With our country's history of attacks and war, it is undeniable that we have been well protected as a nation. Our military's members are trained to be the best at handling situations that most would not care to imagine. Veterans and active duty alike have experienced first hand the responsibilities and sacrifices that come along with being the protectors of America and her citizens. They have been sworn to secrecy during specific missions or operations and they are trusted with the most classified of information. The men and women proudly wearing the military uniform, have not only been trusted to protect the lives of their fellow comrades, and put their own lives in the protection of their comrades, but they too have been entrusted to protect the lives of the citizens of our nation. Though our military's personnel have the greater responsibilities and trust to protect, we, as citizens, need to protect them too. You may be thinking to yourself right now, "How do we protect the ones with the M-16s?" As family members, loved ones and friends of our military we too are trusted with information given to us.

OPSEC (Operational Security) is a code in which all military personnel and those supporting them are to uphold and abide by. Operations executed by our men and women in uniform, while implemented in the title of this ever important code, are not the only issues of information that need to be protected. The guidelines of Operational Security tell us that it is NOT safe to discuss over the internet or telephone specific locations, names, dates or ranks of our military's personnel. It is undoubtedly a great experience for them while on a deployment to be able to see pictures from home, as well as share his or her pictures from the current deployment. When sharing pictures though, it is imperative that we make sure there is nothing in the picture that would give away, again, specific locations, names, dates or ranks. Also, being away for so long, they are entitled to R&R for a defined amount of time. This time given to them to come home is very exciting, but specific dates and times should never be discussed over the internet. Instead of saying "He/she is coming home to Fort Campbell on October 23 and will arrive around 1600", you should say "He/she is coming home very soon!" One never can be sure where or when the enemy is watching, so we must always be on guard. So you may be thinking that by abiding by OPSEC is the only or most important way to help protect our protectors, but it is not. You can protect them too, by how you wash their uniforms.

The uniforms our heroes wear are an unmistakable indication of hard work. If they are on the flight line, in the motor pool, or 'playing' in the sands of far away lands their uniforms are subjected to oil, grease, dirt and normal wear and tear. The Advanced Combat Uniforms should never be laundered in detergents that contain optical brighteners. The chemicals that brighten colors are obviously good for keeping the colors of clothing bright and less 'worn' looking; however, when an Advanced Combat Uniform is washed in these chemicals, it will make them stand out to the enemy. Inevitably, while our men and women are overseas in a battle zone or even in simulations for training (war games) they will have to use night vision gear, but so also does the enemy. The optical brighteners, if used, will pick up the colors of the sacred uniform and will make them easier to see, even at night. So, when doing your loved ones laundry, refrain at all costs from using detergents with these harsh chemicals.

Clearly, you can see that abiding by the rules of the military and adhering to the requests of OPSEC is not the only way to keep our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Sailors, Coasties and Soldiers of the National Guard safe, but even something so simple as doing their laundry will help too, to keep them safe at home and abroad.

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