Kentucky Girl Scouts touch the hearts of Guardsmen

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Kentucky National Guard Maj. Catherine Forsyth, logistics officer-in-charge, and Spc. Madison Witzleb, aviation operations specalist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, enjoy a box of Girl Scout cookies during an annual training exercise at Camp Atterbury, Ind., April 27. Girl Scout Troop #1199, a Taylorsville, Ky.-based troop, donated boxes of cookies to the Kentucky Guardsmen as a comfort care-package to open during the unit’s week-long annual training exercise in support of Vibrant Response 2015. The cookies were used as a service project to earn the Troop to Troops badge for the Girl Scouts. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson)

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. – When Soldiers are away from their families, it’s the little things that mean the most. Even if you’re only across the river for a training exercise at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.

For Soldiers of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, comfort was in the form of America’s favorite chocolate, shortbread and lemon-flavored cookies that only come out one time a year. And thanks to the Taylorsville, Ky.-Girl Scout Troop #1199, it was the perfect treat at the end of a 12-hour shift.

“Reading the handmade card attached to each box of Girl Scout Cookies thanking Soldiers for their service has touched our hearts,” said Staff Sgt. Carrie Payne, training noncommissioned officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 63rd TAB.

“Everyone enjoyed the contribution of the cookies,” she said.

In 2014, the Girl Scouts, nationally, donated 12,108 boxes of cookies to U.S. Service members around the world.

Known as “Troop to Troops,” the gift of caring is a combined effort of community donations and extra cookies purchased to spread the joy in each box. According to Troop leader Jennifer Pucko, the Taylorsville troop has donated boxes shipped overseas before, but wanted to do something local this year.

“Most of the cookies are paid for by local donations the girls receive at the cookie booths,” she said. “One of our girl’s dad is in the National Guard, so we thought this year we’d find a local unit.”

Troop #1199’s cookies were served April 27 during shift change at the 63rd TAB’s annual training. The Kentucky Guardsmen were part of 3,000 military, federal and civilian personnel who participated in Vibrant Response, the nation’s premiere homeland defense exercise.

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Staff Sgt. Carrie Payne, training noncommissioned officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, holds a box of Girl Scout cookies during an annual training exercise at Camp Atterbury, Ind., April 27. Payne said the hand-written notes attached to the boxes that Girl Scout Troop #1199, a Taylorsville, Ky.-based troop donated, were very much appreciated by her Soldiers that were on their annual training exercise in support of Vibrant Response 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson)

There is a special patch that the Girl Scouts receive if they donate at least six boxes of cookies to Troop to Troops. According to its website, the Girl Scouts is a leadership-driven organization that engages girls to discover who they are, connect with others and take action to make the world a better place. The same types of activities and values that Soldiers like Payne experience in the National Guard.

“These young girls should be proud of themselves as individuals for recognizing those who serve our country,” Payne said.

My message to each one of these girls is to take one day at a time and always put your best foot forward,” she said. “Stay the leader you are being taught to be, not a follower.”

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