In this issue:
  News You Can Use
Organization Spotlight
This Month's Focus
Family Support
Money & More
Mission Critical
Veterans Corner
Book Club
Military Family Network™ News   ·   December, 2009 


It's the Holiday Season... I can't hear that phrase without hearing Andy Williams singing it in my head. I grew up hearing that album at Christmas every year - it was one of my mom's favorites. It was such a tradition that I went out and found a copy of it, on CD of course, and now play it every year, particularly when my daughter and I are decorating the house. It is now one of our traditions.

Traditions are a very important part of the holidays, especially family traditions. Let's all keep in mind that for many of our nation's military families and service members, these traditions can be interrupted by deployments and separations, or even the tragic loss of a loved one. Because holiday family traditions are so important, the absence of a family member is often even more difficult during this time.

We can all start a new tradition of doing one small thing for a military family or service member during the holiday season. Send a card to a service member. Offer to watch the kids for your neighbor, the military mom, so she can do some shopping. Donate to a Veteran's organization. Let our military families know they are appreciated. And, if you are fortunate enough to have your family close for the holidays, be sure to appreciate that.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season, and let's look forward to a great New Year! Be sure to see This Month's Focus for more holiday info.

Until Next Month Year (or you can email us at if you just can’t wait!),

Megan, Luis and Darrell


Commander, chaplain talk about holiday stress

The holiday season is almost upon us and some deployed Airmen may find themselves wrestling with a combination of stressors during the 40 or so days between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Read More...

Sending Packages to Iran and Afghanistan

Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and other remote posts report that Mail Call is often the highlight of their day and a break in the routine. Here are some tips and thoughts that will brighten a Soldier's day and let them know that the folks back home are thinking of them. Holiday packages are popular and much anticipated and here are some tips for shipping packages to a deployed Soldier this holiday season. Read More...

Year of the Air Force Family T-shirt Design Competition Under Way

The Air Force Services Agency is promoting a T-shirt design competition on the recently launched, now through Dec. 20, as part of the Year of the Air Force Family. Read More about how to submit your design...

Estate Planning: Keep Track of Password-Protected Online Accounts

Recently, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a feature concerned with password-protected online accounts and a legal fight concerning Yahoo! triggered by a father who wanted to obtain copies of his son’s emails after his soldier-son perished in Iraq. It seems that many online privacy policies allow access only by the owners of these accounts. Of course, the article continued to discuss the transfer of assets to heirs – in particular digital assets – and the challenges that can follow upon death of the owner. With increased web usage including online banking, financial accounts, shopping and social networking, it makes sense to keep a few things in mind:

  • Review online privacy policies to become informed;

  • Keep track of your password-protected accounts and safely record your passcodes;
  • Let your next of kin know your wishes and where to locate your personal information;
  • Include your digital assets in your readiness discussions with Legal Assistance

(Grant, T. “Digital Life.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 13 November 2009.)



How to Tell if You Have a Cold or the Flu
Source: Federal Citizen Information Center

It’s that time of year again: hacking cough, drippy nose and a fever. How do you know if that tickle in the back of your throat is the symptom of a cold or a sign that you’re about to come down with the flu? And is it the seasonal flu or the H1N1 flu? Read More...

New TRICARE Video Counseling Can Help Military Families See "Eye-to-Eye" with Their Problems

From deployment worries to strained relationships to dealing with a tragedy, TRICARE is testing a new video counseling service to help military members and families see “eye-to-eye” with their problems. The TRICARE Assistance Program (TRIAP) is just one of several ways to get convenient, confidential help through a licensed behavioral health counselor. Read More...



Don’t Get Stranded this Holiday Season – Check Out Travelers Aid International

Travelers Aid International is the association for Travelers Aid agencies and programs in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, and Australia. Travelers Aid served more than 6.5 million people last year in forty-eight communities, and at thirty-six transportation centers (airports, bus and train stations). Travelers Aid also provided casework services to 200,000 (including homeless persons, and individuals and families in crisis). Each member of the Network is independently managed and provides programs and services that meet the needs of its community.

