In Feb. 2005, President Bush visited U.S. troops stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany and thanked them for “serving our great land.”
But that gratitude extends only so far. Those U.S. troops in Wiesbaden — and others stationed in Europe — will no longer receive welcome-home celebrations from the U.S. military. Stars and Stripes reports that the U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) is cutting troop celebrations in an effort to save money:
In response to continuing financial strains, U.S. Army Europe has canceled all welcome home celebrations for units returning from deployment through this fiscal year, halting the tradition of free food, rides and other community festivities for returning soldiers and their families.
While USAREUR cited cost-saving reasons for its decision to cut the celebrations, it was “unable to say how much the command would save by canceling the events, or what a celebration typically costs.” One of the largest units to be affected by the decision will be the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Brigade, based in Friedberg, Germany. It has been in Iraq since Jan. 2006, and was supposed to come home in January, but had its deployment extended by six weeks.
As Fred Steube, a Vietnam veteran and organizer of a May 2005 welcome-home celebration for Arkansas National Guard and Reserve members, noted, these celebrations are a way “to give these troops the welcome home we never got. … This celebration is the least we could do to express our gratitude.”