Bringing Comforts of Home to Returning Soldiers

Plano-based "Operation Once in a Lifetime" prepares for 2,000 returning soldiers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    As Texas-based servicemen and women get ready to come home to Fort Hood from Iraq, Plano-based Operation Once in a Lifetime is making sure they have a place to rest their heads. (Published Monday, Nov 14, 2011)

    Thousands of soldiers are coming home for good this holiday season and one Plano-based charity is helping the armed forces make the transition from the front lines to the home front.

    Money made at the Operation Once in a Lifetime Resale Center in Plano makes up 10% of the charity's funds to support American soldiers, the rest comes from donations.

    Plano Charity Welcomes Home 2,000 Texas Troops

    [DFW] Plano Charity Welcomes Home 2,000 Texas Troops
    As Texas-based servicemen and women get ready to come home to Fort Hood from Iraq, Plano-based Operation Once in a Lifetime is making sure they have a place to rest their heads. (Published Monday, Nov 14, 2011)

    In the coming months the donations are going toward the organization's biggest mission as thousands of Texas troops return home because of downsizing in the U.S. military and the presidential declaration to withdraw forces from the Iraq by the end of the year.

    "Soldiers are people. People first. Not a deceased soldier, not a wounded soldier, not a deployed soldier, just a person," said Patrick Sowers, Operation Once in a Lifetime founder and former sergeant with the United States Army.

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    An Arlington Marine's homecoming surprised his family at the Marine Corp Birthday Ball. (Published Saturday, Nov 12, 2011)

    Sowers is on his way to Fort Hood, coordinating a massive effort to welcome soldiers home from Iraq.

    "Now it’s 2,000 soldiers coming back in December," Sowers said.

    Soldier Surprises Kids

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    A St. Louis, Missouri father away from his family for nine months while serving in Iraq was able to surprise his children in person on Veterans Day. First Lt. John Pfanstiel had told his wife that he would be able to come home from Iraq on leave, but decided to surprise his children. (Published Tuesday, Nov 25, 2008)

    For single men and women, the transition stateside means coming "home" to an empty barracks room and a mattress – no sheets and no pillow.

    While helping Sowers “clean out” the supply of fleece blankets and sheets from Anna’s Linens in Plano, Cindy Brackeen noted her nephew may be on the receiving end of this particular load.

    Returning Soldier Surprises Wife at DFW Airport

    [DFW] Returning Soldier Surprises Wife at DFW Airport
    Alicia Young had no idea her husband was among the soldiers she was about to welcome home. (Published Thursday, Mar 5, 2009)

    "He will be coming home the middle of December to Fort Hood," Brackeen said. "It makes me thrilled to know that someone cares enough."

    Over the past four years, Operation Once in a Lifetime donated more than $500,000 worth of  pillows, sheets and blankets to returning servicemen and women.

    Operation Once in a Lifetime also provides other services such as flying service members home to visit family, taking them to football games or supporting a military family after a cancer diagnosis.

    More: Operation Once in a Lifetime