Learn more about this essential organization by visiting .

Boarding Gate Good-bye Still Best Way to Send Off Your Military Loved One

Did you know that Family members who want to accompany a military service member being deployed to the boarding gate or greet them returning from deployment at the arrival gate may receive passes to enter the secure area of the airport?

Interested military family members should contact their air carrier representative at the departure/arrival airport for proper local procedures to obtain Military Family Member Gate Passes.




Remember Pearl Harbor - December 7, 1942

When is Holiday Partying NOT a party?
Source: National Institute of Health

Do you enjoy a drink now and then? Many of us do, often when socializing with friends and family. Drinking can be beneficial or harmful, depending on your age and health status, and, of course, how much you drink.

Many drinkers may be unaware that their drinking habits are putting them at risk for alcohol-related problems. Some may already have symptoms of an alcohol use disorder without recognizing them. Others may know that their drinking is causing problems, but don't know where to turn for help in cutting back or quitting. Rethinking Drinking provides evidence-based information for all of these people, along with support for making a change.

For anyone who drinks, this site offers valuable, research-based information. What do you think about taking a look at your drinking habits and how they may affect your health? Read More: or let Rethinking Drinking help you get started.

About: The Rethinking Drinking Web site and booklet have been produced by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIAAA is the lead U.S. agency supporting research on the causes, consequences, prevention, and treatment of alcohol-related problems. The content of Rethinking Drinking draws largely from the results of major NIAAA population studies and clinical trials.

Play it Again, Dot Mil Docs!

You are probably recognizing Dot Mil Docs as a “regular” in MFN’s newsletter. That’s because each month, we try to highlight an episode that we believe might be useful to you. This month, MFN showcases Psychotherapy and the VA. This episode is a discussion about evidence-based psychotherapy and how this form of “talk-based therapy” can be applied specifically to mental health conditions. So, check it out and while you are there, take a few minutes to look around. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the information that is available and amazed by what you can learn in a few short minutes.

About: Dot Mil Docs is the product of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Military Health System and is the official podcast of the Military Health System. America’s Military Health System (MHS) is a unique partnership of medical educators, medical researchers, and healthcare providers and their support personnel worldwide. This DoD enterprise consists of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs; the medical departments of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Combatant Command surgeons; and TRICARE providers (including private sector healthcare providers, hospitals and pharmacies). On DotMilDocs, military doctors and health care experts discuss a new topic each week. You can find more information here or the main web page for MHS at

VA.Gov Launches First Step of Web Site Redesign

On Veterans Day, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rolled out the first phase of a large-scale Web renovation to better serve America’s Veterans. This first and most visible step of the renovation consists of changing the Web site’s look, making it easier for Veterans and their families to navigate and to find the information they are looking for. Read More...

VA and DoD Announce Disability Evaluation System Pilot Expansion

To expedite the delivery of benefits to many injured servicemembers who receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department announced the expansion of a program with the Department of Defense (DoD) to streamline the application process for people retiring or exiting the military due to disabilities. Read More...



Daddy’s on A Chip

Being married to a Navy SEAL requires that you lead a certain lifestyle; moving to places you might not have chosen, meeting people you may never have met otherwise, and finding things in yourself that you didn’t know were there. I have been a part of this Navy wife lifestyle for 11 years and during that time starting a family and other changes have facilitated the need for coping strategies, compromise, and prioritizing.

I am not what you would call an over-reactive personality. I am rarely unsure of myself, I am decisive and practical and when there is a problem I react appropriately; no freaking out allowed. I handle what needs to be handled and the stress will work itself out later at the gym or in a nightmare.

My kids seem quite clear in their purpose of teaching their mom how to play and my husband is the leader of their little band and between them their efforts have helped me grow a sense of humor and taught me how to take a minute to be a ridiculous dork. I have relented to their wisdom in that these things are truly important, not to just the kids, but for me to avoid losing sight of the simple moments that really matter. And it’s pretty amazing how laughing with them really decompresses whatever the day has filled me with, especially when I am alone in my world of worry. So with this revelation came the idea of not taking life so seriously.

