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Operation Give Thanks: Serving Those Who Serve Us
12.17.12
 
Goddard employee packs gifts for service members

A volunteer packs gifts to be shipped to overseas service members as part of Goddard's 2012 "Operation Give Thanks."
Credit: NASA Goddard
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Goddard employees packs gifts for service members

The "Operation Give Thanks" volunteers packed more than 90 boxes in the course of two hours.
Credit: NASA Goddard
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Goddard VAC members

"Operation Give Thanks" volunteers.
Credit: NASA Goddard
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For a second year the NASA Goddard Veterans Advisory Committee, or VAC, conducted an operation in support of those who continue to defend the American liberties we all enjoy. “Operation Give Thanks 2012” also provided an opportunity for Goddard community members to send a few comforts of home to active duty members currently serving on a battlefield somewhere overseas.

“America is daily afforded the opportunity to live under the protection of so many who are willing to serve the cause of freedom,” says Mark Hubbard, VAC’s newly elected chairperson at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “This is the least we (the VAC) can do and it appears from the outpouring of the Goddard community they support this effort as well.”

More than 90 boxes have already been hand-packed and are en route to military members on the frontlines overseas. These boxes are filled with comfort items service members will find most useful in a combat zone. The close out of this operation culminates another very active year for Goddard veterans.

Last month, the VAC hosted a Veterans Day Recognition Program, “Honoring America’s Freedom Guards.” Former Navy captain and NASA astronaut Scott Altman was the keynote speaker during the November observance. He spoke of his military service in which he logged more than 7,000 flight hours flying in more than 40 types of aircraft.

Altman talked about how military training had prepared him for an even greater opportunity to serve his country. Attending Goddard community members were offered the opportunity to remember family veterans by placing their names on a “Wall of Remembrance.” During this special observance the history of the Navajo Code Talkers was recognized for its significance in Marine Corps memoir.

In September, VAC provided a helping hand to members of the Wounded Warrior Unit, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md. For Goddard’s annual National Air and Space Museum event, VAC members welcomed these recovering active duty military members and their families. They were afforded an evening of unique food, entertainment and an opportunity to spend time talking with NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, former astronaut Piers Sellers and Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese.

In May, VAC hosted a Memorial Day celebration that featured Bolden, a retired Marine major general and former astronaut. “In Memory of America’s Fallen” included the attendance of Scolese, himself a Navy veteran. Also in attendance were Tuskegee Airman James Pryde and several members of the Wounded Warrior Unit along with members of the Goddard community.

The VAC was organized several years ago by a small band of veterans interested with supporting one another and standing as a reminder of veterans who had served NASA before. “NASA’s human spaceflight began with military members at the controls from the beginning,” says Adrian Gardner, former active duty Air Force member and Goddard chief information officer. “Over the years veterans have continued to serve as NASA administrators, scientists, engineers and so many others positions. A willingness to serve is how the American service member is bred and it is a desire that last.”

Operation Give Thanks 2012 is an acknowledgement to our troops so far away that America has not forgotten you during this special time of year: a time that can be especially tough being separated from family and friends. “This community really supported our efforts and I want to thank each and every person who gave items and/or time to this cause,” says Hubbard. “I think we can never do too much to serve and honor our greatest defense for freedom, America’s military members.”
 
 
Dewayne Washington
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.