CONYERS -- For a weekend, four local servicemen can trade in the Afghanistan countryside for the attractions of Stone Mountain Park thanks to American Legion Post 77 in Conyers and local Masonic lodges.
The servicemen are members of the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Brigade Combat Team, which recently completed its mission to train the Afghan Army and Afghan National Security Force to fight the Taliban.
Sgt. Dee Burdette, Sgt. Daniel Knaar, Sgt. Jared Callaway and Sgt. Ronnie Brooks received two nights stay at the Evergreen Inn in Stone Mountain along with tickets to events and food.
The award recipients were chosen from 12 returning local serviceman of the 48th Brigade. Benny Stephenson, honor guard captain at Post 77, said the Legion partnered with the Philogia Masonic Lodge No. 178 in Conyers and the Dewald Masonic Lodge No. 343 in Rutledge to do something to say thanks to the local soldiers of the 48th.
"We're just wanting to put a focus on saying thanks for their service as they return home," Stephenson said. "The more people around here who are focused on their return the better. You want to have something for them to come home and get a pat on the back."
The Legion recognized service personnel in recent years by providing calling cards to members in Georgia's 121st Infantry. Last year, they purchased 29,000 calling minutes for service personnel overseas.
The Legion chose to do a random drawing among local service personnel for the weekend package. The Masonic lodges offered to help support the recognition awards this year.
"We wanted to do something, and thought a weekend at Stone Mountain with their family would do them some good," he said. "If we had the funds, we would do more."
The Legion also maintains a year-round veterans assistance fund to help service personnel and their families in temporarily finance issues like covering an electricity bill or helping out with groceries.
For more information about the American Legion, Post 77, call 770-483-8216, or visit www.americanlegionpost77.org