The book, Daddy's On A Chip, started almost eight years ago in the middle of the night during one of my husband’s first post-9/11 deployments. At that time, my son was just learning to talk and my daughter and I found his mispronunciations a source of amusement. Of course I wasn’t sleeping much at night and since writing had always been an outlet for me I just started “doodling” about the crazy things that come out of my kids’ mouths.

I consider this book to be a little bit of our lives on paper and something a lot of other wives and kids of SEALs, and really any service member, can relate to. It is also sort of an ode to my kids for their part in teaching me some valuable life’s lessons. Yes, my guy is gone (again) and of course the car is going to break down because somehow it senses the absence of testosterone. The grass will most certainly not receive the care it is used to (or, uh, any) and my kids will go through a stage of personality disorder, or perhaps attitude deterioration. It would be a shame to waste this chance to show my children how I can be emotionally intelligent, understanding, and most importantly, a dork.

To order the book Daddy's On A Chip, visit or call 757-339-1555.

Your Military Family Network is Here! Order Your Copy Now!

"Your Military Family Network reference book is the most complete source of information for the active military, veterans and their families that I have seen. At first I just skimmed through it, but when I read the contents and your instructions on how to use this book, I realize this book was worth much more than the purchase price. Thank you for providing a helping hand for our military who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. Your book it is a treasure for me and for all military personnel." - Curt M., WWII veteran



Robin is MFN’s Military Family Specialist. She is a regular feature to our monthly newsletter to help connect you with solutions to challenges in your military life. Robin, a soldier of eighteen years and a family programs specialist, will be your guide to keeping informed, being prepared and, well, mopping up messes if that’s what it takes! You can reach Robin by emailing for some good old Q&A or you can sit back and keep reading as we introduce some of her fine work right here in MFN’s monthly newsletter. So, as they say, “On with the show!”

This month, Nancy writes: How can I find resources for my active duty son who has an addiction?

And, Robin replies:

Hi Nancy,

Thank you for contacting The Military Family Network. I'm sorry to hear of your concern and my heart goes out to you. Your son is very fortunate to have someone in his life like you caring and looking out for his wellbeing. I hope you also take some time to care for yourself, too.

The response to your question is somewhat complex and may be dependent on other information not available to me.

First of all, your son is the active duty service member. Any requests for assistance through the military support system must come from him. Also, it is far better for him to self-admit, then for him to be caught in his addiction. There is a zero-tolerance policy, but if he seeks help first, than he has a much better success rate of receiving treatment and being retained. In many cases, limited protections are afforded. If he does not self-admit, and his addiction is discovered, he will be in far greater trouble and not likely retained in the Service.

(You don’t mention the branch of service that your son is in, but here are the regulations for the US Army – please note pages 46-48 referencing methods of identification and self(voluntary) identification and the process that should be followed to receive help from the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP). Here is information about the Navy.

Because of this, it makes it very difficult for you to intervene on his behalf and is likely not advisable. Perhaps you and other loved ones can compel him to seek assistance through military support channels.

Resources for your son include Tricare, the Chaplain, his Command and/or the Family Support Center on his installation. There are also resources available here for both of you including an anonymous screening tool. Of course, there is always the VA, too, and you can learn more here. (Your son may need to see if they will treat active duty service members or if he can be referred elsewhere.)

Keep in mind that there is also Narcotics Anonymous ( and Alcoholics Anonymous ( – and they have programs for families, too, even if your son chooses not seek help.

Of course, if this is emergent, than it should go without saying that you should contact 911.

I hope that this information is helpful to you and your son and I sincerely hope that he receives the help he needs soon.

