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I love, I laugh; as a mother, a girlfriend, a daughter, a sibling, a friend. I change. I volunteer. I make a difference. I make things happen. I get lazy; then way to high strung. I stay up all night, and pay the next day. I piss people off. I make people love. I believe in fate. and karma. I laugh at myself. I've even been called an "angel"... more than once. I've been rocked to my core by angels among us. I am a journalist for our small town newspapers, including the Muskego Chronicle, the Hales Corners Citizen, and the Franklin Citizen; I love writing for our chicken-soup-for-the-small-town-soul publications! I am right where I want to be. I am 34, and proud of my age (every birthday is another gift); the greatest thing I have done is contribute the beauty that my clone-like daughter Sophia has to offer. She is my legacy. I am a total mama’s girl; always have been, always will be. I have a Black-Irish bond (unbreakable) with my siblings. I am comfortable in my own skin. I have never been insecure, not once. I love people; but prefer kids to adults. I am not the least bit judgmental; but can hold a grudge to my grave. I follow my heart more than my head. Intentionally.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The 'Wil' of the War & Muskego Military Heroes

At first glance, you would never guess that the American hero pictured in this photograph has a bullet lodged in his frontal lobe of his brain. He was shot in Iraq, by way of hostile fire while voluntarily defend our freedom. My freedom, our freedom and those that are the future of our country. When I asked him if he would do it all over again if he knew the outcome, he did not hesitate before he answered me with, 'yes, I want to help our country'. He is simply amazing, I am honored by this fellow American, grateful beyond expression and so completely humbled.
Here is the entire feature...
Memorial Day
What it is, what its not & ‘Muskego Military’ we salute.

Most people know that Memorial Day is a three day weekend, in which we take time to ‘memorialize’ those who have lost their lives in military combat while defending our freedom, while this is true, there is much more meaning and history behind this day of remembrance.
Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was time set aside to honor the nation's soldiers who lost their lives during the battles of the civil war. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, by proclamation of General John A. Logan, of the Grand Army of the Republic. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared that;
‘The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.’
Regardless of its origin, Memorial Day has become a national day of honor and a time Americans celebrate the freedom that has come with a great price, because ‘freedom is not free’. The men and women of the United States Military bravely risk their life to defend and insure the continued freedom of our country.
Officer Gary Leon, of the Muskego police department and a veteran of the US Air force said, ‘During my time in the Air Force I spent many years overseas. While spending time in foreign countries, I came to realize, first hand, that the United States is the greatest country in the world. It may not be perfect, but our form of government and our freedoms, granted under our constitution, dwarf those of other countries. I've always been proud to be an American, but after spending 22 years in it's service, I feel a special pride when I see our flag waving proudly, knowing many men and women gave their lives so we can continue to enjoy our freedom.’

Memorial Day In Muskego…
Meet a ‘Few Good Men’ And Women With Ties To The Military

”Once a Marine, always a marine… I wish I could be there fighting by his side”
- Robert Anderson Sr. of Muskego

From Iraq, With Love.
A Fathers Legacy… Much More Than A Namesake.

