or Kuwait to the United States.