Peace out,


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Nominate Your Employer for the 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award

It is only possible for our National Guard and Reserve members to perform at their best with the support of loved ones, friends, neighbors and, particularly, employers. Thousands of employers across the nation employ National Guard and Reserve members, fully aware that at any moment they may be called to serve. And when this happens, both the employee and employer face challenges. We are grateful for the many employers who remain patriotically steadfast in support of their military employees, both financially and emotionally, going well beyond the law. Supportive employers allow service members to perform their duties while alleviating concerns about their jobs and loved ones back home.

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense agency, invites nominations for the 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for outstanding support of their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. National Guard and Reserve members and their families are eligible, and encouraged, to nominate their employers now through January 18th, 2010 at .

Freedom Award recipients support their Guard and Reserve employees and their families in important ways, both large and small. Past recipients have provided differential pay during deployments, continued insurance benefits and sent comfort items in care packages. Some of the most valued assistance has been the support extended to deployed service members' families. When one National Guard member was deployed, his employer filled his seat at his sons' sports games. After another service member's family hit hard times during a deployment, his employer stacked gifts under the family's Christmas tree. And during the deployment of a single father, his employer sent his daughters off to school each morning with a wake up phone call. These seemingly small acts have a significant impact on the lives of National Guard and Reserve members and their families.

Any employer supportive of its National Guard and Reserve employees or their families is eligible for Freedom Award nomination. Past recipients of the award have ranged from a small family-owned farm in Iowa to large corporations, including Chrysler and Microsoft, to public sector employers including the City of Austin, Texas.

The 2010 recipients will be announced in the spring and honored in September at the 15th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony in Washington, D.C. Recipients of the 2009 award met with President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and received their awards at a ceremony with the keynote given by Dr. Jill Biden.

Click here to submit a nomination.


MFN Helps Businesses Reach the Military Market

We all know how The Military Family Network™ serves service members, veterans, and military families by providing resources, information and trusted expert and community advice to help them navigate through military life.

But did you know that MFN also helps businesses reach this market? By introducing the military community to trusted businesses, MFN can help your business tap into a market that is traditionally harder to reach. And with our new website nearly ready to go, we will offer even more possibilities, both for businesses and the community we serve.

There are numerous new features, including improved and simplified navigation, enhanced forums, the ability to add your own blog, and a dedicated server giving us much more bandwidth and processing power, which provides you with a greatly improved user experience.

You've already seen the ever increasing number of experts in various fields who are coming on board with MFN to provide you with the information you need. Enhanced search and tagging capabilities will make it easier for you to find this information.

And there is so much more. How many times have you read one of our news articles and wanted to respond? Or perhaps you read an informational piece on our site, and had additional information you would like to contribute. Well, now you will be able to! You will be able to leave comments, discuss topics with you fellow community members, easily syndicate the content to your RSS feeds, and much much more.



NORAD Tracks Santa!
Source: North American Aerospace Defense Command

Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!

On Dec. 24, 1955, a call was made to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. However, this call was not from the president or a general. It was from a girl in Colorado Springs who was following the directions in an advertisement printed in the local paper – she wanted to know the whereabouts of Santa Claus.

The ad said “Hey, Kiddies! Call me direct and be sure and dial the correct number.” However, the number was printed incorrectly in the advertisement and rang into the CONAD operations center.

On duty that night was Col. Harry Shoup, who has come to be known as the “Santa Colonel.” Col. Shoup received numerous calls that night and rather than hanging up, he had his operators find the location of Santa Claus and reported it to every child who phoned in that night.

Thus began a tradition carried on by the North American Aerospace Defense Command when it was formed in 1958. Today, through satellite systems, high-powered radars and jet fighters, NORAD tracks Santa Claus as he makes his Yuletide journey around the world.

Every Christmas Eve, several hundred volunteers staff telephone hotlines and computers to answer calls and e-mails from children (and adults) from around the world. Live updates are provided on the NORAD Tracks Santa Web Site (in six languages), over telephone lines and by e-mail to keep curious children and their families informed about where Santa really is and if it’s time to get to bed.

