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In Fort Bragg visit, Bush will honor a homefront volunteer

Posted May 21, 2008

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— President Bush on Thursday plans to attend All American Week events at Fort Bragg, home of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division.

  • Log on to WRAL.com at 11 a.m. Thursday for live coverage of President Bush's speech at Fort Bragg.

Among the items on the president's itinerary is recognition for a special volunteer: Amy Petrenko.

“I just look around and see if there's anything that needs to be done, and if I can fit it into my schedule, then I would try to get it in my schedule,” Petrenko said.

At Fort Bragg and other duty stations, Petrenko volunteers with the National Military Family Association. She has been doing it for 11 years.

As a volunteer with that organization, Petrenko does most of her volunteer work when soldiers are deployed.

Her duties include helping spouses network and find resources for themselves and their children.

As a mother of two and a military spouse for 19 years, she said she is just carrying on an age-old tradition among military wives.

“I had wonderful senior ladies coming up to me who had been through this and knew that you have to see what you can do and try to make a difference,” she said.

When Petrenko found out she would receive special recognition from President Bush, she was almost speechless.

“I thought, 'Wow! I can't believe I've been honored with this award,'” she added.

And true to her nature of giving, Petrenko doesn't take all the credit.

“I'm honored to represent the military spouses who volunteer. I'm trying to figure out what to say to him. I don't know,” she said.

Petrenko is married to Col. Victor Petrenko, chief of staff of the 82nd. She also volunteers with the Child Advocacy Center of Cumberland County and sits on the Military Affairs Council.

The celebration of All American Week this year marks a return to something like normal at the giant base. Last year, it was canceled last year because the entire division was fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The celebration also provides a balm this year, which follows a particularly tough one for the division. The 82nd lost 87 paratroopers in 2007. About 150 members of "Gold Star" families, relatives of those killed, are to join President Bush for the division's review ceremony and a re-dedication of a growing granite memorial to the 82nd's fallen.

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