Supporting Our Military Families:
Cell Phones for Soldiers & Summer Camps

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May 28 , 2008

ISSN: 1538-3202

Issue: 441
Subscribers: 62,333

In This Issue:

Salute to Young Heroes: Brittany & Robbie Bergquist

Wrightslaw Joins Cell Phones for Soldiers Family

Update on HR 5658

Free Summer Camp for
Military Kids

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The Wrightslaw Way: A Special Online Community

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Copyright 2008, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved. Please do NOT reprint or host on your website without explicit permission.

On Memorial Day, we honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives while in military service to our country. Regardless of our personal opinions about these wars, we need to remember the troops, honor them and their sacrifices, and pray for their safe return.

As our thoughts turn to those who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, we wanted to give you an update on the Wrightslaw Team efforts to support our troops.

First, we want to thank you for the support you offered since we published our Be a Hero page. We appreciate your emails, cards, packages, resource information - and especially your encouragement to continue our efforts.

In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate, you'll learn about two young heroes, our partnership with Cell Phones for Soldiers, and how you can help.

You'll also learn about summer camps for military kids and how to support HR 5658 of the Defense Authorization Act to provide increased assistance to military families who have children with autism.

Please don't hesitate to forward this issue to other families, friends, and colleagues.

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Salute to Young Heroes: Brittany and Robbie Bergquist

Meet two young heroes, Brittany Bergquist and her brother Robbie of Norwell, Massachusetts. In April 2004, they pooled $21 of their own money to begin the Cell Phones for Soldiers program.

Robbie and Brittany's program helps soldiers who are serving overseas call home. How does the program work? They collect and recycle old cell phones and use the funds to purchase calling card minutes. Their goal for 2008 is to provide 12 million minutes of prepaid calling cards for troops stationed overseas.

For a 7-year-old who's missing his daddy and his father who is thousands of miles away at war, a phone call is not just a chance to catch up - it's essential. In this video, you'll see how Cell Phones for Soldiers helped one little boy connect with his Dad.

In September 2007, our son was deployed to Iraq. During the weeks of no contact, we lived on an emotional roller coaster. When he called and we heard his voice, we experienced an enormous sense of relief. We know the positive impact a phone call with a loved one can make.

Brittany and Robbie receive the Above and Beyond Youth Leadership Award.

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Wrightslaw Joins the Cell Phones for Soldiers Family

After our son left, we asked ourselves, "What have we done to 'support the troops?'" The answer: "Not much."

We decided to learn all we could about how ordinary people - like us and you - could support the men and women who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Be a Hero

In November 2007, we put information about how you can help on the Be a Hero page. As we learned more about Brittany, Robbie and the Bergquist family, we realized that the Cell Phones for Soldiers program is a perfect match.

The Bergquist family has always been involved in the special education community. Gail, a special education teacher, has been teaching students with learning disabilities since 1978. Bob, a middle school teacher, has a Master's degree in Special Education. Older sister Courtney graduates this year, and worked extensively with learning disabled and ELL students.

We are pleased to partner with the Bergquists, ReCellular, and the Cell Phones for Soldiers program by including a Cell Phones for Soldiers recycling envelope in all orders for Wrightslaw products.

Here's How You Can Help

It's easy and it's free.

When you receive your order from Wrightslaw, you'll find a Cell Phones for Soldiers mailing envelope tucked inside. Place old, unused cell phones in the envelope, seal it, and drop in the nearest mailbox. That's it! No postage required.

What can you do if you want to help but aren't ordering Wrightslaw products?

You can donate a phone.

Print the shipping label.

Do you have a business, school, group or organization? Become a drop-off point for Cell Phones For Soldiers. Learn how.

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Military Dependent Children with Autism: HR 5658 Doubles Cost-share Limit

If you are a military family, you know how difficult coping with disruption of routine or environment is, especially for children with autism. As many as 12,000 children in military families (active duty, reserve and guard) may have autism. For more information and resources see Health & Special Education Services for Military Children with Autism.

Legislative Update: HR 5658 Passes House by vote of 384-23

On May 22, 2008, HR 5658, the Defense Authorization Act of 2009 passed the House by a vote of 384-23. Congressman Joe Sestak (PA – 07), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, successfully inserted numerous pieces of legislation as an amendment to the bill that was passed by the House.

Autistic children of servicemen and women will receive a minimum of $5,000 per month of autistic services, which is double the current limit of $2,500 per month.

Currently, Tricare’s ECHO limit on autistic care allows only five hours of therapy per week, while studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Research Council show that these youth need from 25-40 hours per week.

This amendment also requires a study by the Secretary of Defense that examines ways to improve autistic services.

Find out how to track the progress of this bill as it continues to move through Congress on the Military Children with Autism page.

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Free Summer Camp for Military Kids

Ready for some summer fun - swimming, canoeing, rock climbing, archery, fishing, horseback riding, sports? Want to meet other military kids, make new friends, and good memories?

Many camps begin registration in early spring and fill up quickly. Contact programs in your state now to find out if space is still available. If the camp is full, plan for next year now and register early to secure a space.

Below, we've highlighted two great summer camp programs for military kids. You'll find more summer camp information at Youth Programs and Summer Camps for Military Kids.

Operation Military Kids has partnered with National 4-H Clubs, state universities, Boys and Girls Clubs, Cooperative Extension Services, and YMCAs to offer free summer camps to military kids in most states. Go to Operation Military Kids and click on your state to find programs available in your area.

Operation Purple Summer campOperation Purple offers a free week of camping for military kids whose parents have been, or are currently deployed. Campers from all branches of service experience a week of fun and adventure at camp, while also learning skills to cope with the parent's deployment.

To arrange for accommodations for children with special needs, please contact the camp in your state.

For more information and resources about summer planning and camps go to Youth Programs and Summer Camps for Military Kids.

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