In November and December 2006, the NORAD Tracks Santa Web Site received nearly a billion hits from 210 countries and territories around the world. More than half a million people called the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline, and volunteers received nearly 12,500 e-mails from children around the globe.

NORAD Tracks Santa has become a magical and global phenomenon, delighting generations of families everywhere.

So, once again it is time to follow Santa and his sleigh as he travels around the world and delivers toys to all the girls and boys. Just log on to track Santa as he prepares for another Christmas celebration.

Great Holiday Recipes at Mrs. Claus' Kitchen

For great recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, candy, fudge, bread and much more, be sure to visit Mrs. Claus' Cookbook.

Need some great holiday party banter to keep your family, friends and colleagues entertained? Well, look no further than the U.S. Census Bureau’s fun “Facts for Features” holiday edition! Here, we can find out everything-we-don’t-really-need-to-know-but-is-kind-of-neat-that-we-do! So, welcome to towns like Snowflake, AZ and Dasher, GA as well as Champaign, IL; learn that the 1.3 billion dollar candle business gets a huge boost during Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations; and, that there are roughly 683 toy manufactures in the United States helping out Santa’s elves. Now come on? Does it get any better than this? Well, read on to see...



"I’m Bored! There’s Nothing To Do!"

Sound familiar? Let take away your pain! is the official kids' portal for the U.S. government. It links to over 2,000 web pages from government agencies, schools, and educational organizations, all geared to the learning level and interest of kids. And it’s Free! There is no way your child won’t find something here to enjoy and you’ll get that holiday breather that you deserve! Bookmark your visit to and get a jumpstart on your holiday!

Practical tips for military families living with combat stress and PTSD

In this podcast, founders, Dr. Frank Ochberg of Gift From Within, and Megan Turak of The Military Family Network™, provide military families and extended members of the military family community practical guidelines, actions and skills for dealing with combat stress and PTSD situations. To Listen, visit this link.

Help for the Holidays: Ideas for the Bereaved
By Laura Slap-Shelton, Psy.D
Courtesy of Gift From and Grief and

It's been over 10 years since my early experiences with grief and the holidays. Here are some ideas which may be helpful for others. Read More...

Looking to make a charitable donation this holiday season? Consider Gift From Within is a non-profit organization dedicated to those who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), those at risk for PTSD, and those who care for traumatized individuals; develops and disseminates educational material, including videotapes, articles, books, and other resources through its website; maintains a roster of survivors who are willing to participate in an international network of peer support; is designated by the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(3) public charity, eligible to receive tax-exempt grants, gifts, and donations. Make your gift by visiting This Link.



Avoid Charity Fraud

A flyer in the mail, a phone call, a personalized email — everyone receives requests for donations in one form or another. Many legitimate charities use telemarketing, direct mail, email and online ads to ask for contributions. Unfortunately, scam artists also use these techniques to pocket your money. Read More...

Transfer Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits easier with new virtual application

A new module in the virtual Military Personnel Flight that will simplify the process of transferring Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to dependents is set to launch this month. Read More and see additional resources about transferring your education benefits...

Reservist Keeps in Touch With Students

Master Sgt. Linda Adams has been an elementary school teacher for the past four years. Read More...

Army Guard Works to Help Soldiers Find Jobs

Because of the current slow economy, some Guardsmen are returning from deployments to find their civilian job has been downsized or completely done away with. Read more...



Operation Troop Appreciation Stuffs Soldiers’ Stockings Early This Year

While attending a recent Yellow Ribbon conference, a deploying Army Reserve soldier shared with the Military Family Network that he was in dire need of a drop down holster – something a little easier to use than what he had been issued. So, once back in the office, Megan and Lou went to work and hooked Tom up with Kristen Holloway Querriera – the President of Operation Troop Appreciation (OTA). OTA has supplied countless service members with everything from field equipment to personal protective gear like goggles and t-shirts to recreation items and care packages. Their motto always seems to be “if you need it and we can get it, you can have it!”

