Do you support the troops?
Both supporters and opponents of the war are quick to inform us that “I support the troops.”
Great. The next question is, “How do you support the troops?”
Anybody can say “I support the troops.” But unless you are doing something concrete to support the troops, or one soldier in particular, it rings a little hollow.
Over here in Iraq, we know who supports the troops. The real troop supporters are those who are doing something concrete to support us. Those people send us mail and care packages. If you say support the troops, do something specific to support the troops – or even just one troop. Support your local soldier.
The first step is to select a specific soldier to support. That’s a lot more concrete than endlessly affirming that “I support the troops”. Anybody can say that. But if you support a specific soldier – an individual – you are moving from the abstract to the concrete. You are putting your money where you mouth is. You are walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
Select a soldier. Maybe you have one in mind already, or maybe you have to look for one. Do you have a friend or relative who is serving in Iraq? Maybe you have a co-worker, a member of your church, a friend of a friend or friend of a relative. Some soldier. Any soldier. It shouldn’t be hard to find the name and address of a soldier. If you absolutely cannot find the name of a soldier in Iraq , send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you the name and address of one of my fellow soldiers.
Now that you have a name and address, you’re ready to start supporting your troops.
Send your selected soldier letters. Real letters. Even in today’s world of the internet and simultaneous communication, there is no substitute for a letter – a real authentic piece of paper inside an envelope, which you can actually feel in your hands, open it up, read it, savor it and read it again, wherever you are. There’s still nothing like it. The great thing is the soldiers here can write back postage free.
When you write, tell your soldier you are praying for him (or her). And really pray for your soldier. Send your soldier care packages. These are great morale boosters. Send snacks, and lots of them. Send hygiene items like toothpaste and shaving cream. Send baby wipes which aren’t just good for babies. Send Ziploc plastic bags and office supplies, such as pens and paper. Don’t worry about sending too much, because the soldier can share with his comrades. That way you’re helping more than one soldier.
Send books and magazines. Soldiers are sometimes stuck in situations in which they can read, so they need some good reading material. You can also purchase your soldier a subscription to a magazine or hometown newspaper. Also, phone cards are great morale boosters because it allows a soldier to call home. Send these frequently.
Do you have young children? Have your kids draw pictures and send them to your soldier. Are you a teacher? Organize a pen-pal exchange with your soldier. That's good for both the soldier and the students.
As you continue to send your adopted soldier, be sure and ask him if there is anything specific he would like. A special snack, for example, that is not available in the PX, CD or DVD, or even a crossword puzzle book. Whatever.
When you do these kinds of things, you are supporting your local soldier. As time and funds permit, you might even take on another soldier or two. You will be supporting the troops.
And believe me, they will appreciate it. And you’ll feel good too. Because you’ll know in your heart that you really are supporting the troops.
Allan Wall ( www.allanwall.com) is currently serving in Iraq with his Texas Army National Guard unit. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily coincide with those of the Bush administration, the Department of Defense or the Department of Transportation.
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