Robert Anderson Sr. of Muskego, and his son, Robert Anderson Jr., who is currently deployed in Iraq have much more in common than their name, both father and son take pride in being a part of The united States Marine Corp. Anderson Jr. is currently serving overseas as a communications operator, with Fox Co. 2nd Bn 24th, which ironically is the exact same unit which his father, Anderson Sr. served with when enlisted in the Marine Corp.
“My father is my hero. He always has been. He is a great father as well as my best friend. I always wanted to be like my father, strong, intelligent, and brave. I would run around in his cammies, shouting Marine Corps hymns every day when I was a boy”, said Anderson Jr. “(My parents) always knew I would join. Besides, it is the few and the proud that enlist, not the scared and unfortunate.” He adds.
Sgt Robert L Anderson Jr.Father of two, enlisted in the Marines in December of 2002, at age 19, and was initially stationed in Hawaii, with 1st Bn 12th Marines 3rd MARDIV, where he was joined by his wife, Sophia, and blessed with the birth of his first child, Ariana Rose Anderson, born on 6/6/06.
“Sophia & I met at my fathers wedding while I was home on leave. After some years went by I went home with this crazy idea to get married to her and fly her out to Hawaii” he said, “considering (Sophia’s father) George is a former Marine, it made it even harder, because if he was anything like my father; which he is, I knew I was walking on egg shells. But we did it. In Hawaii, we had Ariana who was born at 1 lb. 6 oz. and was on life support for the first 6 months of her life. It cost 1,300.00 dollars a day for her care. With all thanks to the military, she was very well taken care off. She will be two years old in June and is doing great with only minor global delays, but catching up very fast.”
Anderson Jr. and his wife Sophia, whom he affectionately refers to as a ‘full time professional mommy’, along with their baby girl, Ariana, who continues to overcome the tremendous medical challenges she was born with, remained stationed in Hawaii, until Anderson Jr. reached the end of his four year contract with the Marine Corp, they then returned to Wisconsin. Anderson Jr. remained inactive for just over a year, working as a civilian at A&A Transmissions, a family business owned by his father and best friend Anderson Sr. One year after their return, the couple purchased a condo in Waukesha, to suit the needs of an expanding family. In addition to young Ariana, the Anderson’s received the joyful news that they were expecting a second child, but that was not the only news for the couple. One month after the purchase of their home, the Marine was reactivated, and deployed to Iraq. With this, also came the reality that he would miss the birth of his second child, a son.
Alexander James Anderson was born on 5/2/08. He weighed in at healthy 8 lbs. 14oz's. “He is just a few days old, and I have yet to meet him” said Anderson Jr. Alexander will be nearly five months old, before his father is able to see him for the first time. The proud father and loyal Marine eagerly awaits the moment he steps off the plane and reunites with his family. When asked about his personal goals for the future, Anderson Jr. said, “To come home with all my fingers and toes and spend every minute of every day with my family and loved ones. To buy a bigger home and get a dog and just enjoy life, freedom, safety and security that our fallen heroes have given us”.
Like most military personnel, when asked about the inspiration behind his choice to serve our country, Anderson is quick to credit “pride” as his driving force to enlist with the Marine Corp, “Most of my pride comes from helping other Marines. I see a lot of young Marines having the same problems I had when I was their age and to be able to help them whether it’s adapting to the Corps or everyday life issues that we all go through. The Marine Corps is a band of brothers. I would do anything for the Marine to the left and right of me and I know they would do the same” he said. When asked about his fears, his response was again very similar to the majority of those interviewed, whose answers reflect a ‘fearless’ and humble nature, he said, “My greatest fear is for my Marines, myself, and most importantly our fallen heroes not to be appreciated for the sacrifice we gave to so many back home. We follow orders and fight for the nation we created, in the process we find our self helping others daily. I know our country supports and always have supported the troops. My fear is that they do not support our mission. I want to know 20 years from now that they can look back and know that what we did here was something good, something that needed to be done.”
Anderson’s current responsibility as a communications operator is to provide stabilization for the final transition between coalition forces and the new Iraqi government, military, and local police. Throughout his military career he has been stationed in Australia, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, and Iraq. “My duty in all but Iraq was to conduct communications for artillery in order to get rounds down range. In Japan my unit was sent in support of the tsunami relief in Indonesia” reports Anderson.
Anderson Jr. is the son of Cynthia Kaminski whom he credits for “enormous heart and big green eyes” and Robert Anderson Sr. of Muskego, and the step-son of Steve Kaminski (husband of Cynthia) and Christine Anderson (wife of Robert Sr.), and the brother of older sisters Michelle and Alexis, whom Anderson acknowledges as “the greatest”, he proudly adds, “She loves me greatly and supports me in what ever I do.”
To those that may have a loved one over seas this memorial day, Sgt Robert Anderson Jr. of the United States Marine Corps, offers these words of comfort, “We are doing extremely well in making Iraq a more secure place. Not only for our safety, but for the safety of the innocent Iraqi's that have been living under the inhumane laws and punishments of the Islamic Extremist's. This in turn will make our airports, our schools safer back home. In the end, our children's future will be safer.”
In conclusion, Anderson Jr. said, “A friend once told me ‘The greatest feeling of serving in Iraq is when you come home and step off the plane. So many people are there waiting to greet you and nothing else in the world mattered. They knew what you did and what you accomplished. It’s just great to see the smiling faces of your loved ones that have waited for the day you would come home. Every one is so proud of you and that alone is the greatest feeling’. That statement was giving to me by Cpl Richard Nelson while training in Twenty-nine Palms. CA. Cpl Richard Nelson was KIA on April 14th, 2008, along with Lcpl Dean Opicka. This was Cpl Richard Nelsons second tour. Cpl Richard Nelson and Lcpl Dean Opicka are home now. May they rest in peace.”

