From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, several thousand troops demobilizing from Iraq and Afghanistan, along with civilians heading to and from war zones, pass through the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Johnson County, Indiana. On average, 200 of these diverse visitors, all from different ethnicities, backgrounds, and religions, come through the center on a daily basis. While all are required to spend a few minutes with the Chaplains stationed there, the cookies offered by the Chaplains to these visitors instantly put them at ease.
“A common problem is stress,” says CH (CPT) Rev. David Mark Owens of the Indiana Guard Reserve. “These homecomings and goings are poignant. Babies are born, and deaths occur. Returning soldiers may carry emotional baggage from former deployments. People need good conversation and support to keep them going. The cookies give the Chaplains in the mobilization center more time to speak with these soldiers and civilians, giving them a moment to pause and do just that.”
Thanks to annual contributions by volunteers and companies such as Indianapolis-based architecture and engineering firm American Structurepoint, “Operation: Cookie Drop” has been fortunate to provide thousands of cookies to visiting soldiers and civilians.
Since 2010, American Structurepoint has helped collect 282 dozen cookies for Camp Atterbury, offering them a warm Hoosier welcome and some comforts of home. The excess of cookies has even made their reach to other areas, including the USO, the USO at Indianapolis International Airport, Stout Field, and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center. In gratitude, Owens presented two plaques on May 16, 2012, to President Willis R. Conner, on behalf of American Structurepoint, and to Jeff McCann of the Environmental Group.
“We had 43 groups involved this year, and American Structurepoint was one of the top five single location donors,” Owens says. “We’re grateful to all the American Structurepoint employees for their unfailing patriotism.
The plaques read: “We believe your cookies made a difference in people’s lives, providing a moment of encouragement and a taste of home.” Owens also gives this analogy: “When an Army Unit is in the field, the commander will put the best troops in the front to lead the others. During Operation Cookie Donation ’11, American Structurepoint was ‘put on point,’ and their leadership was outstanding!”