From the moment palm, wine, Jewish ceremonial Seder kits and ashes leave vendors’ warehousing, until these religious items get to military customers, Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support customer account specialists manually track them for on-time delivery.
DLA Troop Support’s Clothing and Textiles supply chain received approximately 115 orders for Easter and Passover items in support of customers across the country and around the globe, Chris Gaudio, lead CAS for ecclesiastical support, said.
“This is 100 percent morale for service members to be able to practice their religion no matter where they are in the world,” Gaudio said. “And it makes us feel good too, that they received the items and had a great ceremony.”
More than 40,000 customers are contacted in December with ordering instructions and timelines to receive ecclesiastical items in time for the start of Passover, March 30 and Easter, April 1, Paul Diak, C&T supervisory customer account specialist, said.
Diak and his team work with DLA Distribution to get the items to logistically challenging locations, including the Middle East and Navy ships. Diak and Gaudio also took a trip to Distribution’s headquarters in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania prior to Palm Sunday.to physically check orders of palm being sent outside the continental U.S.
In addition to C&T’s religious support, the Subsistence supply chain also provided approximately 925 cases of Kosher for Passover Meals, Ready-to-Eat, with 12 meals in each case, including chicken, beef, salmon and gefilte fish menus.
“The purpose of this ration is to feed those individuals in the military service who maintain a Kosher for Passover diet by providing three meals per day for not more than eight days during their observance of Passover,” Joseph Zanolle, a rations CAS in Subsistence, said. “Like the [standard] Meals, Ready-to-Eat, it is a totally self-contained meal combined in one single flexible meal bag.”
Subsistence also provided approximately 20,000 pounds of salmon, 33,000pounds of shrimp, and 63,000 pounds of pork for service members in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Jordan for Easter.
After receiving religious items for Easter and Passover last year, Air Force Senior Airman Fernando Cortez, then stationed at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar as a contracting officer, shared his thanks with C&T’s ecclesiastical team.
“I cannot thank you and your team enough for expediting and working this requirement so diligently,” Cortez said. “This particular purchase has been very meaningful to me. My faith plays a huge role in my life and being able to help facilitate our fellow brothers and sisters in arms in the practicing of their faith, though different from mine, has been incredibly fulfilling.
“Being deployed, you miss a lot of things back home, especially around the holidays, so being able to make this happen [and] bringing a little piece of home is huge and greatly appreciated.”
To ensure continued support of these annual religious holidays, C&T, Subsistence and Distribution participate in an after action meeting with DLA’s Chaplain Army Col. Carleton Birch.