published Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Megathline: Adopt a soldier: Some service men and women have no support from home, but you can help with cards, packages

By Carol Megathline
U.S. soldiers stand guard in Kabul, Afghanistan.
U.S. soldiers stand guard in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

How to participate

Email carol.megathlin@comcast.net

Last weekend my husband Bill and I sat enjoying lunch at a local café. The place was abuzz with people chatting as they grabbed a bite to eat between errands and Saturday shopping. As I surveyed the crowd, a strange thought came into my head.

"What if we lived in Syria?" I said. Bill looked puzzled. "The people there live every day in fear and hunger," I added, thinking of the revolt raging in that country. "We're so lucky to live in a peaceful society where we feel secure." Bill nodded his agreement.

I was silent a moment, thinking.

"Did I tell you about the email I got yesterday?" I asked.

Bill shook his head.

I whipped out my Blackberry and began to read aloud.

The email had come to me via my website (www.adoptasoldier3id.com). Usually such messages are from grateful civilians who want to send letters and care packages to our troops who are deployed to Afghanistan. This message was different.

"Hello, I am a Soldier," the note began. "Two weeks ago I signed a card for the Adopt-A-Soldier program while at Hunter Army Airfield waiting to leave for Afghanistan.

"Thank you so much for your support of the troops," the message continued. "To a Soldier who never receives a letter or package from the states, it feels great to be thought of and cared for.

"I am that Soldier who has no one to show active support for me while I am here in Afghanistan. It is very lonely to be a deployed Soldier away from home and from those that you love. I have my husband, but he's never been a Soldier so he has no idea what it's like to be in my position, so I don't receive care packages or letters from him. I have friends, but they don't seem to have the time to show support.

"I appreciate the Adopt-A-Soldier program because I was 12 months in Afghanistan on my last deployment and absolutely no one supported me with letters or care packages and it was the loneliest year of my life. I look forward to any support I would receive through this program. Thank you very much."

Bill looked stricken.

"Don't worry, I've already found two sponsors for her,' I reassured him. "She'll be getting all the packages and letters she can handle."

But as soldiers of 3rd Infantry Division, based at nearby Fort Stewart, continue to fly out for Afghanistan, the stack of Adopt-a-Soldier cards grows. Every card bears the name, rank, and email address of a soldier who wants to be remembered while he or she is in combat for the next nine months.

They sacrifice more than we know to give us happy, heedless lunches at our favorite cafés, with the idea of a rocket exploding in our midst simply unthinkable.

Just how much they sacrifice was brought into sharp focus in December when a small unit of Fort Stewart soldiers returned from their tour in Afghanistan. As members of the 1-64 Armor Regiment marched across Cottrell Field during the homecoming ceremony, 16 of their severely wounded battle buddies joined them on the parade ground. They sat in wheelchairs or stood on crutches as their unit colors were unfurled.

After the crowd had dispersed, we headed toward our car. There on the sidewalk a soldier in a wheelchair was saying goodbye to a buddy. As the buddy walked away, I approached the soldier.

His left foot was hugely bandaged in white, his right leg from the knee down was encased in black. I bent and extended my hand, looking directly into his face.

"Thank you for what you did for us," I said quietly. He kept his eyes lowered. "You sacrificed a lot for our country and I appreciate it, because..." I paused and took a deep breath, steadying myself, "because you did it for me."

His eyes met mine. He grinned and lifted his hands off the wheels of the chair, gesturing widely with both arms.

"I did it for everybody," he said.

Such selflessness can never be repaid. But there's one thing we can do.

If you want to support a soldier in combat with care packages -- or even just emails and letters -- get in touch with me at carol.megathlin@comcast.net.

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nucanuck said...

While we need to support our soldiers in all respects, we also need to stop the government abuse of sending our soldiers all over the world to intervene in the affairs of others. That is both expensive and counter-productive.

March 10, 2013 at 11:29 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

While nobody can argue against any act of reaching out to people - military troops or otherwise - who are alone and separated from loved ones I'm perplexed by how far we have taken political correctness when it comes to our hate-the-war-but-support-our-troops mentality. How is it that most Americans, except for people like Carol Megathline here who so naively believes that our troops in these two ill conceived wars are actually making us free, realize how unjust and unwarranted these wars are yet they praise those who willingly fight them as "heroes?" Americans want so desperately to cling to some kind of warm and fuzzy feeling of patriotism that they dare not raise a finger in protest against the ones who are the actual occupiers and terrorists in two countries that our military has blown to smithereens, displacing millions from their homes and killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of innocent inhabitants. Is it really acceptable for our troops to be killing innocent people by the thousands in two remote countries just so we can have our "happy, heedless lunches at our favorite cafes?"

