Emotional send-off for 336th Financial Management Command

By By Natalie Stewart / American Press

“The strength of a nation is in its

Army; the strength of an Army is in its soldiers, and the strength of

its soldiers is

in their families,” Col. Robert Craft said Wednesday

during a farewell ceremony.

The ceremony was a send-off for troops in the 336th Financial Management Command. The unit of 38 soldiers is being deployed

to Afghanistan for nine months.

“I’m proud and humbled to lead this team of soldiers; we have a really strong team,” Craft said. “These families are loaning

me their soldiers for the next (nine) months and I appreciate the support for the soldiers.”

More than 100 people attended the event, which Craft described as a time full of “mixed emotions.”

“We’re sad to leave our families, but we’re excited because we get to go practice the skill set that we’ve trained so hard

for,” he said.

Mayor Randy Roach declared April 10, 2013 as 336th Financial Management Support Center Day in Lake Charles.

“We appreciate your service and your sacrifice for our nation,” Roach told the men and women in uniform. “Words cannot express

what we feel in terms of our gratitude.”

Roach also thanked family members for their sacrifices.

“Words cannot express how we feel and how much appreciation and respect we have for you as members of the family,” he said

to the audience. “We know that your sacrifice is as great as anyone else.”

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury also issued a proclamation to the unit.

“(These ceremonies) show the soldiers the support that the community has for them,” Craft said. “It’s an opportunity for the

community to show their thanks and recognize the soldiers, and it keeps our service visible to the community. It benefits

both the soldiers and the community.”

Col. Andre Sanders said the ceremonies also make the public aware of the unit’s existence.

“It makes (the community) aware; a lot

of locals don’t even know that the unit is even here,” he said. “People

are shocked

when they hear that we’re deployed more than active duty units

like us. It just goes to show how important the reserve component

is also.”

Craft said since Sept. 11, 2001, the unit has been the most deployed of its type in the Army.

“We’ve always answered our nation’s call,” he added.

Lt. Col. Davien Heyward said the ceremony is more to bring families together to support each other while soldiers are deployed.

“It’s a way to bring family members

together to show them that they’re not alone during this time when

they’re away from their

families,” he said. “It’s also to build a support system for

families. They see other family members and build bonds. I think

that’s the most important reason for these ceremonies. It’s not

for us soldiers, it’s really for families to show their support

for one another and for us to show our appreciation for them.”