Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jack Daniel’s/USO “Toast to the Troops” Event Honoring Troops and Their Families to Be Held at Bristol Race

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Tennessee National Guard service members and their spouses, members of the NASCAR community, USO volunteers and Jack Daniel’s employees will assemble 10,000 USO care packages at Earhart Campground East adjacent to Bristol Motor Speedway as part of the Jack Daniel’s/USO “Toast to the Troops” program.

The event will be held prior to the Sharpie 500 race at Bristol on Aug. 22, and is the 11th stuffing party since Toast to the Troops was launched in 2005. Through Toast to the Troops, Jack Daniel’s collects personal messages of support, or “toasts,” to include in USO care packages.

Following the care package stuffing party, ten-year Army veteran and country music star Craig Morgan will perform a free concert for all volunteers and fans attending the race.

“Since this program began, we’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand the great sacrifices that our friends serving in the military, as well as their spouses and families on the home front, make for our country,” said Tim Rutledge, Brand Director Americas for Jack Daniel’s.

Rutledge said this “Toast” event would be very special since a majority of the volunteers would be members and spouses of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment of the Tennessee National Guard that is being redeployed to the Middle East later this year. “We’re humbled and honored that these heroes will be joining us in Bristol, and we look forward to spending a wonderful day with them and recognizing their many contributions to our country,” he added.

“It is a privilege to be a part of such a worthy event,” said Lt. Colonel James Blevins, Squadron Commander of the 278th. “Our soldiers and families are looking forward to participating in ‘Toast to the Troops,’ knowing the care packages are being sent to our military brothers and sisters serving in harm’s way.”

Citizens can go to to fill out the special “toasts” that will be included in USO care packages for troops deploying to Afghanistan, Iraq and other overseas locations, as well as troops arriving and departing on rest and recuperation (R&R) flights. The care packages, sponsored for $25 each, include approximately $75 worth of items requested by service members, such as prepaid international calling cards, toiletries, sunscreen, playing cards, disposable cameras and snacks.

“We thank Jack Daniel’s for their continued support,” said Elaine Rogers, administrator of the Operation USO Care Package program. “Since 2005, these events have been an excellent opportunity for local communities to demonstrate their support for our men and women in uniform and their families.”

Craig Morgan has been a part of every Jack Daniel’s/USO Toast to the Troops event and fulfilled a lifelong dream last September when he was invited to join the Grand Old Opry at a Toast event at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he was stationed from 1990-1992. Morgan has entertained troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and is a recipient of the USO Merit Award, an honor shared by the late Bob Hope.

“It has been an honor and privilege for me to perform for our military service members and their families, and the Toast to the Troops program is one way of letting them know how much we love, respect and appreciate everything they do for us,” said Morgan. “Their sacrifices, both abroad and on the home front, cannot be measured, and we all owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.”

BNA Records recording artist Morgan has made a name for himself with massive radio airplay of his signature hits. Morgan’s current album That’s Why features the hit single “Love Remembers” and his current single, “Bonfire.” The new releases follow his Top 10 hit and fan-favorite, “International Harvester.” Other Top 10 hits include “Little Bit of Life,” “Tough,” “Almost Home,” “Redneck Yacht Club,” and “That’s What I Love About Sunday” – which spent five weeks at No. 1 and was Billboard’s Most Played Country Song of the Year in 2005.

Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing, will be on hand to take part in the program. Childress owns and operates Richard Childress Racing and fields four Chevrolets in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, including the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Impala SS driven by Casey Mears.

“It’s an honor for RCR to be involved in the ‘Toast to the Troops’ program with Jack Daniel’s and the USO,” said Childress. “I’ve seen first-hand the efforts of the National Guard and other branches of the military in Iraq and I couldn’t be more proud to be an American knowing that those brave men and women are protecting us. The folks at Jack Daniel’s show their patriotism in so many ways and teaming up with the USO for the ‘Toast to the Troops’ program is the continuation of that great tradition.”

Due to heightened security, individuals can no longer send letters and packages addressed to “Any Service Member.” The Operation USO Care Package program is the best way to send a message of encouragement directly to a service member and provide a touch of home. The USO has distributed more than 1.5 million care packages since the program’s inception in 2003. More information on the Operation USO Care Package program and other USO programs can be found at

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