DMAG touched a nerve.

DMAG touched a nerve.

The first meeting of the Delaware Military Awareness Group drew 15 to 20 people, co-founder Kim Crouch said.

Twice that many showed up for the second meeting. What's more, Crouch began to hear from interested people as far away as Marion and Licking County and from Delaware military members in Florida, Texas, Ecuador and Germany. A local veterans organization promised support. A motorcycle club volunteered to help welcome troops home. An area band offered to play - free of charge - for any DMAG event, any time.

"All these groups in Delaware County are coming together for (DMAG)," Crouch said.

DMAG is a support group for Delaware County men and women on active duty in the military and for their families here at home. No such group existed and it was sorely needed, Crouch, who has two sons in the military, told ThisWeek.

"I had nobody to reach out to, nobody to talk to, nowhere to go," she said.

She was feeling fragile one day when she ran into DMAG co-founder Carolyn Riggle - so fragile that she broke down and wept, Crouch said. She was concerned about her sons' safety, she said, and she also had money worries. Troops who come home on leave are flown to their bases in the United States, she said, but they must pay their own way home.
"So that was weighing on my mind," she said.

Riggle, a Delaware City Council member, said Crouch's plight was immediately obvious.

"She doesn't have anybody to talk to," she said she thought. "We need to start something. Get them together so they know they're not in this alone."

The "something" is DMAG, which Riggle and Crouch see as both a support group for families at home and as an organization that offers local military members financial assistance, provides a crowd at the airport for returning troops, throws welcome home parties, sends care packages, and ensures that local military families are remembered during holidays.

Riggle said the organization is open not only to those with loved ones in the military but also to those who want to support those with loved ones in the military. "I'm in this (second) group," she said.

DMAG's third meeting on Aug. 26 was held at the Hills-Miller Road facility of the Delaware chapter of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross recently received a grant to strengthen its outreach to local military families, executive director Tracey Wilson said. DMAG was formed at almost the same time, and partnering with the new organization for some events seemed a no-brainer.

For starters, Wilson said, the Red Cross has made its facility available for DMAG meetings.

Another piece of good news for the nascent organization: Carriage Towne Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Delaware donated $1,000.

Crouch and Riggle both credit DMAG's Facebook page with helping to spread the news. It had more than 700 friends as of Aug. 24, about a month after the group was formed.

Crouch has designed a DMAG flag, which the group hopes will be both a fundraiser and a unifying symbol. DMAG members attended Jeff's Jam and a local poker run to publicize their cause. They also have a booth reserved at the Delaware County Fair in September. Everywhere they go, Riggle said, they hear, "Oh! What a great idea! How can I help?"

"What we want to do is be the go-to person," Riggle said.

Crouch said she assures all military families that DMAG will offer both practical help and emotional support.

For more information about DMAG, e-mail, visit its Facebook page at Delaware DMAG, or call Crouch at (740) 815-0046 or Riggle at (740) 815-5876.