Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cheering Soldiers--Two Soldiers' Points of View

Jan. 5's blog bounced back other points of view. I want to share them.

Former Sacred Heart Catholic School and Alemany High School classmate, Jay, who served as an Air Force pilot in Viet Nam and post Viet Nam, and is now retired, wrote: (Slightly edited for content)

Ain't it great that the guys, like your nephew, can email home? I remember back when we had to actually "write home." Probably why my parents never knew what was going on in Viet Nam ... or 10 years later in the Mediterranean area.

The military guys and gals are not supposed to sound "cheery." Geeez From experience I can tell you that it is NOT cheery to be far from home while getting your ass shot at. (For that matter, getting your front shot at too.)

One thing I do know is that you, Charmaine, DO know how to cheer a soldier's heart. The stuff you and other AHS 66ers sent for John really cheered up him and his guys in Iraq. He says he will send pics as soon as he gets back from "properly handling illegal immigration" on his "classified" part of the Iraq border. ( Seems so strange that "getting back" means returning to the Baghdad area?).

The last paragraph of your blog, "Gifts? Cards? Emails? I don’t know. However, if a reader would like some mailing addresses of our volunteer soldiers in Iraq, email me and I’ll get that information out." Is sure a great way to cheer up the troops. Cards and emails cost little to send. Gifts, on the other hand, can be an expensive hassle. Customs forms, postage, etc., yuk. So, if you get enough people who want to send gifts, let me know. I'm sure that between the two of us, we can find a way to get the stuff shipped. (We can go into that later if needed.)

I'm sure there are a lot of your readers who would like to "get involved." But they just don't know how or what to send as gifts. Gotta give them some guidance. How many people know that a lot of the troops are getting snowed on right now? Not many. The military takes care of keeping their feet warm while on duty. But a lot of them would love to have a pair of those socks that skiers and hunters wear. Or a fleece-lined pair of slippers? Sounds silly, huh? That kind of thing, along with CD's, DVD's, jerky, whatever. The things we all take for granted are very special to the troops.

Officers, for the most part, have the finances and the means of getting such things. And so do a lot of the enlisteds and noncoms. But, you have the low-ranked, married with children enlisted guys. The good ones go without the "niceties" to make sure as much of their pay as possible gets home. The losers spend it on themselves and leave it to their spouses to cover the kids. I'm sure Sgt Jer knows, as does my son John, who those losers are. And who are the good ones. So, if we come up with "gifts" to send over there, we can let them decide who gets what.

Just want you to know that doing the "cheer a soldier" thing needs to be organized. My mom's friends have been paying as much to send things across town to me (to forward) as it costs to send them all the way to Iraq. Get your people organized, Char. They can mail direct. Or, they can accumulate it at your place or mine. We'll find a way to get it shipped by the military.

Another sugestion comes from my step brother, also a Viet Nam veteran who remains active with all military causes. He wrote: (Again, slightly edited for content)

I'm just spit-balling this since it has been a while since I've deployed, but most letters are welcome. Especially if you are trying to cheer him. I certainly would not talk policy, politics, or let him know that Jody's got his girl and gone. I understand from recent vets that AT&T calling cards are great gifts. Believe it, or not, most troops have the opportunity to watch DVD's, so a real current video of a good flick is nice. The mail system is good enough that cookies don't spoil...(I was )once sent me some avocados -- which turned-out to be a real problem by the time they arrived!

Readers, my email is ready to reply.

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