Thanks to donations made by American Legion Auxiliary members and supporters, troops stationed in the remote U.S./South Korea demilitarized zone (DMZ) on the border with North Korea now have more to do in their limited free time when they aren’t on duty.
The idea to donate items began as a special grassroots National Security Committee fundraising project. In late 2017, ALA National President Diane Duscheck and ALA National Secretary/Executive Director Mary “Dubbie” Buckler visited the DMZ as part of a Far East mission trip and asked the troops what kind of items they could use.
“Seeing the harsh conditions where our troops are deployed was very sobering,” Duscheck recalled.
Through donations, two desktop computers, two computer monitors, a gaming system, movie projector, and an electronic dartboard were sent to the troops, said Madison Maves, development outreach lead for the American Legion Auxiliary National Headquarters.
“The soldiers were genuinely excited to hear about the items, especially considering the variety and quality of the donations,” said United Nations Command Security Battalion – Joint Security Area Executive Officer Maj. Jeremy Medaris.
He added the troops are immensely grateful to the ALA for members’ generosity and genuine concern for the soldiers.
“Your organization’s actions help shape and develop the character of young soldiers who might be just starting out on a career path or life journey,” he said. “We believe that for them to experience firsthand such selflessness from an outside organization can have a tremendous impact on their character.”
Before the arrival of these items, the troops’ social/entertainment options were limited. They mainly spent time at the gym or for larger, professional sporting events, they gathered in the dining facility to watch televisions.
When they’re not on duty, Medaris said a limited number of soldiers can get a pass to leave the installation to visit a nearby town or Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
The donated items are going to give troops in the DMZ the opportunity to spend their limited free time in a more relaxing way.
“When you think about it, we have the luxury of going to a movie theater when we want, go to restaurants with friends, or even just step outside and go for a run. Our troops stationed at the DMZ don’t have that luxury,” Maves said. “They are on constant high alert and every person deserves to unwind and relax, even for a few minutes. I think this equipment will let them do that, and that’s priceless.”
This was originally published in the May Auxiliary magazine.