Soldiers, Families Shelling Out to Local Economy

Nearly 7,500 National Guard troops are being called to Camp Shelby over the next few months to train for mobilization overseas. About 4,000 are already there and they're bringing their families and money with them.

After 8-and-a-half hours on the road, all these two families wanted was a good nap and a road map.

"I bet this is all of Camp Shelby right here," Liza Shea-Peacher said as she opened a map at the Hattiesburg Wal-Mart.

She and Roxanne Caudill were anxious to find out exactly where their husbands have been stationed the past two weeks.

"We kept looking, and we couldn't find it. We knew it was on Lee Avenue but we couldn't find Lee Avenue on the map, and it was this great bright pink spot on the map. It was Camp Shelby," Shea-Peacher said.

Finding the WalMart was much easier.

"Our husbands, you know, they're going to have a fit about Wal-Mart, but we don't have one in our town. We have to go out of town for Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has everything, everything you need," said Caudill.

The soldiers may not be doing much shopping, but they are spending plenty.

"The other guys I came out here with, we stay at a local commune in Hattiesburg, and we eat all of our meals off the economy, going out to restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, et cetera," said soldier Capt. David Kirkland.

"The profits continue to roll in as more troops arrive in Hattiesburg. Soldiers and their families are expected to bring more than $50-million dollars to local businesses like this one."

"Well, our customer traffic has been up tremendously. We're just glad to have the troops in the area training and just want to thank them for what they're doing for our country. And really want to thank them for their patronage to our store," said Tommy Sproles, Wal-Mart's Assistant Manager.

As for Mrs. Caudill and Shea-Peacher, they can't wait to see their soldiers. Handing over the shopping receipts may have to wait.