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Even though they’re thousands of miles from family and friends, single servicemembers don’t have to spend Christmas alone.

Various military organizations at bases around Europe are sponsoring an array of events geared toward single servicemembers or those with deployed spouses.

“It can be particularly difficult at the holiday season to be away from friends and family,” said 1st Lt. Robb Granado, a Project Cheer representative at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

“We want to make sure our single folks and spouses of deployed servicemembers aren’t alone for the holidays.”

Project Cheer is the U.S. Air Forces in Europe program geared toward single airmen. Most of the Air Force events around Europe fall under its umbrella.

Events include free movies, trips off base and Christmas Day buffets at base clubs.

Not to be outdone, the Army and Navy are offering similar programs.

At Naval Station Rota in Spain, sailors used to getting orders from senior enlisted and officers will get a chance to give orders at the base’s galley. Higher-ranking sailors will take orders such as “Peas, please,” and “No corn” while acting as servers on Christmas Day.

Single sailors can take advantage of free bowling, movies and golf on base along with everyone else. And some single sailors will spend at least part of the holidays with families on base via an adopt-a-sailor program run through the base chapel.

Adopt-a-servicemember programs are prevalent throughout Europe. There’s a twist on one for soldiers stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany. Some will spend the holidays with married noncommissioned officers and their families. Others have the opportunity to dine with German families who have extended invitations to single soldiers.

Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers is sponsoring a number of programs, including a Christmas Jamboree at the Abrams Center on Friday night, caroling through the barracks on Saturday and Christmas dinner Sunday at the Finney Fitness Center.

There will be plenty of singing in Turkey, too.

The youth center at Incirlik Air Base was set to lead carolers through the base dorms Thursday night, with a mixer at the community center also set for Thursday. On Friday night, singles can grab a base-sponsored ride to a restaurant in Adana. On Saturday, they can load up on American fare during a free buffet at the club.

The Liberty Club at RAF Lakenheath in England is also offering a Christmas Eve buffet. After pigging out, diners can take to the dance floor for music spun by a disc jockey until midnight.

Many bases are offering overnight trips, though most require travelers to have already booked by now.

That’s not the case at base dining facilities, where simply flashing an ID card will do the trick. Subsequent trips to base fitness centers might not be mandatory, but are probably advisable.

Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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