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NEWS | May 1, 2008

Vacations for Airmen returning from deployment

By Robert Goetz Staff writer

A relaxing vacation awaits some servicemembers and their families courtesy of a new Air Education and Training Command Services Agency program. 

Called "Welcome Home," the program will give AETC military personnel who have been deployed more than 120 days in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom an opportunity to register for a chance to win grand prizes of $2,500 travel vouchers. These may be redeemed for a vacation the winner can plan. 

"We were very excited when we heard about the AETC Welcome Home program," said Terrye Heagerty, 12th Services Division director. "It is a great opportunity to say thanks to our troops and their families while reacquainting them with the many programs and services offered by the services division. We have added many extra incentives to the program to ensure we exceed their expectations." 

The first drawing is set for June and will cover personnel who returned from deployments in 2007 and through May 29 of this year. Follow-on drawings for more prizes are planned for servicemembers deploying during the remainder of this year. 

In addition to travel vouchers, prizes such as a night's stay at a hotel, a Sunday brunch, bowling games and boat rentals will also be given away. 

Shelta Reese, 12th Services marketing director, said personnel returning from deployment may now fill out an entry form during the reintegration briefing in Hangar 52. Airmen who returned during 2007 and those who were deployed this year and have already returned may register at the Airman and Family Readiness Center, Building 693. 

Servicemembers will hear about the Welcome Home program during reintegration briefings and will also be informed about what services offers them and their families. 

"This is a great program and we want to make sure all of the eligible winners get the word," Ms. Reese said. "It gives them a chance to win a vacation cruise to relax. Also, we are trying to supplement with various different items to enhance their return home and their time spent with their families enjoying recreational activities and relaxing." 

Services will host a welcome home pool party May 23 from 5-8 p.m. at the center pool and officers' club deck for those eligible for the first drawing. The event will feature food, entertainment and prizes, including three one-night stays at the Drury Inn, a local sponsor of the program.