I realize that many young people who join are swayed by an idealistic impulse to serve their country and the fact that the military seems an attractive alternative in a society where jobs today are scarce, but we have been involved in these wrongful conflicts for over ten long years and ample evidence has been brought forth indicating how we were lied to and deceived for the purpose of engaging in wars that were unjustified from the outset. Even in Afghanistan, where we might have had some reason for invading early on, we readily accomplished our mission of disbanding al-Qaeda and we should have then left and come home. Bin-laden could have been captured without tens of thousands of boots on the ground.

Anyone who says that they hate these wars but support our troops, you are being duplicitous and only encouraging young naïve people to keep on enlisting for all the wrong reasons. You are perpetuating the notion that even an unjustified war is glorious and volunteering to fight in it is still heroic and praiseworthy. If the war itself is ignoble and unjust how can those who willingly engage in it be looked upon as noble? If you truly hate the wars and want to end them you have to stop glorifying those who so eagerly agree to be murderous participants. Instead of calling them heroes, call them what they are: dupes and fodder for the military-industrial complex.

It's good and natural to want to be patriotic but blind patriotism is no better than blind faith in religion. Both are the result of lethargic minds too dulled by constant brainwashing and fear of standing alone.

March 10, 2013 at 2:23 p.m.
nucanuck said...

While I fully agree with your thrust Rickaroo, I still have to feel that either because of youth or endocrination the vast majority of our military forces believe that they are supporting a just cause. That is why I cannot find it in my heart to damn them as we did the Viet Nam returning vets. Those scars never heal.

It is the civilian political leaders who carry full responsibility for both the unconscionable wars and the propaganda indoctrination that flow 24/7. Our politicians are in the thrall of the MIC and the financial sector and they cannot bring themselves to break away from the smell of money.

I'm afraid that only collapse could break the strangle-hold that our evil twin towers of finance and MIC have on this country.

March 10, 2013 at 3:01 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Nucanuck, while I don't condemn them exactly, neither do I go out of my way to "hug a soldier" or heap sentimental praise on them. We go way overboard in glamorizing and glorifying war and the military in this country. War should be looked upon as an evil necessity of last resort, not an ongoing and acceptable system for making profits for the war machine or an alternative for enlistees who can't get a job due to a bad economy. Being eighteen or nineteen is not an excuse for naiveté about what an enlistee is getting into. Everyone has had plenty of time to assess the situation and be aware of how meaningless and unjustified these wars are but many join anyway simply because most Americans still put soldiers on a pedestal and call them heroes just for putting on a uniform. It's madness and it's the antithesis of true patriotism. If we are going to stop America's ruthless imperialism we have to encourage more people to say NO. We can't keep calling soldiers heroes for behaving like sheep and mindlessly offering themselves up for slaughter for the MIC.

March 10, 2013 at 3:36 p.m.
TirnaNOG said...

nucanuck said... While we need to support our soldiers in all respects, we also need to stop the government abuse of sending our soldiers all over the world to intervene in the affairs of others. That is both expensive and counter-productive.

The fires are only being lit in countries with natural resources powerful nations want to get their hands on. The Horn of Africa has enough pure fresh water to serve the world over a zillion times and back again. Sudan has oil, and a precious metal called Palladium. The metal is said to be lighter in weight than silver or Platinum. Much all of Africa are drenched in an abundance of natural resources. Yet we continue to see children from places like Ethiopia dying from thirst and starvation. Ethiopia was threaten with war by powerful nation when the country sought to build a dam. Besides oil the other wars are; water and other natural resources. Makes you wonder why there's so much recent interest in adopting little black babies from Africa? So any future claims for their natural resources can be gotten on their behalf? A behalf they will likely never get to see or enjoy?

Did Mrs. Megathline check out that email to make sure it's legit? There are a lot of hoax emails floating around just waiting for the opportunity to be dumped in someone email box.

Also, although the intent is noble, these mass mailings can actually overburden an already fragile delivery system in a war zone. Military persons in past wars survived and came out for the better without having been in constant contact for months and months on end. They're fighting a war, after all. And watching video of little Jr. or missy cut his or her first tooth, or someone give birth on camera can just as well affect their ability to such situations. That's not too say to stop sending stuff and doing stuff for the military. However, it should be kept in perspective.

March 10, 2013 at 4:29 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Rickaroo, I can assure that I don't pat soldiers on the back or say "good job". When I see a soldier with deployment gear, usually at an airport, I just think to myself, "how sad, he/she just doesn't know how their country is abusing them".

March 11, 2013 at 1:35 a.m.
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