MT. VERNON, IL (KFVS) - Talk about the war in Afghanistan has died down, but the battle there still wages on. What better way to honor our active military members this veterans day then to show them love from thousands of miles away. For one Jefferson County group, that comes in the form of a gift card for Christmas.
For soldiers from southern Illinois, the sands of Afghanistan are a far cry from home.
"You don't hear about Afghanistan on the news as much," explains David Keen. "But there's still an active battle going on and also some casualties and so its still a very dangerous situation."
And for some, even the smallest reminder of home is priceless.
"Its comforting to know that people are thinking about you," said 2005 gift card recipient, Jody Reynolds.
Reynolds, from Waltonville, received a $150 gift card from the Jefferson County Operation Iraqi Freedom Team.
Reynolds says he used his to surprise his wife and baby daughter. "I used it to buy a couple Christmas gifts on the sly so my wife didn't know what i was getting, and then i shipped them back," he said.
This year the JCOIF team plans to send 15 warriors $800 tax free PX gift cards a piece.
"At Christmas time, they don't know a cards coming. They open it up and they're just totally surprised," Keen said.
According to National Guard recruiter First Sergeant Joe Brown, sometimes that money can make all the difference.
"That could mean the difference of a house payment, or gear that the military doesn't provide, more comfortable boots, something that they want at that time," said 1st Sgt. Brown.
And the team says, knowing their county is making an impact like that from an ocean away is gratitude enough. But, as Keen points out, the Thank You letters sure do fill the heart.
"He showed it to his battle buddy and his buddy was joking, 'Maybe Jefferson County can adopt me.,'" said 1st Sgt. Brown.
If you know someone from Jefferson County currently serving in Afghanistan and you'd like to give their name to the Jefferson County Operation Iraqi Freedom Team, you can call David Keen at 618-316-9502 or go to
page and submit their name.