Well, that’s precisely what happened for Tom. OTA provided him with a whole holster system and talked him into getting an adapter kit so that he can wear the weapon on different parts of his body allowing him greater flexibility. And, since OTA never likes to leave anyone out on the party, they gave every soldier in his unit of eight the same gift!

Thanks Kristen and OTA for keeping our soldiers fit and strong!

(Say “Thank You” this Holiday season: Donate to Operation Troop Appreciation by visiting OTA's site.)

Holiday Gifting that Gives!

As we all approach the holiday season, ramp up to meet friends and family, pull out favorite recipes and sweaters and start shopping, I wanted to share a link to let you know of some wonderfully priced Christmas wreaths and assorted gift items that also give back to a wonderful cause: people in our own country who are and have been struggling for years.

When my husband was deployed in 2006-2007, he deployed with nearly 500 men from Eastern Kentucky in the heart of the Appalachia's. When his gear came in, we traveled back to the area and met with various soldiers who invited us to their homes to meet their families. Never in my life had I ever been to such poor areas within the U.S. You literally cannot believe that this is taking place in America! Country roads revealed rusted trailers and taped windows, junked cars and various other signs of hard times and poverty. Today, my husband still hears from many in this region trying to get back to Iraq or Afghanistan, because for them, being deployed to a war-zone with full medical benefits and a steady paycheck for their family is better than opportunities at home.

So please consider these wreaths for loved ones on your gift list. The prints by Jeri Landers are also neat. All of the gifts and wreaths are tied to a wonderful program with the Christian Appalachian Project. This season, please lend a hand if you can help. To learn more, visit this link .

Thank you,
Karen, Bob and Family




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Get Seen! Get Heard! Join MFN’s Referral Network!

The Military Family Network™ has connected and worked with media outfits of all kinds including ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, Montel Williams, Dr. Phil Show, Sesame Street, AARP, Newsweek, Army Times, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, Social Security, Department of Labor, Military OneSource, Reader’s Digest, VFW, United Press International, Lifetime, etc. and countless newspapers around the world. These organizations contact MFN for a variety of reasons, but in each case, they want to hear from the military community.

If you are a service member, military family member or veteran and would like to be included in MFN’s referral network for media opportunities, please email with your interest and contact information and Lou will be glad to include you for future opportunities.

Privacy Notice: The Military Family Network™ is committed to ensuring the privacy of our military community according to the Department of Defense and MFN does not release or sell information about individuals. In the event that you participate in MFN’s referral network, you will be contacted by MFN about the opportunity first and if you are interested, you will be given the choice to provide MFN with permission to release your contact information (name, email or phone only) or be given the contact information to make the connection yourself. If you are an active member of the Armed Forces, it is always advisable to contact PAO for guidelines, permission, etc., before participating in public media opportunities.



Exclusive Discounts Draw Military Shoppers to Exchange Online Mall

The addition of Fingerhut, Government Vacation Rewards and 21 additional name-brand websites is driving sales growth of 26 percent at the All-Service’s Exchange Online Mall. Read More...

AAFES Seeking Sizzling Holiday Creations for $3,850 in Shopping Sprees

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service and Hershey’s are joining culinary forces to determine which AAFES shoppers have the most talent in the kitchen. The Patriot Family Holiday Creations contest, which runs Nov. 1 – Dec. 31, will spotlight recipes and photos of cakes, cupcakes and cookies decorated in holiday style by military shoppers. Read More...

Hundreds of Toys and Thousands of Dollars in Prizes in AAFES' 2009 Toy Book

Just in time for holiday shopping, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service has unwrapped its biggest and most extensive toy book ever. Jam-packed with the hottest toys, electronics, learning and activities, the 2009 Toy Book has everything to make children’s holiday dreams come true. Read more about how to get your 2009 Toy Book at this link.

Trade Commission Offers Gift Card Tips

Because distance often separates extended and even immediate families in military life, gift cards are a popular choice for holiday gift-giving. After all, one size fits all, and the recipients can get exactly what they want from a retailer or restaurant. Read More...



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