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Sustainers improve morale and services for troops in Haiti

Feb 23, 2010

By 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti -- Servicemembers throughout Haiti have seen improved morale as a result of several quality of life improvements thanks to 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldiers and the rest of the team within Joint Logistics Command - Haiti.

While support to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief continues, U.S. forces are now eating food other than MREs, receiving mail, and sending their dirty clothes out for laundry service.

The first improvement to morale comes from enjoying meal supplements and "Heater Meals". Examples of meal supplements include shelf-stable milk and fresh fruit. Heater Meals are self-contained and warmed with a packet of water that comes with the meal. Heater Meals give troops options for a hot breakfast or dinners with menu options like pancakes, bacon, lasagna, or chicken and noodles.

Cpt. Kerry Motes of Leoma, Tn. and Staff Sgt. Talyia Williams from Miami, Fl., both from the JLC Supply and Services Division, ordered the supplements and heater meals the day after arriving in Haiti.

"Any time you can raise the morale of Soldiers, it helps in the cause and this is definitely a worthwhile cause," said Williams.

With Joint Task Force - Haiti totaling over 12,000 servicemembers, increasing food choices for the force was a team effort. JLC requested the food items and the Defense Logistics Agency provided them.

"It's a morale booster, not having to eat MREs all the time," said JLC intelligence analyst and Houston, Mo. native Sgt. Julia Hickox.

"Getting the supplements is awesome because they have juice in them. It's a nice change from water all the time," she added.

Just as the first apples and heater meals settled in the stomachs of servicemembers in Haiti, personal mail began arriving from the U.S.

Mail is handled by Soldiers from the 502nd Human Resources Co., Ft. Hood, Tx. The 502nd HR Co falls under the 7th Sustainment Bde.- a JLC subordinate. When mail arrives by air in Haiti, the 502nd is responsible for downloading the mail from the aircraft, receiving the mail, and sorting it into bins for distribution to various units deployed in Haiti. Each unit is responsible for sending a certified mail handler to pick up and distribute their unit's mail.

"It's huge when you get something from home. It's like Christmas," said Navy Cdr. Joe Mahan, executive officer of DLA Support Team - Haiti and Hill City, S.D. native.

According the servicemembers here, another boost to morale is not having to wash their laundry in buckets.

The JLC identified the need for Army laundry elements and coordinated for laundry and bath units to deploy to Haiti. Soldiers from Ft. Bragg's 259th Quartermaster Company (field service) perform the mission on the ground. The unit deployed with four laundry advanced systems trailers (LADS). One LADS trailer can clean 32 loads of laundry per day. The 259th QM is currently using two of their four trailers with the other two standing-by if needed.

"It's a lot better than washing your clothes in a bucket," said JLC computer technician and Okeechobee, Fl. native Spec. Caleb Henderson.

New food choices, the arrival of the first mail from the States and the beginning of laundry service required detailed planning and all three becoming available to servicemembers in the same week was "a coincidence", said Montes. Montes added that he enjoys helping the JLC bring so many quality of life improvements to those deployed to Haiti.

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