Although major military operations in Iraq have ceased, many of Utah's National Guardsmen and Reservists remain deployed in hostile territory. At least seventy US soldiers have been killed in Iraq since President Bush declared the war's end, including four incidents over the past week. These daily attacks only drive home the need for a continued network of support on the home front. Whether they're in Utah's 1457th Combat Engineer Battalion or the 222nd Field Artillery Battalion, thousands of Utah's families continue to live with their loved ones in harm's way.
In support of Utah's military families, who have sacrificed so much for our current war efforts, Utah's United Ways operate the United Way Homefront Response to help Utah's military families cope with the very real personal and financial burdens of U.S. war efforts. To date, the Homefront Response Fund has awarded $47,000 to its local agency partners, serving 32 military families across the State of Utah. Many of these families must survive on drastically reduced incomes, with enough money remaining only for food and rent, leaving other bills overdue or unpaid.
According to Master Sergeant Ron Linton, about 2,600 units remain deployed and roughly 200 more Utah troops will be shipped to Iraq in August. "We'll be there for quite a while, so they'll be rotating troops in and out," Linton said. He added that no one knows how long our military presence will remain in Iraq, but it could be upwards of five years or longer.
Utah's military families and returned members of the Utah military are strongly encouraged to visit www.uw.org for information about applying for help from the Homefront Response. Information can also be obtained by calling the 2-1-1 information hotline or 1-888-826-9790.
Members of the public who wish to contribute to the United Way Homefront Response can do so at www.uw.org or by visiting any Zions Bank in Utah. Merit Medical Systems will match all contributions to the Homefront Fund, up to $50,000. One hundred percent of every contribution to the United Way Homefront Response will go to Utah's military families. United Way of Salt Lake and Zions Bank are absorbing the administrative costs of the program.