Above / Executive Director Bill Rickert represented Operation Support Our Troops-America during the recent Naperville Municipal Band Veterans Day Concert when concert attendees donated items for care packages to send to troops deployed overseas. Next up, a big celebration for OSOT-America volunteers and family members of deployed Soldiers from the North Riverside U.S. National Guard unit is planned on Feb. 9, placing the 2-millionth pound in the comfort and care package to be shipped. They also will have refreshments and cake!  (PN File Photo)

Officials from the Naperville-based nonprofit Operation Support Our Troops–America have announced they will be packing their two-millionth pound of Comfort and Care items to deployed military men and women on February 9, 2019.

In a written statement Executive Director Bill Rickert provided an overview of OSOT-America.

“In a nondescript warehouse in Lisle, every other Thursday and Saturday, volunteers have gathered for the past 15-plus years to sort and pack items into a one-square-foot cardboard box that is then labeled, metered and shipped to American men and women in dangerous, far-away places. 

Since 2003, military personnel have expressed gratitude with photos and letters for the good cheer received from Operation Support Our Troops-America. (OSOT Photo)

“As the group gathers for their regular packing they are looking forward to celebrating a milestone as they are close to reaching the two millionth pound that has been sent by their hands working tirelessly in this warehouse.  

“When we began in 2003, we had just planned to send some Valentine treats to deployed troops to let them know we hadn’t forgotten them, but we made the commitment we would continue as long as this war continued.  No one ever dreamed it would turn out to be the longest war in our history, but we did continue month after month, year after year and we are very close to packing our two millionth pound by many caring volunteers.

“Kevin Krause, OSOT-America’s volunteer warehouse manager explained that every pound costs approximately $1.40 in postage so the shipping costs alone have exceeded well over two million dollars.  

“To help with the postage costs, OSOT-America partnered with actor and military supporter Gary Sinise and his ‘Lt. Dan Band’ for Rockin’ for the Troops which was held for over ten years at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. 

“As the years went by the need for additional services became apparent and the organization now sponsors programs for veterans in need, families of fallen service members and alternative resources for those suffering the emotional and psychological after effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

This sample container shows what can go inside a one-foot x one-foot x one-foot box filled with comfort and care items. On Feb. 9, OSOT-America will celebrate a “pretty big milestone for us and all the volunteers who have worked so hard to support our military community since 2003,” said publicist Linda Tuisl.

“The Comfort and Care Package Program continues to be a way that the community can be involved and show their support.  Items that go into the packages are collected from local community organizations and brought to the warehouse where they are sorted, packed and shipped.  Often this work involves volunteers whose own loved ones are deployed and the group often provides support to each other as they navigate through the ups and downs of years of deployments and loss.

“We never thought we would be doing this so many years later.  But we celebrate the fact that so many people continue to come into the warehouse to show that they care to support our troops who help keep us safe.”               

Additional OSOT-America Programs                                        

OSOT-America has developed multiple programs that support active duty military, veterans, and their families, including:

  • The Allen J. Lynch Medal of Honor Veteran’s Assistance Program provides stop-gap measure funding to veterans and their families in need. The goal is to provide assistance in the recovery or education process allowing a veteran to move forward in their life.
  • Helping support Families of the Fallen (grief healing seminars in addition to the collaboration seminar “Leap of Faith” with the Army Golden Knights Parachute Team and the All Veteran Parachute Team which provides a growth experience based around a tandem skydive).
  • Comfort and Care Package Program for troops serving in harm’s way.
  • G.I. Yoga which provides a safe community of fellow veterans and their families to learn yoga to release stress, sleep better, ease aches and pains, lower blood pressure, increase strength, flexibility, balance and focus. Yoga is frequently becoming a “tool in the toolbox” of veterans and their family members seeking physical fitness and alternative ways to manage the symptoms of PTS, TBI and general stress. OSOT- America provides certified G.I. Yoga-trained teachers, mats and yoga blocks and straps at classes throughout the state. These classes are free to active military, veterans and their family.

Volunteer opportunities are available. For more information, visit www.osotAmerica.org.

Operation Support Our Troops-America since 2003

Founder Deb Rickert shows comfort and care package sent to military overseas. (OSOT Photo)

OSOT-America humbly began at the dining room table of founders Bill and Deb Rickert who wanted to support the troops with needed supplies while serving their country and has grown into a non-profit charity with a four star rating from Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org), Great Non-Profits (www.greatnonprofits.org), a Platinum Award from Guidestar (www.guidestar.org) and the Best of 630 award from Chamber 630 for the most inspirational nonprofit organization.

OSOT-America Mission 

The mission of OSOT-America is to support the morale and well-being of American forces by providing comfort, resources and education to all involved both while deployed and the soldier’s return. As a volunteer-based non-profit organization, OSOT-America provides the opportunity for community members to express their appreciation and also offer support for our troops. Engaged in the longest war of our country’s history, and with our servicemen and women completing multiple tours of duty, OSOT-America is committed to showing them that “We Have NOT Forgotten.”   

Story submitted by Linda Tuisl from Operation Support Our Troops-America, a military support nonprofit organization.