Saturday, 1 June 2013

09:54 – There’s been some discussion over the last couple of days about sending CARE packages to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Someone posted a link to a very useful web site, Among other things, that site has a frequently-updated list of Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine, and Coastguard personnel who serve as contacts for their units. Each has a page on the site that lists information about them and their units, and what kind of stuff they need.

Sending packages to the troops is one of those things that everyone knows is a Good Thing, but it’s one of those get-a-round-tuit things. As I was sitting there looking at one Marine’s page, I got to thinking. We make a Costco run every month or so, and I send out Priority Mail packages every day. So it’d be no big deal to “adopt” a unit, pick up some stuff for them every time we make a Costco run, box it up, and send it off. And if we make that a regular thing, the round tuit problem goes away.

So I picked out a unit, which’ll be in Afghanistan through December. There are 15 people in the unit, all women, and the unit is based in North Carolina. They maintain and fly attack choppers. On our next Costco run, we’ll pick up some of the stuff they’ve requested and ship it off. Being girls, Barbara and Mary will be good advisors as to what to send. Also, having run around the world with Blue Planet Run a few years ago, Mary knows from experience what kind of stuff women are likely to want when they’re stuck in the middle of nowhere.

One note. In the comments the other day, Lynn mentioned sending homemade cookies to his son while he was deployed in the Mideast. That’s fine if you’re sending stuff to a friend or family member, but otherwise the rule is only commercially packaged items. It’s sad but true that our troops are told to discard homemade food because it’s simply not safe to eat homemade food from an unknown source.

19 thoughts on “Saturday, 1 June 2013”

  1. I’ve tried to do the same for Canadian troops, but our government has a policy that you must be related to the soldier, no ‘for general distribution’ for anything, including books, model kits and other things you can’t eat. Sigh. It’s actually easier for me to support US troops, than my own.

    Seems a touch ironic to send a soldier into a war-zone, where a bitter enemy will try to kill him in a moment, then tell him to toss Nana’s cookies as “unsafe to eat”.

  2. Yeah, but the question is whether they’re actually Nana’s cookies or something that someone who was busier earlier in the week beheading a Brit soldier cooked up and sent off to our troops.

  3. My former employer, being a major supplier of things that are used by the military, had a number of programs to support the troops. The first two were company-wide, the last two were local.
    – through the USO, there was a program to buy “goodie bags” that were given to troops rotating in to Afghanistan and Iraq. It had things like chapstick, gum, tissues, a phone card, etc. We did this each year.
    – each of the company installations got a “we support the troops” banner that was put up and you were asked to sign it. It was then shipped to a unit over there.
    – we had a book drive for kid/young adult books to be given to dependents of those deployed overseas. Something for the home front.
    – we collected cash, used it to buy stuff wanted by the troops, packed and shipped it to a unit overseas. The unit was one that a co-worker’s son served in. IIRC, the items included sunscreen, lip balm/chapstick, flavor packets/Gatorade for individual bottles of water, etc.

    A couple of other initiatives I’ve heard of:
    – a local businessman set up a program a couple of years ago to send Girl Scout cookies to the troops. He paid for shipping and when you saw a cookie booth at the grocery store, you could “buy a box” for the troops. As I recall, a couple of containers ended up being sent and the cookies were handed out at one of the R&R/refit centers in Iraq.
    – my wife’s nephew was among the first US troops into Kabul. (A Marine unit that landed at the airport while being shot at. Only a handful of spec ops and local irregulars held the airport and only one end of it. His unit quickly expanded the perimeter.) He noticed that lots of kids had no shoes. He mentioned it to his mom. She organized a kid’s shoe drive at her RC church. It grew to the whole diocese, and they sent a lot of shoes over there. The troops gave them out while on patrol in Kabul.

  4. Ok, I’ll play devil’s advocate. Why send care packages to a unit in Afghanistan? Sure, it’s not directly their fault that they are there. But the US has no need to be there, now, 12 *years* after 9/11. While one shouldn’t blame the troops for the errors of their superiors, why would you actively support such idiocy?

  5. Because they’re all our kids. Surely you can’t seriously blame them for being where they are? Trying to make those kids’ lives a little better is in no way supporting the idiocy of the politicians who sent them there.

