Party on tap for brigade

Feeding a brigade of hungry soldiers and their families not only requires a lot of food, but also a lot of money.

That’s what Denise Burditus, president of the Lacey subchapter of the nationwide Association of the United States Army, realized when the nonprofit organization began a campaign to pay for a homecoming barbecue for the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

More than half of the $30,000 needed to feed an estimated 5,000 people has been raised, organizers say. The barbecue is scheduled for Sept. 14 at Cowan Stadium on JBLM.

The subchapter has raised money during several community events but most of the funding has come from businesses.

Donations can be made through any Harborstone Credit Union or Heritage Bank and will be accepted until the day before the event.

“Any donation amount would be greatly appreciated to help us put the barbecue on,” Burditus said.

The barbecue is the first major event for the subchapter, which formed in March.

Burditus said brigade liaisons pitched the barbecue idea but needed the subchapter to raise the funds.

“It was kind of something that they had on the books, and we just helped them make it a reality,” Burditus said.

Lacey and the 3,800-member brigade are connected through the Community Connector Program. The 3rd Stryker Brigade was the first Army Stryker Brigade to deploy in November 2003 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, said JBLM spokesman Joseph Piek. During its three tours, the brigade suffered 77 casualties, Piek said. The most recent 12-month deployment saw eight casualties. The brigade lost 20 soldiers in its first deployment and 49 soldiers during a 15-month deployment that began June 2006, Piek said.

The brigade started its return to JBLM this July after its most recent 12-month tour in Iraq. Its command team returned Aug. 6, marking the tail end of the deployment, Piek said.

The menu for the barbecue hasn’t been finalized, but Burditus can make one claim.

“They will have food and it will be good,” she said.

For more information about the 3rd Stryker Brigade’s homecoming fundraiser, contact Burditus at 360-570-7356.

Nate Hulings: 360-754-5476 nhulings@theolympian.com