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Families 'Walk to Afghanistan' for their soldiers

POSTED: May 5, 2013 11:30 p.m.
Photo by Samantha Koss/

A sign expresses one family's reason for participating in the walk.

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Their loved ones may be deployed, but about 300 military families began a figurative trek April 27 to show their support for the cause.
Fort Stewart families and soldiers kicked off “Walk to Afghanistan” in support of deployed soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
The distance between Fort Stewart and Kabul is 7,450 miles, and family members took their first steps during the kick-off event. Participants came out to run or walk a 2-mile or 3.7-mile route as part of their goal to walk the distance between their post in the United States and their temporary assignment.
“Try not to do it all today, we have some time,” joked Lt. Col. Lee Overby, rear detachment commander. “We walk to support our soldiers overseas and to promote physical fitness as we start the spring season.”
Walkers have about seven months to complete the task before their soldiers return from Afghanistan. The participants will record their individual miles, and at the end of each month, they will turn logs in for a unit tally. The participants will reunite Oct. 26 to determine which participants and unit walked the farthest.
“In the end, we don’t think there will be any individual that will hit the 7,000 mark … I wouldn’t say it is physically impossible, but you would have to do a marathon a day,” said Lt. Col. David Pittman, rear detachment brigade executive officer. “Our rear detachment soldiers might come close though … Their loved ones may be deployed, but about 300 military families began a figurative trek April 27 to show their support for the cause.
Fort Stewart families and soldiers kicked off “Walk to Afghanistan” in support of deployed soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
The distance between Fort Stewart and Kabul is 7,450 miles, and family members took their first steps during the kick-off event. Participants came out to run or walk a 2-mile or 3.7-mile route as part of their goal to walk the distance between their post in the United States and their temporary assignment.
“Try not to do it all today, we have some time,” joked Lt. Col. Lee Overby, rear detachment commander. “We walk to support our soldiers overseas and to promote physical fitness as we start the spring season.”
Walkers have about seven months to complete the task before their soldiers return from Afghanistan. The participants will record their individual miles, and at the end of each month, they will turn logs in for a unit tally. The participants will reunite Oct. 26 to determine which participants and unit walked the farthest.
“In the end, we don’t think there will be any individual that will hit the 7,000 mark … I wouldn’t say it is physically impossible, but you would have to do a marathon a day,” said Lt. Col. David Pittman, rear detachment brigade executive officer. “Our rear detachment soldiers might come close though … they can add their daily physical training time to their tally.”
Soldiers who didn’t deploy had the option to participate in support of their counterparts overseas. Soldiers of the rear detachment usually run or walk three to four miles a day at early morning physical training, and they’re able to use those activities for credit.
“Our deployed soldiers are focused on their mission in Afghanistan, and we are focused on taking care of their families back here,” Pittman said. “They don’t have to worry about their families back home; they have trust in our rear detachment to take care of their families.”
Programs like “Walk to Afghanistan” help family members cope while their soldier is deployed. During these events, spouses can also meet other families who are going through the same hardships.
“This event is a good way to get people out and to interact with the unit,” Pittman said. “Whether it is running, biking, playing with the kids outside … they are doing something and meeting new people.”
For Monique Perez, spouse of a deployed 4th BCT soldier, this event does just that.
“This is a good way for me to bond with other spouses,” she said. “And now we have a goal to accomplish for the deployment.”
Perez walked with fellow spouse, Taylor Elliott, in support of their deployed soldiers.
“This is a great way to recognize the hard work our husbands are doing in Afghanistan,” Elliott said. “And walking is a great exercise.”
Participants can walk, jog, run, bike or swim for exercise. Pretty much any form of exercise can count for credit, said Pittman.
“This whole thing is on the honor system,” Pittman said. “It doesn’t really matter who walks the most, the important thing is that everyone is supporting our deployed soldiers and interacting with the unit.”

 

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