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More than 6,000 vehicle registration extension letters are moving through the military postal system to families of soldiers on extended duty in Iraq.

The mass mailing follows an announcement by U.S. Army Europe that troops with the 1st Armored Division will receive automatic, six-month registration extensions as a result of spending extra time in the Mideast. The Army announced the mailings Monday following Gen. B.B. Bell’s decision to extend the registrations.

“Most of the family members bearing these letters are already feeling the effects of this deployment extension,” Russell Hall, regional director for Installation Management Agency, Europe, said in a news release. “I ask all to smile and give them your positive support.”

The military still recommends that drivers get their vehicles inspected if it’s been a year since the last one. The Army is allowing Morale, Welfare and Recreation Auto Skills shops to perform checks as well as the inspection stations. Anyone with an extension letter should receive a free inspection.

Single soldiers still in Iraq most likely stored their cars and suspended the registrations, said Tom Lorenzini, registrar for USAREUR. The registrations will still be good for as many days as were left on it before the vehicle entered storage.

Most single troops, then, wouldn’t need to have their cars inspected immediately upon return. It also allows them to save money by canceling insurance polices.

“When they come back, they have to get an insurance card and then reactivate their registration,” Lorenzini said.

Families have the option of storing a car that’s not in use because of a deployed spouse. That, too, allows them to save on insurance.

Anyone with a spouse on extended duty and facing a soon-to-expire registration — but who hasn’t received a grace letter yet — can visit a vehicle registration station for help.

For information, call DSN 386-7123 or commercial (+49) (0)621-718-7123.

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