Happy Mother’s Day to All

Story and Photos by Spc. John D. Ortiz
4th Sus. Bde Public Affairs

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Mothers of deployed servicemembers all over the world now have a reason to celebrate; they can see their sons and daughters on television wishing them a happy Mother’s Day.

The 4th Sustainment Brigade’s Public Affairs team, part of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) from Fort Hood, provided a venue for Soldiers and Airmen to broadcast their love and wishes to their moms, wives, and significant others.

Sgt. 1st Class Erick Ritterby, a native of Phoenix, Ariz., and the chief of Public Affairs for the brigade, spearheaded the effort.

“I feel I’m providing a great service to the Soldiers of the 4th Sus Bde by helping them deliver greetings back home to their loved ones,” he said. “It might be a small part, but it’s a part. At the end of the day, if one of those greetings play on TV back home and a mother, wife or significant other sees it, it has all been worth it.”

Recording greetings and sending them back home isn’t a new idea. The armed services have given servicemembers overseas a chance to send greetings home for the past 24 years.

Yet the 4th Sus Bde is doing something new and improved.

“The idea to do shout-outs is something the last public affairs group did. The idea was passed on to us while conducting the transition to take over the PA mission in Kuwait,” said Ritterby.

“The last group had success, especially during major holidays, but the 4th Sus Bde PA is taking it one step further by focusing on smaller holidays and exposing the units’ Soldiers and Airmen to more local TV stations,” said Ritterby.

“Saying a greeting brings me closer to my mom and gives her peace of mind,” said Sgt. Sheila Rivera, an administrative sergeant under the 4th Sus Bde. “It allows my mom to see me and see that I’m doing ok,” said Rivera, a member with Joint Logistics Task Force 28 from Manheim, Germany.

“I think it’s great,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Benoit, the commander of JLTF 28,”its important for Soldiers to communicate with their families, it gives them something to talk about when their loved ones tell them they saw their [servicemember] on TV.”

“It feels good to be able to send a shout-out to my mom,” said Spc. Keith Mravlja, a native of Plythe, Ga., and a signal support systems specialist with the 4th Sus Bde, “I didn’t expect to be able to do [a greeting] while deployed.” “I’m glad I did it, because it’s a surprise gift for my mom and really, it’s just another way for them to see me and for me to communicate with my parents.” 

The 4th Sus Bde’s unique mission of supplying the war fight in the Central Command Area of Operations, allows all services to participate in this unique way of reaching back home to their family.

“I’ve never done this before,” said Airmen 1st Class Jose Sanchez, a native of Freemont, Calif., with the 60th Security Squadron from Travis Air Force Base, “I was nervous but I wanted my mother to see my face, to show her that I’m doing ok.”

“This is a first for us. The 4th Sus Bde has never had a PA section quite like it has right now, and it has never had the capability to reach the amount of Americans back home that [the 4 Sus Bde] can reach now through shout-outs and through Dept. of Defense marketing efforts,” said Ritterby.

“The public affairs capability used to end at the internal audience, but now [4th Sus Bde PA] has the capability to reach any audience worldwide, especially back home in America,” he said.

“When a family sees the servicemember on TV, it’s a huge morale boost for the family and especially the [servicemember]because he knows now that he can do more than just call, it’s good for the American populace to see the servicemember in a positive light,” said Ritterby. 

“It helps PA promote and support the armed services,” he said. “When the American public sees our Soldiers and Airmen doing greetings, it’s nothing but good things for the 4th Sus Bde and the Army.”