This time of year, I am always reminded of the two most powerful emails I have received since the start of Operation Gratitude–they were written by the same person: a Staff Sergeant with whom I had worked in 2006 to send care packages to his entire unit. I’d like to share them again.
On September 26, 2007 he wrote:
Our unit will be leaving Iraq in a few weeks. I just wanted to thank you for your support of all soldiers over here. Your care packages helped lift morale here greatly and you should know helped save the life of a young soldier.
We had a soldier who never got mail, care packages, or anything. He did not have much family and as it turns out was planning on committing suicide on Christmas, but because that soldier received your care package it was like a Christmas gift. It made the soldier change his mind.
The soldier now writes letters and emails to folks whose names were in the box and the soldier’s attitude and outlook on life has really improved. This is not a story–it is true. We found out when the soldier finally opened up and talked to the Chain of Command about what was going thru his mind and got help for his depression.
Your care package made a major difference in a human life. Because of your organization, one less family received terrible news at Christmas time.
This has been my third deployment here and I remember how on my first deployment, I almost never got mail and then received a care package from your group. It made me feel much better about being separated from my loved ones. Is there anything I can do to help out? Your group has helped me so I think I should return the great favor. What can I do to help out? Send $$ donations? Just name it. V/R, SFC J.S.”
A year later, he wrote again with a brief update and to ask if there was anything he could do to help:
It has been quite a while but I thought I would update you on the soldier whose life was saved by an Operation Gratitude care package. His work attitude and leadership skills have so improved that he has since been promoted to Sergeant and is currently a squad leader and “one of the best” in the platoon he is assigned to, I am told by his platoon sergeant. He has a steady girlfriend and just recently re-enlisted.
If you had taken this soldier over a year ago and put him next to the soldier he has become you would swear it was two different people. And it was all due to a care package sent to a soldier by good people back in the states that he had never met before. Please let everybody there know.
As for me, I am leaving the service. Unfortunately, I had a run in with an IED that has ended my military career and left me pretty banged and burned up. I have been in recovery and had a few reconstructive surgeries over the last months. I only have three days left in service.
Please continue helping those still over there and going over there. I know we are old news and a lot of folks back home are tired of the news there, but it is important that we not forget those who still serve. We have to remember and support them “until everyone comes home.”
Take care and you once sent me an address where I could mail contributions. Could you send it again? I have lost it along with all my belongings and papers from Iraq. Take care and God bless. SFC (for another 72 hours) J.S.
Reading his email, I was thrilled to learn about the newfound success of the soldier who had contemplated suicide. It wasn’t until J.S. revealed his own “run in with an IED” that I started to cry. I realized that life-changing incident happened only days, maybe hours after he emailed us last year. I was pained to think about the year he just experienced. But then, I admit to you, I completely lost it when he asked me how he could help us
After reading his words I was an emotional wreck for the rest of the day. Here was a wounded Warrior, whose own life took a devastating turn, who felt it was so important that we comprehend the impact of our packages, that he sent us an email 3 days before his final separation from the military urging us to continue our mission.
A Warrior whose own career had abruptly ended, but who felt compelled to donate his personal funds to make sure that his compatriots still received our care packages.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized
and tagged Afghanistan
, care packages
, community service
, Military support
, Operation GRatitude
. Bookmark the permalink