Honor & Duty…
A Family Tradition.

Mark Joyce, of Muskego, is a veteran Desert Storm. He served in the U.S. Air Force as an E-4 Senior Airman (Active 1987-1991). Joyce, a husband to Tracy, and father of Alexis (15) and Anthony (17), who has paved his way to follow in the patriotic footsteps of his father.
Seventeen-year old Anthony is a member of the Army National Guard, and certainly has the support of his father. Joyce knows the military not only is necessary for the continued freedom and safety of our country, but also believes his son’s service will instill values and teach lessons that he may not learn as a civilian.
“(the military teaches lessons of) Honor and Duty. As over used as those words may be, those qualities are very real and something that not everyone truly appreciates” said Joyce. When asked how his own parents felt about his decision to enlist, he said, “(my parents were)Very proud, my parents have always been strong supporters of the military and their mission, so to have a son serving was very important to them.”
Throughout his four year contract, Joyce spent two years in Germany, at Hahn Air Base, with unit, 6911th, Electronic Security Squadron.
“I was serving with an intelligence unit in Germany during the end of the Cold war, thus being there at that time and seeing the end of the Berlin wall was a very significant event in history. Knowing that in some small way I contributed to that puts something very real behind my service” he said. When asked about his sources of strength and courage while on this mission, Joyce said, “I am fortunate to have come from a great family and have good friends, knowing that I had their support and knowing their pride in what I was doing helped. I'm also a Christian so knowing that I have the support of God didn't hurt either.” He continues, “I took my duty very seriously because being in Intelligence whether peace time or during a conflict, my mission was always critical. So if anything was always on my mind it was that any failure could affect the security of our nation”
To those that have family and friends overseas this memorial day, Mark Joyce extends the following words of comfort; “The best think I could offer is to recognize that their efforts are very important and in takes a certain type of person to serve their country as these great people are doing. Take pride in that and trust in God that they are doing what's right and will return home safely.”

