Pentagon Honors Groups for Troop Support

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2007 - The Defense Department recognized a troop-support group and a corporation here today for their teamwork in supporting the nation's servicemembers.

Jeanette Cram, founder of Treat the Troops, an America Supports You home-front group, and DuPont Teflon received the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service in a ceremony at the Pentagon.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Dorrance Smith presented both a medal and a copy of the citation describing their accomplishments.

America Supports You is a DoD program that highlights and facilitates support for the nation's men and women in uniform.

"Thank you both for what you and your organizations have done on behalf of our military men and women," Smith said.

Cram began baking cookies for deployed servicemembers 17 years ago during the Persian Gulf War. Since then, she and her volunteers, whom she affectionately calls "crumbs," have baked, packaged and shipped more than 430,000 cookies to Bosnia, Somalia, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cram, dubbed the "Cookie Lady," has committed to continue baking cookies "as long as servicemembers are deployed so that they can always have a taste of home," according to the citation.

"We're just a little small group," she said after receiving her award. "Just little ladies in the kitchen is what we are."

Before stepping away from the lectern at today's ceremony, Cram made a presentation of her own, to Smith. She had compiled some of the many letters she has received from servicemembers in response to her cookie care packages.

"They can say 'Thank you' a lot better than I can," she told him.

Indeed, one of the letters summed up the extreme gratitude for the effort Cram and her "crumbs" put forth. "In a small tent in Afghanistan, those cookies reminded my husband of home and gave him comfort," a soldier's wife wrote Cram. "He remembered that there are people who cared that they were there.

"Those cookies started him thinking about home," she continued. "It didn't make him sad. It just made him smile. Home! That is what being in Afghanistan was about ... HOME!"

Cram's care packages have even inspired poetry from the recipients. One, titled "Cookies from Heaven," told how a simple box of cookies helped comfort a soldier and a new buddy she gained through the sharing of cookies.

"Cookies from heaven or somewhere close by gave strength and comfort to this soldier and I. We smile in that moment and raise our cookies high. We know they came from heaven or somewhere close by," the deployed poet wrote.

The binder of notes Cram presented Smith was powerful testimony to the importance of Treat the Troops' mission. That mission will continue in earnest this year, thanks to financial assistance from DuPont Teflon.

The company received its award for creating The Great American Cookie Swap program, which, according the citation "has been instrumental in raising funds to support ASY member, Treat the Troops."

The Great American Cookie Swap invited friends and neighbors across the country to host cookie-swap parties. The result was more than 17,000 parties with the sole purpose of sending homemade cookies to troops overseas. For each of the parties, DuPont Teflon made a monetary donation to Treat the Troops to help with baking and shipping needs.

"Now I don't have to go out scrounging (for postage)," Cram said after the ceremony had concluded. Dan Turner, a DuPont Teflon representative, will present Cram with the donation later today.

The company also created a Web site to educate people about The Great American Cookie Swap, Treat the Troops and America Supports You.

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