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Local Airman, wife recognized by president

President Bush takes a moment for photographs with Tech. Sgt. Brian Webster and his wife Theresa Webster after presenting the Presidential Service Award to the sergeant. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chenzira Mallory)

President Bush takes a moment for photographs with Tech. Sgt. Brian Webster and his wife Theresa Webster after presenting the Presidential Service Award to the sergeant. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chenzira Mallory)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A local Airman was recognized for his volunteer service by President George Bush here July 21 during a visit to Buckley Air Force Base and Colorado.

Tech. Sgt. Brian of the 566th Information Operations Squadron received the Presidential Service Award for his volunteer work with the group, Hearts Across the Miles.

"Being recognized by the President of the United States is awesome," said Sergeant Brian. "I couldn't have done this, though, without the support of my wife, Theresa."

Sergeant Brian and his wife founded Hearts Across the Miles nearly two years ago.

"Almost two years ago we volunteered to help a woman doing a craft fair to benefit her grandson who was deployed to the Middle East," he said. "We thought then that we could make this bigger, better."

From this small effort, Hearts Across the Miles was born.

"The thing about Hearts (Across the Miles) that's important to us is that this is all about supporting the troops," he added. "We have to make sure they don't feel forgotten when they're deployed. The military takes care of the 'needs' of these service members. We let them know that America cares and that they have not been forgotten."

In fact, according to the Hearts Across the Miles Web site, this is the organization's primary mission. And, armed with a team of volunteers the Webster's get the job done.

"This is our family - our volunteers - active duty, national guard, and reserve, families and retirees," said Mrs. Webster. "They understand that the key word in our care packages is care."

Sergeant Webster noted that the people in the Denver metro area care about the military. Hearts Across the Miles regularly receives donations from local scouting organizations, businesses, churches as well as individuals.

"People want to know the military," said Sergeant Brian. "They want to make it human."

"People want to give, they want to know they are making a difference - providing care, comfort," added Mrs. Webster. "They want to know the needs of our deployed service members are being met."

According to the Webster's, without the volunteers and donations, the giving of care packages would not be possible.

The group now boasts that it has helped several hundred people during the past two years. Currently, the group has more than 80 points of contact deployed to such places as Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar and Africa.

Sergeant Brian said that deployed members can contact them directly through their Web site, www.heartsacrossthemiles.org.

"We've even been contacted by families of deployed service members to see if we can send care packages to them while they're gone," he said.

Hearts Across the Miles was recently invited to become a member of America Supports You, a national service organization recognized by the Department of Defense as providing services to America's men and women in uniform.
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