  6. I understand that American kids are over there and being fucked over repeatedly, but they signed up on the dotted line; we haven’t had a draft here in ages. And I don’t mind sending them goodies to make their lives a bit more bearable; what sticks in my craw in a majorly way is that we are beggared and bled white by taxes in this empire and a huge chunk of it goes to DOD; why does that not suffice to make our soldiers’ lives more bearable? Evidently that money is being spent on other things.

    And to play devil’s advocate some more, yeah, maybe we can blame them for being there and supporting the idiocies of the criminal regime that sends them there. It’s possible to read the media, either print or online now, and get a fairly objective sense that things in the Suck really suck bad, and our military presence there will be about as useful, or less so, actually, than that of our predecessors, the Soviets and the British. Ditto in Iraq, another gigantic mutating clusterfuck. So why sign on that dotted line, like I did back in the Iron Age, or our cousins up here, when you risk life and limb for such a shitty enterprise??? And even if you really bust your nads and get into a Seal unit or something, your chopper will mysteriously crash and explode with all hands DOA, shorty after the vaunted hunting down and termination of our major bogeyman, supposedly, and to this day not one decent or plausible explanation. No word at all, in fact.

    And don’t get me started on the guys we left behind in SEA, thanks to Herr Doktor Kissinger’s realpolitik and the wonderful Dick Nixon; probably worked to death as slaves in commie death camps in North Vietnam, Laos, and Red Chiner; some allegedly gone to Siberia, too.

    Sign on the dotted line at the recruiting station for *that* shit???

    Not what I advise young Americans to do these days, not by a long shot.

  7. Those “kids” are over there because half of them signed up for love of country. They will be in for 4 to 8 years, depending on their MOS. The other half signed up for the military because their home lives are squalid nightmares that you can see each night on that old tv show, “Cops”. They are hoping that the military is a good way to get out of the cycle of bad homes and get themselves educated on Uncle’s dime to boot. They are hoping to stay in for 20 years and get a military pension and then get a second job with their training.

    You would be amazed how many support personnel we have in the Suck. Fixing those crapping humvees, tanks, bradleys, helicopters, airplanes, radios and now the hulking MRAPs that make great targets according to the son. My son was doing patrol duty for a while in a humvee that only had 2nd gear. Started in 2nd, drove in 2nd with the engine screaming to go 45 mph. So they ran out of diesel halfway through the patrol and had to get more from the other humvees. Never got fixed to his knowledge.

  8. Got to 95 F here today in the Land of Sugar and the pool is 89 F. Took a nice swim this afternoon in the shade.

  9. One note. In the comments the other day, Lynn mentioned sending homemade cookies to his son while he was deployed in the Mideast. That’s fine if you’re sending stuff to a friend or family member, but otherwise the rule is only commercially packaged items. It’s sad but true that our troops are told to discard homemade food because it’s simply not safe to eat homemade food from an unknown source.

    Yup, yup, yup! Be sure to put everything you send in its original packaging inside of a ziploc freezer gallon bag. That just ensures that should the original packaging get compromised, the stuff is still sealed up.

    And yes, you will bring a little joy to someone’s life. Yes, they did volunteer but not many of them planned to go there. We have a young man that we taught Bible School back in the 1990s and is now in his fifth deployment to the Suck. Twice to Iraq and he is currently in Afghanistan for the third time. He joined the Guard to help pay for his schooling at Sam Houston and to his surprise they sent him to Iraq. He finally got his degree in criminal justice? last year (four one year deployments plus three months training for each really cuts into your schooling) and the Guard promoted him to Lieutenant. He has got the cutest two year old little girl waiting for Daddy to come home late this year.

  10. I’ll just say this and then shut up for tonight: love of country and its people and one’s family does not then automatically equal that it’s the right thing to do the State’s bidding by signing on that line and engaging in a foreign war where the State has no business. And I will put forth the proposition here that risking one’s life and limbs to escape a crummy or even horrific home life is not the smart or right thing to do. There are other ways out of that and other ways to make a living, even in this rotten economy. We see too many young people graduating from the shitty publik skool systems and facing a wonderful choice of working at the local gas pumps, or joining the Army and getting pretty much automatically sent to the Suck or the Sandbox or some other foreign clusterfuck shit-hole where we don’t belong and where there is no just war being fought, often for multiple tours so as to increase the chances of returning badly crippled or in a box, or firing up a meth lab.

