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Merry & Bright

A local group is on a mission to help reunite new Airmen with their families this holiday season.

The Barksdale Company Grade Officers Council (CGOC) initiated Operation Bright Holiday in 2008 as a morale boost for young airmen who are experiencing their first duty station at Barksdale Air Force Base.

Many first-term Airmen are away from home for the first time, and do not have the means to travel home during the holidays,” said 1st Lieutenant Monique Roux, the 2015 Operation Bright Holiday Chairman. “We are committed to helping these young Airmen and are happy to have this program as a way to increase morale for some of the newest members of our Air Force.”

Airmen who are selected to participate in Operation Bright Holiday must be at Barksdale AFB as First-Term Airmen and also demonstrate exceptional job performance. Airmen are nominated for this program by their supervisor or First Sergeant. Once applications are received, the Executive Committee of the CGOC scores the nominations based on level of need, job performance, and previous participation in the program. Priority is given to those with outstanding financial concerns, which would prevent them from otherwise covering their travel costs.

A recipient list is made based on the Executive Committee’s scores and travel is funded starting at the top of their list. 65 Airmen have been nominated to be part of Operation Bright Holiday this year.

In order to fund the travel costs, the CGOC hosts several fundraising events during the year. In 2008, Operation Bright Holiday sent nine Airmen home. In 2014, the CGOC raised $43,000 to send 97 Airmen home for the holidays.

However, this year’s fundraising events haven’t been so successful. Roux said an additional $10,000 is needed to send all nominees home this year. Their deadline to collect remaining funds is Nov. 16.

Travel dates for this program are between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15 of each year. Roux hopes they can gather enough donations this year to send all 65 nominated Airmen home for the holidays.

Along with funding trips, the Barksdale Company Grade Officers Council will host a morale event at the dorms for the Airmen who will remain at Barksdale during the holidays. In addition to the monetary donations, Roux said they will accept any donations from businesses for the dorm morale event, such as food, drinks and paper goods.

The Barksdale Company Grade Officer’s Council, who oversees the Operation Bright Holiday program, is a 501©3 nonprofit organization comprised of military members who voluntarily participate, not on behalf of the Department of Defense, the Air Force, or any official unit. Donations made to this organization are tax deductible. For more information, contact 1st Lieutenant Monique Roux at operationbrightholiday@gmail.com.

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