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Family Readiness Groups benefit from R.O.S.S.

From left to right, West Fargo VFW members Don Faith and Charlie Weible, North Dakota Army National Guard member Jarrod Simek, West Fargo VFW member Bill Tuff and West Fargo Ladies Auxiliary members Joyce Weible and Jackie Faith pose with a photo donated to the West Fargo VFW during a presentation at the Fargo Armed Services Center in Fargo on Sunday, May 22.

Local military family groups will benefit from the generosity of community members who participated in the annual Remember Our Serving Soldiers, or R.O.S.S., event. This was the eighth year West Fargo VFW Post 7564 sponsored the event.

Charlie Weible, event founder, presented a check to the groups for $14,498.30 on Sunday, May 22. The amount trumps last year's total of $13,126 and is an all-time high for the event. Overall, about $75,000 has been raised through the R.O.S.S., Weible said.

"It's a pretty good thing to be able to donate money like this, but it's not just me," Weible said at the event. "This is a club effort. It gives us great satisfaction to help out as much as we can because the Guard sure pulls enough of its own weight for us."

Fellow VFW member Don Faith, who was on hand for the check donation said, like himself, many of the present-day VFW members are Vietnam War-era veterans and they understand the difference between having support and not having it.

"It's just so important for us to show them that they are supported," he said.

The money from the R.O.S.S. will be divided amongst nine groups that support family members of those serving in the North Dakota National Guard and U.S. Navy Reserve. The groups plan to use the funds to support families through networking activities with other military families, activities for military children, resources for coping with the stressors of military life and more.

"We're just so proud to be able help the families in our unit," said Kim Opitz, a representative with the North Dakota Army National Guard's 426th Signal Network Support Company's Family Readiness Group. The unit has members training at Fort Hood, Texas, this month. "We're here for the families all year round, whether their Soldier is home or not."

She said the money from the VFW donation goes a long way in helping the 426th Family Readiness Group assist families and provide for offerings, such as "Baby Baskets," a bundle of helpful products for parents of newborns.

Ginny Bachmann said the 119th Wing Family Readiness Group uses the money from the VFW donation to support gatherings and special events for the spouses and families of 119th Airmen.

"It so much fun to get together to see each other and to see each other's kids from time to time," Bachmann said.

Bachmann said that the 119th Family Readiness Group recently held a Family Zoo Day at the Red River Valley Zoo in Fargo, where they took part in activities such as camel rides for the kids.

"The little kids were all so excited," she said. "Everyone had a great time."

Events like that help keep military families connected, building a necessary support network amongst their peers who understand the challenges of military life. Donations from the R.O.S.S. support such events.