‘Wil’ of the War & Muskego’s Magic Medicine
Meet 2008’s Nurse Of The Year

With Memorial Day approaching, Muskego residents have yet another reason to stand proud within our community. We have our very own ‘angel of mercy among us’, and her name is Lisa K. Alberte, a rehabilitation nurse and founder of ‘Lisa K. Alberte & Associates’ of Muskego. Alberte dedicated her life to the rehabilitation of those that fall victim to brain injury. ‘Someone falls victim to brain injury every 19 seconds’, she said, and she can tell you first hand the effects of this tragic, yet often preventable epidemic has not only on its patients, but also their family and friends, as well as, those in the medical field. Alberte goes above and beyond the call of duty for her patients, as part of the rehabilitation process, she becomes an advocate, a friend and a mentor, she includes the patients support network of loved ones. Lisa is a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing and a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. One of her patients says she is definitely a RN with BSN----Real Nice with Blessed Skills of Nursing. She is also a Certified Case Manager (CCM), Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) and American Board Certified Disability Analyst (ABDA). From the tragedy she sees, Lisa recognized the need to do even more. She has conducted safety classes, taught CPR, AED and first aide and remarkably she is also a Certified Forklift Operator and Instructor. She applies both of her abilities by instructing forklift classes while using her nursing training to emphasize and describe real life injuries which may occur if strict safety procedures are not followed. “I have seen first hand severe injuries from forklift operation and have dedicated some of my practice to prevention. Guys are not always prepared for a small, petite blonde teaching forklift classes. But if they are not safe, they do not pass. Driving a forklift is no different than driving my daddy’s tractor.” Alberte developed her skill for driving equipment safely through years of driving her father’s tractor on a beef farm in Chaseburg, Wisconsin, where she was raised. Alberte says she was, "Raised on country sunshine".
Alberte previously ran a support group for a rehabilitation hospital and in 2006; she started ‘Embracing Hope’, a support group for clients and families affected by brain injury. Lisa sees the potential in her patients and restores hope no matter how hopeless it may seem. She believes love and encouragement and laughter will assist the medical process on the road to recovery. Her patients must agree because she was recently nominated by several of her patients with brain injuries as the 2008 ‘Nurse of the Year’ and was chosen as 2008 Nurse of the Year by the Wisconsin District Nurses Associations and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She was the first entrepreneur ever to receive the recognition and honor of Nurse of the Year. “I didn’t even know my patients nominated me”, reports the humble nurse. Lisa also has received the Individual Advocacy Award by the Brain Injury Association in 2004 and the Healthcare Hero Award for Community Service in 2006 by the Small Business Times. Again, these award nominations came from several patients and families with brain injuries nominating Lisa. If patients speak volumes for the medical personnel that care for them, then Alberte’s receipt of these awards speaks testimony to her excellence in patient advocacy, community service and the nursing field.
Lisa had footprints embedded on her heart from a patient she recently has been working with.
At first glance, Winlom ‘Wil’ Woods, looks like a regal E5 sergeant of the United States Army, like he once was, but it is not long before the effects of the bullet permanently lodged in the frontal lobe of his brain become apparent. Woods, now 34, sustained the gunshot to the head by way of hostile fire while serving our country in Iraq on July 15th, 2006. Throughout an 11 year army career, Woods spent the last two years overseas. When he was shot, he was driving a truck to transport needed equipment and supplies to soldiers at different bases. Woods was unarmed at the time of the attack. “Half of his skull flap was gone”, said Alberte, who is Woods’ rehab nurse, “(after the attack) he was flown to a hospital in Germany, where he stayed for two weeks, they didn’t know if he would live or die”, she adds.
According to Alberte, Woods was given the choice to go to Walter Reed Hospital but the love and determination of his grandmother, Mattie Shaw prevailed and her request was to have him flown to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee. He initially kept in a medically induced coma. With an absent father who was never involved in his life and the death of his mother when he was 8 years old, Woods was raised by his grandmother and grandfather in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The physicians at Froedtert also had a grim, unknown prognosis as to the recovery and rehabilitation for an injury of this magnitude, they were not overly optimistic about his survival either. The one thing they knew for certain is that the bullet could not be removed from his brain; they concluded that if it were; he would die.
Doctors brought Woods out of the induced coma, and he was moved from the acute hospital setting once medically stable to a sub-acute brain injury program for the extensive rehabilitation process to begin, which is where he found his way into the heart of a nurse that would become crucial to his long term recovery. At the time, Lisa Alberte was a consultant to this brain injury program where she worked as rehabilitation specialist, and as fate would have it she was now one of the medical rehab professionals assisting Wil Woods on his road to recovery, community integration and eventual employment. Alberte had an accomplice in the form of a toy sized poodle named ‘Spunky’ (pictured in photo), “ one of (Wil’s) first interactions during the recovery process was to Spunky”, said Alberte, who has since acquired a second enthusiastic toy poodle, named LauraLy to aid in the rehabilitation process. The nurses ‘assistants’ certainly have made a difference with Woods; he acknowledges the vital role the dog has played in his rehabilitation process, that is far from over. “When Wil first met Spunky, Wil could barely hold him on his lap in his wheelchair. Spunky used to walk the halls at the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center of Milwaukee with Wil. Gait belt attached to his waist and stand-by assistance of his therapists, Wil had to learn to walk again and often a 7 pound poodle could pull him over if not assisted with his walking. Because of the bullet damage and the severity of the brain injury, he had to learn to walk, talk, dress himself and eat again.” Alberte adds,” Spunky always seem to bring a smile to Wil and made him try harder, even on days he felt down”.
