David Stieghan served in the U.S. Army for eight years before being discharged due to a disability. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he tried to get back into service, but was unable. So he started working at Fort Benning as a civilian, helping support those who defend the country as the Infantry Branch Historian.
When he returned to Fort Benning 10 years ago, Stieghan also started a program called Thanksgiving for Soldiers.
It began as something that he and his family wanted to do -- take a couple of soldiers into their home for dinner and some relaxation -- but as more families heard what Stieghan was doing, more wanted to participate.
Stieghan said they usually target soldiers attending Airborne School, a three-week course that doesn’t allow participants to go home for the holiday or have a vehicle on post.
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While a Thanksgiving meal is served at the Airborne School mess hall, Steighan said “that’s not the point.” Through Thanksgiving for Soldiers they “get a chance to get out of the barracks, to connect with a family,” he said.
Last year, 142 solders were taken into local homes.
One such soldier was Sgt. 1st Class Naida Hosan, who along with another soldier, Ryan King, spent the day with Oz Roberts and his family.
“The Roberts family treated Ryan and me like special guests,” Hosan wrote in a recent email to the Ledger-Enquirer. “They prepared a fantastic meal and made us feel right at home. It was a true blessing to spend Thanksgiving with such a nice family during my stressful airborne training.!”
Hosan is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., in the 4th Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division and will be deploying to Afghanistan in February.
Stieghan said families who wish to participate in Thanksgiving for Soldiers this year should contact him at email@example.com by Nov. 22 to let him know how many soldiers they would like to host.