    The rest of my proposition is that it were far better to pump that gas than to come back blind, burned to a crisp or a double amputee or dead to a country and State that has no further use or need for you. And wishes it didn’t have to look at you and deal with you.

    OFD signed up to get away from home, get away from more school, learn a high-tech gig, get the G.I. Bill for college after, and see Europe. I missed out on the European thing, partly my own fault, and the high-tech thang was running all the small arms that the USAF possessed at the time against the Asian Communists. I came back with some fruit salad and decades of substance abuse and PTSD nightmares, also partly my fault and we are now good buddies with those Asian Communists, who still haven’t adequately accounted for the Allied POWs they took away and never gave back to us, and our government couldn’t possibly give a fuck less. Meanwhile two of our highest ranking gummint officials are over there hobnobbing with known murderers and cannibals, and are themselves pissant bullshit ‘Nam vets and a disgrace to the memory of the uniform and the flag.

    I can’t in good conscience go along with some kid now and tell him or her that their service is gonna be a wonderful thing. Because it’s not. And no matter what the recruiter tells them, or what promises are made, Uncle owns your ass, lock, stock and barrel and can put you in harm’s way in peacetime, wartime, for any reason at all or no reason at all and you have to eat it. That has redounding consequences on so many levels it boggles the mind.

  11. OFD wrote:

    “And don’t get me started on the guys we left behind in SEA, thanks to Herr Doktor Kissinger’s realpolitik and the wonderful Dick Nixon; probably worked to death as slaves in commie death camps in North Vietnam, Laos, and Red Chiner; some allegedly gone to Siberia, too. ”

    Yeah, one of the things Hitchens can be proud of is his book The Trial of Henry Kissinger. He and Ford left untold Vietnamese agents, gold, military equipment, etc to the Commies. They taught the rest of the world not to trust the word of the US Government. See also Frank Snepp’s Decent Interval. They screwed up royally and then papered over their tracks.

  12. I just unsubscribed from World of Warcraft. I’ve never enjoyed it, I just kept hoping I would learn to like it or it would get better. And in the latest patch they seemed to have remove the ability to submit problems that a GM could fix. Cost-cutting I suppose. Well, I got annoyed that I constantly had to use Google and wikis to work out how to do some of the obscure missions.

    I’ll see how I like Skyrim, Star Wars: The Old Republic (WoW with light sabres, I’m told) and Diablo III.

  13. Dave, I agree with your sentiments, but…

    Where they are is not the fault of our young people over in Iraq and Afghanistan. They go where they’re sent and do what they’re told. They have no choice, any more than you did. Blame the politicians for this mess, not the troops. And it doesn’t really matter to me why they chose to enlist. Enlist they did, and now they’re in the shit. Sending a box of stuff is just a small gesture, an attempt to make their lives just a bit easier.

    And we’re not doing it just for them. I told Barbara yesterday that when I was choosing a unit, I looked only at Marine units because I was thinking about her dad. I’m sure it’ll please Dutch that we’re doing a little bit to make the lives of other Marines a bit easier, and we’ll be doing it in his name.

  14. Agreed; for whatever bad reason/s, they chose to enlist and yes, now they’re in the shit, indeed. I’ll look at that site and see what’s what and have also been working with the local Legion post here about other stuff we can do locally, esp. with returning vets, of whom the State has washed its hands. Of no further use to Moloch’s machine.

    And we now have a third cousin going through Basic at Fort Benning, a really good and also smart kid; dunno what he was thinking. Two previous cousins did multiple tours in the Suck and Iraq and came back with obvious issues but no crippling injuries, thanks be to God. There are a couple of sites on the net that show facial portraits of soldiers, mainly from the U.S. and U.K., who’ve gone off to the various wars; Before, During and After shots; very interesting. It ain’t good, and as one person said in the comments at one site, these people are changed forever. Whether it was to get away from home, find better economic prospects, fight for the nation, or whatever; it is a very high price to pay.

