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Veteran group driving more than 7,000 miles passes through Caldwell

Task Force Tribute visited the Idaho Veteran's Garden in Caldwell, Monday, August 29. Photos by Josh Hemmert.{ }
Task Force Tribute visited the Idaho Veteran's Garden in Caldwell, Monday, August 29. Photos by Josh Hemmert.
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Task Force Tribute, an initiative from non-profit Project Relo, is traveling across the country to pay respects to U.S. service members lost in combat since 9/11. Along the way, they’re visiting veterans to create helpful, learning opportunities.

The initiative stems back from Project Relo’s original mission. Project Relo has sought to improve the quality and career opportunities for veterans and those preparing to leave military service. They do this by putting corporate executives in military settings so that they can learn leadership and better understand the work service members do.

This, in turn, unlocks career opportunities for military personnel preparing to join the civilian workforce, and for veterans that are looking for jobs.

For much of 2021 and 2021, Project Relo could not train executives due to COVID-19 closures, but something that occurred during that time sent the project in a new direction.

On August 26, 2021, 13 U.S. service members lost their lives in a bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The news hit hard with many Americans, especially in the military community. According to Christian Anschuetz, the Chairman of Project Relo, it motivated some within Project Relo.

"Some of our Project Relo members, along with other veterans, organized a silent ruck around the city of Chicago,” Anschuetz said. “They didn't tell the media, they didn't make a big deal about it, but they told two friends, and those two friends told two more friends until there were hundreds and then thousands of people involved in this 13-mile walk."

After the silent ruck, the team at Project Relo pondered its next steps and came up with Task Force Tribute.

"We said, what else we can do,” Anschuetz said. “And we said, if we did that for thirteen, why can't we do that for the other 7,000 plus military members that have lost their lives during the global war on terror, and that gave birth to Task Force Tribute."

Task Force Tribute is traveling more than 7,000 miles across the country, traveling a mile for each service member lost.

They stopped in Caldwell, Idaho, Monday, August 29, at the Idaho Veterans Garden. Mitzi Cheldelin, the Community Resource Coordinator for the Idaho Division of Veterans Services, helped bring Task Force Tribute to the garden. She said that Task Force Tribute had a productive, enjoyable conversation with several veterans.

"We were able to have a nice conversation with about 15 people over here,” Cheldelin said. “Some of the veterans ushered their service, (and) we had a lot of women veterans out here this morning."

Task Force Tribute also paid respects to Idaho veterans who have lost their lives, one being Army Specialist Carrie French. French was the first female soldier from Idaho killed in Iraq.

For French's friend Marisa McCarter, who served with her in the same conflict, Task Force Tribute was a welcome visitor.

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"When she (Mitzi Cheldelin) talked about Task Force Tribute coming through, it was a match made in heaven, because they're bringing attention to all these organizations, they're giving veterans a chance to tell their story,” McCarter said. It was just perfect."

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