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Published: Thursday, 3/20/2003

Michigan program offers help for military families


LANSING - Community groups trying to help families of deployed soldiers can get help from the state under a program being unveiled today by three Michigan senators.

Operation Adopt-A-Family is designed to let families know they can get help with anything from child care to medical aid from local organizations such as churches and veteran posts. In turn, those community groups can look to the state for money and other assistance in looking after military families.

“Their hurt and their heartache doesn't end until the troops come home. And that will be a long time,” said Karen Szczepanski, spokesman for Sen. Valde Garcia (R., Howell). Ms. Szczepanski's fiance is an Army reservist who was deployed and is awaiting orders at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

Mr. Garcia is joining Sen. Michelle McManus (R., Lake Leelanau) and Sen. Laura Toy (R., Livonia) in announcing the program.

For example, people who are worried about being burglarized or feel unsafe can call the Michigan Sheriff's Association for help, Ms. Szczepanski said. In addition, most local communities have agencies that are ready to lend a hand, even if it means mowing a lawn.

Families who don't know where to turn should call the Michigan National Guard, the American Red Cross, or a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post. Those organizations can direct families to the right resources.

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