Wil added “The wagging tail, affection wet licks and colorful costumes also brighten his day.”
When Alberte first met Woods, he was in a wheelchair, unable to walk or talk intelligently and his future may have seemed grim to most, but when Alberte looked at her new patient, she didn’t see ‘grim’ and she refused to accept any prognosis of the sort. She looked in the eyes of a man, a father, a son, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a worker, a human being, an injured sergeant of the US Army, who suffered a horrific gun shot wound to the head while defending the freedom of the United States of America. She envisioned him walking and talking, and when it comes to the advocacy of her patients, ‘No’, ‘Grim’, and ‘Hopeless’ are not part of her dialect. “Just like there is no crying in baseball, there is no giving up in brain injury. Every failed try is an opportunity to support, encourage and help maximize a person’s potential. Hopelessness has to be turned into hopefulness” she said.
Nearly two years after being shot in Iraq, Winlom Woods is able to walk and talk, but not without some great challenges. Currently he is living at a rehabilitation facility, where he receives 24 hour supervision, and still works closely with Lisa Alberte to slowly progress in the rehab process. “He feels forgotten by the world”, Alberte said, “it is crucial for patients with brain injury to have a sense of self worth and purpose, and the best way to do that is to allow them to have community integration, live in the most therapeutic environment and least restrictive, their own home if possible and find them a job. For some of us, ‘work’, may be nothing more than a four letter word, but to my patients, it is a reason to get up and a source of motivation that places them back into the mainstream of our community”, which is why she has made it her mission to try establish employment, by way of businesses that will work closely with her to delegate duties that are within capabilities, of her patients. “These jobs would have my ongoing job structuring, job coaching and hands on assistance along with some very creative and wonderful patients. One idea I thought of was realtors hiring my patients to prepare and clean their listing for an open house or a showing” Alberte said. Woods couldn’t agree more, when asked what his greatest challenge thus far, since his return from Iraq, he replied, “not having a job”. Woods, a former corrections officer in Franklin, is a “natural born leader” according to Alberte, “some of his fellow soldiers that signed the flag that he was presented after his injury (pictured) addressed him as ‘Noah’, and when I asked him why, he said it was because he ‘ran the ship’ as a strong leader, it was a reference to the story of Noah’s Ark”. Although Woods may never realistically regain the physical and/ or cognitive ability it requires to be a corrections officer, he certainly is capable of many other duties as Lisa has continued to assist with maximizing his vocational potential every time they meet. Woods claims he would return to the war and that he would do it all over again, even if he knew the outcome in advance because he “wants to help our country”, and Alberte is determined to help this man, who would once again sacrificed his own life as he knows it to defend our country, to find gainful employment to which will be beneficial to both the employer and Woods.
Wil has been an active member and participant in Embracing Hope, the brain injury support group since Lisa Alberte came into his life. The tales hardships and tragic stories Alberte hears from her patients has inspired her to set yet another goal to help her clients. “I want to open an Abilities, Achievement and Advocacy Center that is patient driven and patient ran to help all clients’ like Wil who sustain traumatic brain injuries” she said. “All clients like Wil deserve assistance with living skills to gain independency and all deserve a job that is meaningful to them. In addition, getting an Embracing Hope House in which clients can live independently with nursing/caregiver support can help keep patients like Wil feel like they have a warm and comforting home.” Wil wants to be an integral part of the Abilities, Achievement and Advocacy Center if funding can be found. “He wants to be Vice-President” says Alberte, “to be a leader again to those who need the most help, to help other patients like him”. Wil’s will, leadership and determination continues on, no matter his deficits and he knows he can continue to make a difference if others could give him and patients like him a chance. As a single mother who currently finds funding and financials to being the biggest obstacle, to help Wil obtain his wish, Lisa urges readers that may be in a position to give back to this soldier and all clients affected by brain injury, by way of employment or donations or help the Abilities, Achievement and Advocacy become a reality to Wil and others affected by brain injury to contact her.
Woods, as a result of post traumatic stress disorder, can picture the attack. He remembers the moment that there was a gun pointed at his truck. “It’s hot and scary there (in Iraq) and you always have to watch your back, but I knew I had a very important job there”, he said. When asked what kept him going during his time in Iraq, he replied, “the care packages from home, people need communications (from friends and family) when they are over there”. According to Woods, the love and encouragement from family and friends is vital to keep spirits high.
To those that have loved one overseas this Memorial Day, Woods advises, “don’t panic, and always support your loved one”. Mattie Shaw, Woods’ grandmother, also lends advice, she said, “Trust in the good Lord. When they call home encourage them and tell them how proud you are, but most important, cherish every moment with them”.
Woods made it this far, despite the many cynics and struggles along the way, thanks to his “Wil-full” spirit, the love and support of family and friends, a special grandmother he calls ‘mom’, a talented team of medical rehab professionals, a loyal toy poodle along with the poodle’s special lady sidekick, and the ‘magic medicine’ of Muskego’s very own ‘Nurse of the Year’, Lisa K. Alberte.
Please see the opinion section for a poem written by Lisa K. Alberte, through Wil’s perspective by listening and understanding his needs and wants along the rocky road to rehabilitation.
For those who may wish to donate much needed funds, letters of encouragement or items, to the crusade of these two American heroes, or to request further information, please contact-
Lisa K. Alberte, RN, BSN, CCM, MS, CRC, ABDA
Lisa K. Alberte & Associates
P.O. Box 615 Muskego, WI 53150
Phone: 262-679-9684 Fax: 262-679-9683

