The Strength Behind the Strong website. Proudly supporting our friends and family in the U.S. military, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.


The Strength Behind The Strong was founded by Christine Hofmann-Bourque, who is proud to have a husband in the Army, three brothers in the Navy and Army, and a sister-in-law in the Army. Christine is also a professional journalist. Read our first post to find out why this website is so close to her heart. More >>

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Jessica’s parents ask our military community: Will you send this Army wife a card for her Easter Basket of Cheer?

If you need a reminder about the healing power of a kind word — or the many caring people who support our military families — look no further than the blog of Jessica, who writes at {Mis}Adventures of an Army Spouse. Hundreds of military spouses, friends, and strangers left notes of support this week for Jessica, who posted her suicide note this past Monday. Thankfully, Jessica is alive and getting treatment. Yesterday, all of us who left comments for Jessica on her blog received an email from her parents. They’re rallying the community to send old-fashioned snail mail to Jessica for Easter. Here is their email: 

Tom and I want to thank all of you for the kind words you have posted on Jessica’s blog.  Jessica is currently in the hospital for an unknown length of stay and will require continued therapy afterwards.  I was able to visit with her for about 1 1/2 hours on Thursday, 14 April, and she is starting to realize her actions last week as well as the events that led to her depression and suicide attempt.  I did print out all your comments from her blog and was able to give her a hardcopy.
One of Jessica’s friends had a great idea that Tom and I are following up Easter Basket filled with notes and cards of encouragement, empathy, stories, understanding or good ole humor!  If we could be so bold to the virtual community, we would like to ask you to send your thoughts, notes, cards, etc. to the P.O. Box below that we have now established:
P.O. Box 292138
Columbia, SC  29229
I will gather them into an Easter Basket of Cheer for Jessica this week to continue to let her know she is not alone nor are the events she experienced isolated to just her. 
Please do not send gifts or money....just your words of encouragement and prayers.
Please let the word spread.....
Thanks again to all you,
 --  From the parents of Jessica....Tom in NM and now Sue in SC

While you’re helping the Easter Bunny get ready for his big day this Sunday, keep a good thought for Jessica and her family. Please forward this posting to spread the word. 




Update: Farewell to Operation Helmetliner

After we profiled Operation Helmetliner in February (“Enlisting All Knitters: Help keep a soldier warm in Afghanistan”), many of our readers stepped up to help. Last week, Citizen S.A.M. — which runs Operation Helmetliner — announced that it is ending its program. Why? The U.S. military is now issuing its own helmet liners.

The Citizen S.A.M. newsletter explains:

As we gear up for Operation Santa, we say goodbye to a wonderful program, Operation Helmetliner. …

[The military] will no longer be allowed to accept the liners you have so lovingly made. 

If anyone has any completed liners ready to send to us, please do so quickly. [Citizen S.A.M.] will be allowed to ship completed liners until November 1st. These will be distributed by the military as goodwill gestures from the soldiers to the local population. …  After November 1st, we can no longer ship them.

Thank you all for your awesome support of this very wonderful project over the past 5 years. Please use your skills and talents, care and love in other ways to support our troops.

For more information, visit And keep checking back with us at, where we will bring you more ways to support our troops.

Additional information as of August 17, 2010: Citizen S.A.M. will continue to accept handmade wool scarves. It is the helmet liners, neck gaiters, and stocking caps that it will no longer be allowed to ship to our troops after November 1, 2010.

Screenshot of Citizen S.A.M. website. From


UPDATE! Enlisting All Knitters: Help keep a soldier warm in Afghanistan

July 27, 2010: Please note that Operation Helmetliner will be ending in November 2010. For details, read our post “Update: Farewell to Operation Helmetliner.”

Wow! We continue to receive great feedback on our February story “Enlisting All Knitters: Help keep a soldier warm in Afghanistan,” and we know many of our readers already have picked up their knitting needles to help. In the last few days, we’ve received several requests for direct links to all of the knitting patterns for Operation Helmetliner, which is a service project run by Citizen S.A.M. Your wish is our command! You’ll find the direct links, below, to patterns for helmet liners, scarves, and neck gators. 

  1. Helmetliner Knitting Instructions
  2. Helmetliner Pattern for Bulky Knitting Machine 
  3. Helmetliner Pattern for Standard Gauge Machine
  4. Scarves for Troops Knitting and Crocheting Instructions
  5. Knitted Neck Gaiters

 Happy knitting!

Screenshot of the front page of the Citizen S.A.M website. (Citizen Support for America's Military). From Helmetliner, a project of Citizen S.A.M., has sent more than 24,000 hand-knit helmet liners to troops overseas.