More planes transport troops for R&R program
The number of aircraft transporting rest-and-recuperation troops has increased at Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, to help speed up the process of getting soldiers where they need to go.
Military officials do not want to give exact numbers of aircraft provided for the R&R program because of security issues, but Maj. Lisiane M.Y. Valentine said the increase means more troops get to enjoy the program at one time.
Valentine, who is the 64th Replacement Company commander on Rhein-Main, also said the increase means a heavier workload for the community, but people don’t seem to mind.
“The community — U.S. Army, as well as Rhein-Main — pulled very well together to try to deliver optimum service because we appreciate what they do every day so that we do not have another attack such as 9/11. There has been no more terror attacks like that on our homeland because of them,” Valentine said.
Besides the extra manpower it takes to fly more aircraft, there are also teams of medical and professional counselors available for troops upon arrival. Plus, Valentine said volunteers from local organizations and the United Service Organizations greet all incoming servicemembers and provide small treats.
Troops are also briefed on various programs going on in support of the R&R program, such as deals at the Armed Forces Recreation centers.
Another advantage added into the increased flights is that military-chartered civilian aircraft fly to more destinations now, saving troops dollars.
Troops deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom typically receive two weeks of leave near the middle of a yearlong deployment and can fly from Rhein-Main Air Base to Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, or Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Servicemembers pay for further travel on their own, or with help through donated flight miles.
Valentine said donations of baked goods and other treats are accepted on behalf of incoming troops, and the USO is in need of volunteers. Call DSN 330-6424 or civilian 0696996424 for more information.