She Follows In The Footsteps Of The Brave Men Who Went Before Her

Luann Roberts, of Muskego, is a soft-hearted kindergarten teacher, and she can certainly bear witness to the personal effects of a love one serving in the military, because she is a ‘veteran’ by her own right to this role. Luann is the widow of Navy veteran, Jerry Roberts, and mother of Joseph, Stacy, and Stephanie, who is currently a member of the United States Navy. “She joined the Navy because her late father had been in the Navy and Naval Reserves” she said.
Stephanie A. Roberts, a graduate of Muskego High School, is an intelligence specialist petty officer second class (IS2) in the United States Navy. She is currently on active duty stationed out of Jacksonville, FL, with squadron SEACONRON THREE-TWO (VS-32).
Stephanie is no stranger to the navy; she follows not only in the footsteps of her father, but her paternal grandfather and uncle as well. “My father joined the Navy to be able to pay for college and also to see the world. He said he was working at the Ford Plant in his hometown in Michigan after high school and realized he didn’t want to spend the rest of his working life there. My decision to join the Navy was similar to my dad’s. After I graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2004 and I did non-profit work in China as an English teacher, I couldn’t find a job that I found fulfilling. I realized I didn’t quite want to settle down yet or go back to school for my masters. I always knew I wanted to join the Navy at some point, but my parents wanted me to go to college first. I also still wanted to be able to travel and see more of the world. So I joined the Navy in March of 2005. I left for boot camp in Great Lakes, IL July 27, 2005” Stephanie said, she continues, “As a kid I always thought it was cool to know that my dad was in the Navy. Not many other kids I knew could say that and I loved telling people about him. Now that I’m in the military I feel the same pride because I know that some day my kids can say the same thing about me, their mom. Also, I’d like to think of myself as a role-model for other females in the Navy as well as civilians.”
While on missions, Stephanie credit family for a source of strength, she said, “I always think about my family back home while I’m out on deployment and count down the days till I get back…that’s what gets me through the long months while I’m gone”
Supportive mother LuAnn adds, “I am very proud of Stephanie and what she has done while in the Navy. She has received awards from her squadron for the job she has done while on deployment. My mother Claudia Beauchamp, Stephanie’s sister Stacy, and I, (along with two uncles and an aunt) were able to be at the homecoming of the USS Enterprise last December in Florida. What an experience to see Stephanie in her dress uniform, along with hundreds of others lining the deck of the Enterprise. It was very moving to be a part of the cheering crowd that welcomed these men and women back after a five month deployment.”
LuAnn plans to celebrate Memorial Day visiting the cemetery and putting flowers out in memory of loved ones, and extends these words of comfort for those, like her, that may have loved ones far from home this holiday, “We offer prayers for all the loved ones overseas, that God watches over them and keeps them safe. We also pray for comfort and peace for the families as they wait to hear from loved ones and wait for them to return home.”

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