Monday, August 06, 2007

Overwhelming Support

Internet and phones are the number one morale issue for our Soldiers; they present a whole new dimension to the experience of being deployed to a combat zone. All-in-all, I imagine its a huge improvement over what our fathers and grandfathers experienced in Vietnam, Korea, and WWII. That being said, there is a downside to Soldiers' more regular communication with families: they experience the emotional roller coaster of their families' lives more acutely. But we'll take the ups and downs if it keeps us connected.

Soldiers have expressed to me their surprise and even discomfort/embarrassment with the support they receive from not only family and friends, but from strangers back home. It's true; we receive amazing support from complete strangers all the time. Langston Chapel Elementary School has adopted our Battalion, and the students send us handwritten letters and drawings. The charity, ComPadres, whose members support Chaplain (Father) Barkemeyer's ministry has donated six Xbox 360 consoles and support packages and a few portable DVD players for me to deliver to our Soldiers out at the Combat Out Posts (see JSS Arcala post below). (If you are interested in supporting them while they support Soldiers, not only of our battalion, but Soldiers and Marines throughout our brigade area of operations, please visit their website at: http://www.thecompadres.org/ .)
We have church groups send us care packages all the time. Recently, we had a church youth group from California donate several very large boxes with socks, shower shoes, underwear and several other high quality items that were immediately put to use. They also sent us more than 100 Beanie Babies (in the black bag I'm hefting above) to give to Iraqi children. The father of one of our leaders, and a good friend of mine--SFC Gamblin--organized his Sunday school class in Clinton, Missouri to resupply me with clippers and trimmers for haircuts, shops vacs for chapel clean-up, and study bibles for some of the lay leaders in our non-denominational worship community. A buddy of mine sent me a bunch of recently released DVDs which we show on Saturdays during hair cuts. A Boulder, Colorado graphics and signs company has offered to produce, at cost, vinyl prints of Soldiers' loved ones for them to carry with them wherever they go (http://www.peelvinyl.com/).
Arline Grant, from Hampstead, New Hampshire, and campaign director for AdoptaPlatoon (http://adoptaplatoon.org/new/, recently sent me more quality barber supplies, making it possible for me to have a field set and one I use back here at Blue Diamond--the Soldiers may be hot, dirty and tired, but they'll have a sharp haircut. Just today, I received a few care packages from a church group in Brussels, Belgium. Adults, youth and children participated in sending us letters, treats, and practical items our Soldiers will love. Most of our supporters are complete strangers. People who will never get to see our faces, and know how much we appreciate their thoughtfulness.

Of course, the danger in sharing with you some of the details of the support we receive is that one could get the idea that we have enough, or that what you might send really doesn't make much of a difference. That's simply not the case. We have just under 1,000 soldiers in our battalion, and several hundred more Marines, Sailors, Airmen and civilian employees here at Camp Blue Diamond with us--and I have never heard anything but gratitude and amazement of the generosity of others. It is humbling to witness your efforts.

3 comments:

Bobbi Tremain said...

The box I sent SGT. Tremain seems so huge next time him! Trust me there are many more carepackages that will be coming from this way!! ;o) As you know SGT. Tremain got to come home on leave and was a very fast but wonderful leave it was. I know you were kind of lost without him around but I do thank you for letting me have him for a short time. :o) Please help to keep him safe and keep his spirits up! Thank you so much for all your efforts and spiritual leading. God bless you Chaplain Kline!!

Anonymous said...

The cost of that smile? PRICELESS

Books for soldiers
Somebody's Mother

Arline Grant said...

Glad to hear the barber supplies will keep the guys looking sharp! Thank you so much for all you do! Hugs from NH,
Arline