With the holidays upon us, Chris Chesak of the Adventure Travel Trade Association hopes that SNEWS® readers will take a moment to think of all the servicemen and women who are serving far from home, family and friends this year -- with more than a few of them serving in hostile situations.
In particular, Chesak’s former Army Guard unit, the 116th ARS of Idaho and Montana, is now back in Iraq. Had Chesak stayed in the Idaho Guard (see photo of Chesak to the right -- first printed in the Idaho Statesman), he would have been the Platoon Leader for that 116th ARS unit. It now has a very special mission. Without revealing additional details, he could tell SNEWS they will be wearing civilian clothes.
“These guys were specially chosen from the entirety of the combat arms guys in the 116th,” Chesak told SNEWS. “They also received special weapons and training. However, their issue of civilian clothing is quite limited, sadly.”
According to Chesak, those in his former unit include full-time students, hay farmers, employees at the sugar beet factory or cheese plant in small towns in the two states.
“They don't have a lot of money. The Army Guard issues the soldiers uniforms but not the civilian clothes they need and the guys all have to pay out of pocket for all the other clothes they need," Chesak told us.
“I've worked out a special arrangement with friends at ExOfficio to purchase at-cost shirts for these guys, and I worked with their team to choose items that are ideal for the hot environment and mission, including subdued colors and items that work well with body armor,” said Chesak.
Where does the industry come in? Chesak is asking anyone with means to help provide the unit’s E5's and below (that's sergeants, specialists and privates, which are the lowest ranks and thus generally the youngest guys with the least money) with a new ExOfficio shirt to help them with their mission in Iraq.
At cost, each shirt is about $30 per and Chesak has a goal of providing 25 shirts for one platoon. He said he hopes to be able to get shirts for two platoons too if he is able to reach the first goal.
To donate and help Chesak buy shirts for soldiers, go to a special page on Facebook he set up by clicking here.
But the need does not stop at shirts: Chesak is also looking for other industry companies who would be willing to provide at a one-time pro-deal or as a donation ball caps, khaki pants, polo or button-down shirts, tactical gloves, tactical lights and headlamps.
“We need gloves and lights first,” Chesak told SNEWS. “All with subtle logos. It is my hope I can get enough donations that these guys don’t have to pay a dime for their clothing -- clothing they are required to have to do a very dangerous job.”
If you are able to help Chesak help his Army Guard friends, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org