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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Paulette Cunningham demonstrated for hours over a recent weekend in front of the gates of Vandenberg Air Force Base. But unlike the millions of people worldwide who marched to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Cunningham and a few dozen others dressed in red, white and blue and waved banners and American flags in support of the troops. “We were asking people to honk their horns as they drove by to show their support,” said the public relations director for Vandenberg Federal Credit Union. “You wouldn’t believe how many military people came up to say, `Thank you. Thank you.’ It was really gratifying. A lot of people were moved to tears.” Cunningham comes from a military family. Her father and husband are both retired from the Air Force and her two sons are in the Air Force. One is a fighter pilot who is still stateside, the other is a firefighter whose location she said was unknown. Support for American troops is also visible inside the credit union. It offers a low-interest $250 loan to members who are active duty military personnel to help them get through tough times. The loan can be repaid over 20 months. Staff members are also making “goodie bags” for fighting forces overseas, providing such things as homemade cookies, note card paper, sun block and candy. “Little things that make it feel a little like home make a big difference,” Cunningham said. Cunningham is launching an effort to have people wear yellow ribbons and to tie yellow ribbons around trees until the troops come home. She also said credit union personnel were available to support military personnel on the base. “We’re here if anybody wants to talk to us, if they have a problem or if they just want some support,” she said. “The nice thing about being military is we’re a family. People in credit unions are like family. So it’s just our family helping our other family.” -

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