Whether they've been in Afghanistan for months or in West Africa or Iraq for a few weeks, troops will have plenty of turkey, cranberry sauce and other fixings on their plates for Thanksgiving Day.
About a ton of turkey and 300 pounds of cranberry sauce are among the items on the menu for troops in Liberia supporting the Ebola mission.
"Being away from home during the holidays is tough enough without considering the difficult and dangerous conditions our servicemen and women face. Since they can't be home for the holidays our employees are dedicated to bringing the holidays to them," said Bill Addison, a spokesman for Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.
Planning and ordering Thanksgiving meals to deployed troops normally starts in the spring.
"Contingency operations like our efforts in Iraq, Liberia and Senegal don't typically give us the usual lead time to ensure we can get holiday meals in place. But we recognized early on that these operations would most likely extend into the holidays and began checking how we could support the holiday meal requirements," Addison said.
With that foresight, he said, "our deployed forces will be getting turkey for Thanksgiving."
DLA has an active contractor that can support the holiday meal requirements in Iraq and the surrounding area, an established presence that allows more flexibility for meal choices, Addison said.
For Thanksgiving 2009, some 467,499 pounds of turkey went to the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones. This year, 78,166 pounds of turkey has arrived in those locations.
But the situation is different in Liberia and Senegal, where the U.S. presence is not as established, Addison said.
Thanksgiving meals for troops in Liberia and Senegal had to go airlift. Because dining facilities have not been set up, most of what troops have been seeing is rations, boosted by fresh bread and milk and other items.
The turkey will be prepared on site for the troops.
Examples of what's been sent:
Turkey: 2,000 lbs.
Cranberry sauce: 300 lbs.
Pies: 500 (apple, cherry, pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato)
Turkey: 600 pounds
Cranberry sauce: 75 pounds
Pies: 200 (apple, cherry, pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato)
Turkey: 48,982 pounds
Beef: 8,750 pounds
Ham: 4,560 pounds
Shrimp: 6,048 pounds
Eggnog: 900 gallons
Turkey: 29,184 pounds
Beef: 31,920 pounds
Ham: 21,660 pounds
Shrimp: 25,650 pounds
Eggnog: 840 gallons
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.