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Meet Your Military: Soldier Makes History in Graduate Program

support our troops us soldier makes historyPHOTO: Army Sgt. Julie Bytnar is the first enlisted service member to be accepted into a graduate education program at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. DoD photo by Thomas Balfour BETHESDA, Md. – Five years ago, Army Sgt. Julie Bytnar was leading a very different life. She was a homemaker living in the Chicago suburbs while her husband, Bill, earned most of the family’s income. Then, without warning, Bill became very ill after a rare blood-clotting disorder ravaged his body. Over time, his condition deteriorated, and he could no longer work. Their bills began piling up, with no reprieve in sight. Desperate to keep hope alive, Bytnar enlisted in the military so she could take care of her husband and young children. “Although I was eligible for a commission based on my education and work experience, the lead time would have been much longer, and I needed a career right away,” she said. “So I enlisted in 2009 at 38 years old and have been learning about the Army from the bottom up ever since.”

Swift indoctrination Although her uniformed career has been short, Bytnar’s military indoctrination was the swift, no-holds-barred kind. After proving herself at garrison duty assignments as a lead health care specialist, Julie deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. “It was an intense experience,” she said. “I provided a lot of hands-on care to wounded service members and local Afghans, treating everything from minor to life threatening injuries.” Bytnar said her experience in Afghanistan also changed her career focus. Instead of simply providing care, she said, she began thinking about the bigger picture and wondering how she could prevent injuries from happening in the first place. Her curiosity eventually led her to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences here, where she broke ground as the first enlisted service member to be accepted into a graduate-level program. “Even though I was hopeful, I was still very surprised when I got my acceptance letter from USU,” she said. “Now I’m working toward a Master of Public Health [degree]. I already have a few classes under my belt. They were challenging, but I feel confident I’ll survive the program. I want to prove to myself and everyone else that I can do this.”

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Meet your Military: Army NCO Outlines Secrets to Success

support our troops us army secrets to successArmy Master Sgt. Amber Chavez, left, the logistics noncommissioned officer in charge for 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), mentors a junior soldier as she trains her in Army logistics at Fort Carson, Colorado, Jan. 12, 2016. Chavez said she believes mentoring and training soldiers and possessing an inner drive to professionally improve every day are key components to success in the Army. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jorden M. WeirFORT CARSON, Colo., January 21, 2016 - what does it take to succeed in today's Army? It's a question that many soldiers ponder, and one that has many different answers.

For Army Master Sgt. Amber Chavez, the logistics noncommissioned officer in charge at the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) here, success has been earned through inspiration from others and her own personal inner drive.

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Meet Your Military: Citizen-Soldier Supports Guard in Civilian Capacity

MEET YOUR MILITARY: Citizen-Soldier Supports Guard in Civilian Capacity

ARLSBAD, N.M., January 4, 2016 — While many of his fellow National Guard soldiers were called to state active duty in response to recent blizzards here, Army Pfc. David Mathews went to work in his civilian job on his own time — refueling the medical evacuation helicopters called in to help.

The New Mexico National Guard was activated when a winter storm hit the southeastern section of the state Dec. 26. Soldiers have since been busy finding and helping stranded motorists, providing transportation to and from medical care, and assisting state authorities with clearing roadways.

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Veterans Day 2015: Those Who Protect It All

support our troops us national guardsman high five
Declan Alexander high-fives a South Carolina Air National Guardsman during his time as Pilot for a Day at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, S.C., Aug. 15, 2015. South Carolina Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Ashleigh Pavelek

November 9, 2015:  Many were only 18 when they left home, volunteering bravely for the unknown. They surrendered their youth and family time and worked endless hours, even forfeiting holidays. They only owned what they could carry. Without question, they protected our freedoms, maintained our borders, gave humanitarian aid to those in need, and they did all this sometimes hungry and without showers.

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Christmas Traditions on the Way to the Troops!

Christmas Traditions on the Way to the Troops!

December 16, 2015: Absence from loved ones,  Christmas traditions, and the comfort of family rituals is one of the most difficult moments of a soldier’s deployment.   In some of the most dangerous locations, even the sound of Christmas carols could bring trouble.

This Christmas, our soldiers are holding their posts in Kuwait, Afghanistan and other undisclosed locations.  Some of these places may have electricity while others, like FOB’s, may be void of modern amenities. A Christmas card, a ribbon or a bow can go a long way in reminding troops that we are here and we are thinking of them.  A string of lights and a few sweets to remind them of the taste of home can make time overseas easier in a moment where nothing has been easy.

The cards that travel in our care packages come from children and schools, nursing homes and churches from across America.  Every care package contains a note from Support Our Troops® showing soldiers where their gifts come from, so they know that those warm wishes are from a town and from a community much like the one they left behind.

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