Tuesday, October 07, 2008
SpySistah's Latest Mission
Hello all. SpySistah is just returned from a mission. She and I thought you'd enjoy a declassified briefing on her exploits. It follows below.

I had the most amazing experience this past weekend while participating in the Army Ten Miler in Washington DC. I had such a fabulous time, I wanted to give you more details about my experience because it was aMAZing!

The Army Ten Miler (ATM) raises money to help soldiers and their families. Mainly, the money goes to support Soldier Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs. Before participating in this event, I had never heard about this group of programs. Their goal is to help soldiers and their families readjust to civilian life by "offering services that reduce stress, build skills and self-confidence, and foster strong esprit de corps." Links for further information follow.

I stayed in a hotel that was across the street from where the race expo was located. I've seen bigger expos, but this has never been a big deal to me. It was organized and easy to pick up my race packet, timing chip, and t-shirt. I then walked around and looked at gear and future run stations.

What set this expo apart was the slew of soldiers who were the volunteers of the expo. Everywhere you looked were fresh-faced men and women who held an air of "can do" to them. I don't know how else to describe it. I felt like I was surrounded by an amazing community.

The next day, I jumped onto the metro for 2 stops to take me to the Pentagon, which was where the run started and finished. The pentagon was the perfect backdrop for this event. In the background, you had the US Air Force Memorial of the Missing Man formation, which was built in 2006. It stands out in its sleek modern design in a city where classical architectural structures are the standard. Again, I was overcome by all the army men and women who were helping with the event. They were instructing us where to go, maintaining security, and keeping the crowds moving.

The ATM had a few aspects to its race that really set it apart. I'm going to mention them now.

1- While this event can be run as an individual by anyone, it also has a team competition. Around 650 military and civilian teams compete. They all had matching shirts identifying what Fort they were from (one group had t-shirts that said "Girls from the [Fort] Hood") or what soldier they were running to remember.
2- Disabled veterans participated. I did not get to see their start off so I don't know how many were involved as I had to be in my wave group for running. However, I passed only a couple of them. These men were constantly surrounded by clapping and cheers as everyone saw them. Their strength and determination was so moving, words can't do it justice.
3- There are shadow runs in several locations for deployed soldiers. Some of the shadow runs were in Camp Buehring, CJTF-101 (Khandahar, Fenty, Bagram Air Base, Sharana), Joint Base Balad, Camp Victory, Camp Taji, Al Asad Air Base and Camp Bucca, Q West, Tallil/Adder, FOB Delta, Speicher and Jalabad. I’m sorry, but this is just cool.

Due to security, spectators are not allowed at the start, not surprising since it's the Pentagon. They make up for it! The race was kicked off with Parachuters!!! The Canadian Armee went first, followed by our own US Army. They did formations and maneuvers in the air. It was breathtaking. Then, the National Anthem was sung. During the performance, 4 Blackhawk helicopters in formation flew low over the crowd. I can't tell you what a kick off this was! The 10 Mile race had you pass Arlington National Cemetery, OVER the Memorial Bridge (this was breathtaking), along the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials and the Federal Reserve, around the Watergate building, along the Potomac River, near the Korean War Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. The turnaround was at 6.5 miles in front of the Capital Bldg! You are treated to two views as you run by it twice. Then, back along the Air and Space Museum to the Tidal basin, for a breathtaking view of the Jefferson Memorial, back over another bridge with fabulous views to a fabulous downhill finish into the Pentagon. You can't beat this race for the views! And it was so flat!

I know I'm leaving out fabulous details. Most of the crowd had shirts with great sayings, inspirational messages, what part of the military they were in, or the names of fallen soldiers who would not be forgotten. I passed one guy around mile 8who was running barefoot!

You finish the run, and there was a feast of water, bananas, muffins…the normal post-running nosh. There was also a youth activity area and a hooah tent with music and fun.

I'd recommend this run to anyone willing to attempt 10 miles. I'd recommend this run to anyone who wants to cheer on some amazing runners, some of whom are troops. I'd recommend this run to anyone looking to see courage and inspiration. The registration fills up fast, so if you're interested, I'd recommend going to the website in early April. Almost 6,000 registered on the first day (I was one of them) and all 26,000 registration openings were closed in 42 days.

Besides, you want to book this trip early so you can also try to schedule a visit to the White House, your congressman's office, or other DC tours which take 6 months to schedule. If in town, do NOT miss the Spy Museum. It's fun for all ages. Next time I go, I will make sure to have dinner on the Potomac and spend some time in the Library of Congress.

I’ve always felt the need and value in supporting our troops overseas. However, now I know how important it is to support our troops wherever they may be located.

Everyone has a different comfort area in how they'd like to support the troops so here are a few links to different ways. Please take a few minutes and click through these. I'm sure at least one will speak to you.

Two of my favs
helps returning servicemen (and women) find jobs

is a link to MWR. For many soldiers who get used to the adrenaline and lifestyle of combat, readjusting can be difficult. This group attempts to help.
gives examples things they do….look around, it's amazing.

Other ways to support the troops include:

The USO, which is also an MWR group! I've sent an email to MWR to see if I can donate directly to them. If not, I will be sending money to the USO, which is fully tax-deductible, by the way. Many companies match donations…does yours? I only wish I lived somewhere I could donate time.

Care packages

Healthcare, Hospice, and Recovery

Transition, Scholarships, and Vocation Rehabilitation

Counseling and other relief and support organizations

"SpySistah" Out.

Last but not least, many of us spend a lot of time in airports. It never hurts to say “Thank you” when you see a member of the US armed forces. If you appreciate the job they do, say so, and spread a little love!
posted by Phoenix | 11:13 AM


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