By Colleen Flaherty

Fort Hood Herald

About 200 turkey-toting soldiers dotted the 1st Medical Brigade campus Thursday during an event sponsored by Faith for Soldiers.

Soldiers, mostly from the brigade, were determined eligible for the free bird and fixings by their command financial specialists.

Organization co-founder Sgt. 1st Class Terry Mason, 21st Combat Support Hospital, 1st Medical Brigade, thinks soldiers deserve a good holiday feast regardless of their financial status, he said.

"They put their neck on the line, getting shot at for their country," he said. "They have the right to have a meal at home with their family."

Mason and his wife, Tina, had been helping soldiers and their spouses cope with the stresses of military and family life unofficially for years before the Nov. 5, 2009, shootings on post.

Following those events, the couple sought to formalize their emotional, spiritual and financial support of soldiers by applying for nonprofit status and forming a board of directors.

They called themselves Faith for Soldiers, after their daughter, Faith, who died shortly after her birth 11 years ago.

This was the organization's first Thanksgiving turkey distribution.

The need for such events is greater than what the civilian population might expect, Sgt. Carmen Milton, 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 1st Medical Brigade, said after picking up meals for two of her soldiers.

Calling the commonly held belief that everyone in the military is financially secure a "misperception," lower enlisted soldiers' budgets can be especially stretched, she said.

"No one thinks about how many kids they have, or whether their spouse works," she said. "You'd be surprised to see how much need there is."

That need never dissipates," Tina said.

"On any given day, we're working with 10 military families," she said, from providing emotional support to more tangible things, such as meals.

Donors who would like to sponsor a December kids event can contact Tina at (254) 317-9045 or make a deposit in the organization's account at any Extraco Bank location.

Contact Colleen Flaherty at or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.

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