  15. Yes, it is a very high price to pay.

    As you know, I’m about as non-interventionist as it’s possible to be. Hell, if it’d been up to me, I’d have stayed out of Europe in WWI and WWII, let alone Korea, SEA, and the Middle East. I’d withdraw all our troops from overseas this afternoon and demobilize them once they arrived home. But again, once the troops are deployed, whatever I think about them being deployed, it’s our moral and ethical obligation to support them.

  16. You have no doubt seen the libertarian arguments against supporting the troops, even after they’ve been deployed, right? I tend to agree with you, but the blood boils over the money we’ve already been forced to pay for these wars and the armed forces and yet we still have to pony up more on our own to make sure the kids are OK.

    As you also are no doubt aware, the Roman Catholic Church and several of its leading theologians over the past 1,000 years or so formulated a doctrine concerning “just war” and the circumstances where one might be fought in such a state. By my reckoning, *none* of the wars this country has fought, going back to the first one where I had an ancestor, was just. All could have been avoided, one way or the other, and who knows how many lives saved, lives not ruined, and economies not destroyed.

  17. OFD signed up to get away from home, get away from more school, learn a high-tech gig, get the G.I. Bill for college after, and see Europe

    So would you change your mind and not sign up now?

    My son would still sign up for his 4 + 4 = 8 years but he would not reup for all the tea in China. He signed up for love of country and to see the world a little more than he had previously. He still loves his country but, the honeymoon is definitely over. He is wiser now and came away with a deep appreciation for the Iraqi people.

    I would like to point out that the world is still dangerous and that the USA needs a standing Army, Marines and Navy. There will be wars and rumors of wars all of our lives and we must be prepared to defend ourselves. There will be belligerent and uncontrolled nations and so we must be willing to defend our citizens and property abroad (see Marine Corps hymn).

    So, what does that take? Probably about 1/4 to 1/2 of our current military. No Air Force (split between Marines and Army) except the guys in the silos, no fixed wing Carriers and a National Guard that cannot be federalized. After all, each state does need a militia for emergencies and the Guard fulfills that need.

    Fancy toys like the F-22 and F-35? Maybe the F-22 is needed as an F-15 replacement (interceptor) but the F-35 mission can be fulfilled by F-16s. Lots of them. Nuclear subs, you bet. Probably need to park all our carriers and replace them with more subs and fast attack destroyers. After all, in a real war, those carriers will all be sunk in the first 24 hours by wave riding missiles.

    In short, the USA needs a great defensive capability and a poor offensive capability. Taiwan, Japan, Germany, South Korea and all of our other 40+ protectorates need to swim on their own. It is time to cut all the apron strings.

  18. I’ll have a decent answer tomorrow (today), Lynn; too late now and I’m a tired old wimp about to crash. Quick answer is no, I would not sign up now, not for all the tea in China, India and Africa.

  19. My son would still sign up for his 4 + 4 = 8 years but he would not reup for all the tea in China.

    I don’t regret my time. I got to see and do things that would have been impossible, some illegal, in the civilian world.

    I re-upped for 4 years after serving 2.5 years of a 4 year hitch. I got a $10,000 re-enlistment bonus plus an extra $75 a month in pay. That was a lot of money in 1972.

    And the military paid to transport my household items (such as they were) plus shipped my car from Hawaii to my next assignment.

    At the end of that 6.5 years I re-upped again for four years fully intending to stay until 20 years. But I was made promises that were not kept. I also found out (along with six other and an officer whose career was destroyed) that truth is predicated on rank, not on facts. I refused to work with supposedly adult officers whose integrity was zero. Lying to protect their own butts without taking responsibility for their decisions.

    So after 10.5 years I got out. My paycheck immediately doubled. And that check from US included housing, food and uniform allowance so it was a true doubling of my pay. Best decision I ever made. I should have stayed in the active reserves for another 10 years and thus been able to draw a retirement. That was a mistake. But I was so disenchanted with the brutal cutthroat action by O-4 and above in their deception and poor judgement to keep or advance their careers that I just could not consider staying in the reserves.

    I don’t regret my first 8 years in the service. I had a great time, made good friends, did a lot of stupid stuff, and most importantly grew up.

    Would I advise it for people getting out of high school? Not a chance. The leadership has gotten even worse as the quality and integrity of the leadership has plummeted, starting with the bozo in, OFD’s words, Mordor. The military is fast becoming a place where those who cannot get, and survive in, other jobs make a career.

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