Dr. Gordon T. Austin Praises Creative New Efforts to Support U.S. Troops

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An organization called Battalion Buddies, which finds creative ways to show support to U.S. troops, has recently won positive attention from the media—as well as from veterans like Dr. Gordon T. Austin.

Both in times of war and in times of peace, the need to show support to the men and women of the United States military is vital. This includes both financial support, enabling men and women in uniform to have the physical amenities and supplies they need to perform their jobs well, in addition to simple acts of encouragement. Indeed, for many in the United States, preparing a gift bag or sending a holiday greeting is a small but significant way of expressing gratitude for the defenders of our country. An organization called Battalion Buddies has recently drawn media attention for its creative methods of showing military support—and it has also drawn the praise of veterans like Dr. Gordon T. Austin.

Battalion Buddies is founded on the premise that while our soldiers make many sacrifices for the greater good of the country, they are not the only ones. Their families also make sacrifices, including young children who must share their parents with the world. The organization seeks to show acts of kindness to military children, as a way of encouraging them and also affirming the actions of their military parents.

The organization, just launched in 2011, sends specially made stuffed animals to the children of troops preparing for deployment. The animals come with messages of encouragement to the kids. More than 50,000 military children have now received these affirming animals, a figure that has won the praise of many active service members as well as veterans like Dr. Gordon T. Austin.

“As a 38-year Navy Veteran, who was serving in the Philippines when my youngest daughter was born, I deeply appreciate the kindness that Battalion Buddies shows to the children of military members,” writes Dr. Austin, in a press statement. “Nothing is more important to our warriors than knowing their efforts are appreciated and their families back home are being supported.”

Dr. Gordon T. Austin, Vice President of the Reserve Officers Association, adds a personal note. “My daughter, who is now 26, still treasures a stuffed bear dressed in a Navy uniform that was given to her to hug when she missed her daddy!”

And as the Battalion Buddies program continues to gain support from veterans and members of the media alike, it also continues to grow. To date, the program has sent animals to 112 unique zip codes, including 29 states, Germany, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Its reach encompasses 197 deployed units and counting.

The program is made possible largely through the support of Family Readiness Officers, as well as through the work of the Operation Gratitude volunteers who work to assemble the packages and send them to kids throughout the world.


Dr. Gordon T. Austin is a veteran of the United States Navy, and he served for 38 years. A resident of Carrollton, Georgia, Dr. Austin currently serves as Vice President of the Reserve Officers Association.

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Michael McGarety
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