A family friend is serving in Iraq, he is engaged in the hazardous day-to-day work of restoring basic security for the Iraqi people. I have no idea if this is having an impact on the safety of Iraqi citizens or the occupation forces, but I sincerely hope so.
It’s one thing to deal with the war in the abstract, and quite another to stand in your kitchen and speak with a mother about her son’s deployment in harm’s way.
His patrol spends most of its time “in the field”, and the conditions do not sound like something most of us coddled Americans would be able to tolerate for more than a few hours, let alone weeks. He’s passed along a request for some basic toiletries that are often sold out at the PX, as well as some special requests. It seems particularly galling to me that, three years into this war, and with repeated media stories on shortages in body armor and other military essentials, the wealthiest nation on earth is incapable of maintaining adequate supplies of soap and lip balm for its soldiers on top of everything else.
The chances we leave Iraq better than we found it seem impossbily dim at the moment, but as far as I can tell, the morale of US soldiers and their belief in the mission remains high. I hope you will consider making a small donation or writing a letter to brighten the day of a soldier serving in a hostile and unfamiliar environment. If you contact me, I can provide you the address and names of the men serving in the patrol of our family friend. Otherwise, you can visit Operation Mail From Home. Scroll down to the bottom of the list to see the most recent requests from US soldiers in Iraq.
PS – I am not interested in a discussion of the conflict’s merits. If you are incapable of separating the desire to help your neighbor, or your neighbor’s neighbor, from your feelings about the attendant external forces, then please click along.
Here is the request for items we received:
- Toiletries: toothbrushes (apparently Army-issue is not so soft), soap, lotion, shampoo, deodorant (small hotel size is perfect)
- Small boxes of sandwich bags to hold toiletries
- Quart and gallon-size ziploc bags to hold other things (and keep out the sand)
- Liquid hand cleaner
- Small packs of tissues
- Lip balm or Carmex
- Foot cream for athlete’s feet (they live in their boots)
- Small packages of baby wipes that can fit in their pockets
- Packages of AA or AAA batteries
- Candy bars (til March, then I think it gets too hot), gum, mints, etc.
- Granola bars, small boxes of raisins, small cans of tuna, etc.
- Magazines: Maxim, etc. (for the Privates); Mens Journal, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, The Economist (for the officers)
- Special: DVDs
- Really extra special: Cigars (for the end of a mission)
- update: Deflated soccer balls – very popular with iraqi children
Update: Note to self, test contact form. Contact page is now working.