This holiday season, spending time with family is going to be extra important for a few thousand soldiers on Fort Drum. That's because once the new year begins, they'll be spending the rest of the year in Afghanistan. As our Brian Dwyer reports, their fellow soldiers and local businesses are doing what they can to help make this Christmas special.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Earlier this year, the 1st and 2nd Brigades on Fort Drum found out they'll be spending most of 2013 in Afghanistan. Shortly after the holidays, they'll be shipping out.
"With two brigades of soldiers getting ready to deploy, it puts an edge on the importance of family and you tend to value that a lot more during times of adversity and stress," Col. Gary Rosenberg, Fort Drum's Garrison Commander said.
With Fort Drum being such a big part of the New York State family, tree growers from all over teamed up with FedEx to grow and deliver about 750 Christmas trees to Drum's soldiers. It's one less thing for them to worry about. It's also something that can make that now soon to end family time even more special.
''It's a tough time of year on soldiers and families," Dick Darling of Darling's Tree Farm said. "They're away from home. I guess this hopefully means a little to them and gives them a feeling of home. We enjoy doing it.''
"It makes you feel good," Chad Bauder, a driver and sales associate with FedEx said. "You're doing your part to help out soldiers over there doing the fighting for us. It makes you feel special."
Every year, the Trees for Troops program hands out about 19,000 trees to 70 military installations across the country. The soldiers say it truly does help make for a special family Christmas.
"It's a great load off the parents," Spc. John Robert McGee of the 543rd Quartermaster said. "The kids waking up with Christmas trees. They're big, healthy, vibrant and real Christmas trees. Not everybody gets to experience that fresh pine smell. It's a great experience."
Each tree also comes with a very special ornament. People who visited the tree farms were able to fill out a card with a special message to military families. It's another way to say thank you.
Each battalion on Drum will be given 20 trees. They'll then be given out to those soldiers who want and need one.