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GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The last time Baumholder-based artilleryman Sgt. Nicholas Moncrief went back to the States, he received a 20 percent discount on a pair of new shoes just for being a soldier.

Few, if any, European businesses offer special deals for American soldiers.

But the Army has a range of programs aimed at making life easier for troops deploying out of Europe.

According to Grafenwöhr Morale, Welfare and Recreation chief Audre Binder, MWR offers many benefits for deploying troops and their families.

Among them:

Free Child and Youth Services registration, normally $18 per child or $40 per family.Deployment care cards for 16 free hours of care per child per month during deployment. (Must be used in minimum of two-hour blocks).Fifty percent reduced fees for SKIES — the Army’s Child and Youth Services instructional program that stands for Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills — and for youth sports and fitness programs.Twenty percent discounts on full- and part-time child care.Hourly care reduced by 50 percent to $2 per hour.MWR also has a range of support programs for families of deployed troops. Some programs help kids deal with the absence of a parent, while others help them with homework or teach them ways to communicate with deployed parents over the Internet.

Moncrief, who serves with the 427th Field Artillery Battalion, said he did not expect anything special from on-post organizations when he deployed out of Baumholder to Iraq in 2003.

“I didn’t expect anything more for going downrange. I just go with the flow. If it comes, it comes,” he said.

But Moncrief added that there are certain financial strains that soldiers with families experience when they deploy.

“When I’m home, I’m there helping out,” he said. But when he’s deployed, his wife “has to pay for stuff she needs taken care of,” he added, saying that child care was a financial burden when he was in Iraq.

Moncrief said he wasn’t aware of special MWR child care programs when he deployed, but long hours of training leading up to his departure left little time to check out information about them.

There are plenty of discounts for soldiers back in the States, he added.

“Any place where they see a military guy, it is like you are a star and they have discounts,” he said. “They don’t have a lot of discounts where there are military posts nearby, but I was in Virginia and bought some shoes and got 20 percent off just for being a soldier.”

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