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Former Townsend residents looking out for U.S. Marines

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — They are the few, they are the proud, and they risk life and limb to protect the country on a daily basis.

And unfortunately, many of those injured in that safeguarding duty come home to too little support and a dearth of opportunities to continue serving the country.

Devil Dog Advocates, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization recently founded by engaged Townsend natives Jayne Robtoy and Michael Canava, is one group campaigning for the rights of Marines and their families. Even after the Marines have done their duty, they deserve some public support for a job well done.

Robtoy and Canava’s combined efforts have allowed them to establish the nonprofit organization only six months after the pair moved to Alexandria. The group officially became active in May of this year.

“We’re trying to support Marines and their families,” said Robtoy, chairman of the Advocates. “We’re trying to get people involved with community projects.”

While the group lobbies for pro-Marine legislation, Robtoy added that the organization’s nonprofit nature only allows it to do a small amount of lobbying. Therefore, the Advocates educate Marines about the legislation out there, so they can lobby for their own interests. “We like to get them involved.”

The Advocates, named for the term supposedly applied to U.S. Marines by German soldiers during World War I, due to their tenacious ferocity in battle, believe it is important for Marines to be able to communicate openly with their elected officials, especially in regards to legislation that could affect them. They are “dedicated to building a bridge of communication between Congress and Marines.”

The organization’s other services include “care” package drives, letter-writing drives, outreach programs for injured Marines and job banks. Recently separated Marines are invited to send in their résumés for professional touch-ups and job placement help.

There is a package drive scheduled for Nov. 8 in Watertown, Conn., and Robtoy hopes to be able to send some oft-request items along, including the popular “SureFire” flashlights.

Robtoy hopes to be able to hold a drive in Massachusetts before long and is currently trying to set one up, along with many other things left to do. Canava is presently overseas in Iraq, so Robtoy is taking on all the challenges on her own.

“We just filed for tax-exempt status,” she added.

Even though the organization is still in its infancy, Robtoy promises that the remainder of 2008 will be a busy one for the Advocates.

“We will have at least 10 events by the end of the year,” she said.

For more information on Devil Dog Advocates Inc., visit the organization’s Web site at www. devildogadvocates.org.

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