If you follow the news you may have seen that 6 more of our troops have been killed in battle in the last 24 hours. My heart aches for their families and their battle buddies. As my son is deployed on his third tour of the Middle East my anxiety level has risen considerably. I'm sure his has as well.
He called home today with some requests for his next care package; peanut butter, a loaf of bread and wet wipes. Are those the top three things on your wish list?
I don't think that most of us can begin to understand the life of a soldier or Marine. Sleeping in a tent, or a conex box if you're lucky, eating pre-packaged food every day, tolerating 109 degree heat every day. The closest thing to kissing your daughter goodnight is leaning over to the computer screen connecting you with Skype. Admiring your son's baseball trophy on an internet connection must feel bittersweet.
The actual touch of a human being whom you love is missing and the phrase "Out of touch" takes on a whole new meaning. Loneliness, fear and anxiety are frequent companions. In spite of all of this, they carry on.
As a private citizen there are only a few tangible things I can do to provide them comfort. The first, to constantly remind our community that we have many Americans in harms' way every single day, far from home, walking a path that we cannot, will not or do not. And the second is to keep the care packages going to our local deployed troops every month.
Our community has come through time and again to keep them supplied with socks, beef jerky, gum, wet wipes, trail mix, crackers, canned food and more. If you feel it in your heart to help, there is a postage project posted on Gulfcoastgives.org for Manasota Operation Troop Support. It costs $13.45 to mail each package to a local deployed military troop in Afghanistan or Kuwait. MOTS currently serves 47 troops from our area.
If you know of a troop currently serving in the Middle East with ties to Manatee or Sarasota County, please help us serve them by providing us with their information. MOTS has served more than 300 troops and their families over the last five years and we can only find these troops through word of mouth, there is no master list.
As Director of MOTS I know for a fact that this show of support really does make a difference to our troops. I met a young soldier this week who had been receiving our packages until he came home from Afghanistan last month. He wanted to thank me in person for "every single thing in those packages." And then he cried as he told me that he always shared it with his friends. I do hear that a lot.
We hugged and chatted and everything else buzzing around in my brain faded into the background. It was my greatest reward as a soldier's mom and as an American citizen. So I will continue to spread the message that there is a way to share with our soldiers and I welcome all of those who feel the same way to contact us at MOTS. Call 941-782-0748 and we can work together to show our soldiers that we care.
Linda Craig, Director, Manasota Operation Troop Support , a 501 (c) 3 organization