Had a dream last night...a vivid dream..a dream so real I woke up in a sweat. I was 19 years old and back in basic training aat Fort Benning. It was mail call and I got a letter from my parents. Then suddenly the letter blew up in my hands for some reason and my drill sergeant, SFC Barkus, gave me the dreaded "Come here YOU!" sound and proceeded to smoke me (copious push ups, squat thrusts, leg lifts) for having "contraband" bullets mailed to me...man, that sucked...even for a dream.
Of course to a soldier postal mail still is an important part of the "Four M's" you do not ever, ever mess with intentionally in regards to a soldier...
- Mama (either actual mother or spouse/significant other)
Yes, soldiers realize that sometimes the Army sucks and one or more of these will be screwed up, and yes they get bitter about it. While a personnel "pogue" type one of my biggest priorities was to correct those items I could on this list as quickly as possible. I used to have a motto (that I still follow to this day to a degree):
"You only have a limited time to help someone when it actually matter. You can fuck with them all you want at your leisure later if they are lying to you, but you only have one chance to get it right the first time."
This also correlated with another rule I lived by in Administration:
"You spend 90% of your time on 10% of your troops, of which 10% actually deserve it."
Yep, that's right. I figure I spent the majority of my time as an admin puke chasing windmills for other, higher ranking, individuals to make their NCOER/OER's look good, generating paperwork on worthless soldiers that couldn't go two days without being AWOL or doing some other Article 15 worthy deed or dealing with the proverbial "shit house lawyers" that knew it all because they had been E4's for more than a day and were sure they were being screwed over by the commander.
Anyway, getting back to the mail portion of this topic I started with..,
So in my dream I was back with E/2/19 at Fort Benning (I was there when the unit was originally called E/7/1 and we switched to regimental affiliations in our 5th or 6th week of training...talk about messing up your mail when you change addresses like that!!). And yes, I was a Sand Hill puke...all you Harmony Church guys cool it. Mail or the occasional phone call was very important to most of us. I remember getting to send my Red Cross post card and make my 30 second phone call home when I got to Ft. Benning (it was at like 12:30 am when I called my parents and woke them up and I don't think they totally got why I was calling in 30 seconds). Mail was the only link I had to the outside world, and it did not come fast or often enough from home for my tastes.
Of course life was different back then. This was in the 80's before the internet or cell phones had been invented or 24 hour cable news channels had caught on. We weren't electronically dependent on devices like people are today. Taking away cell phone privileges wasn't an option for my parents, nor for my drill sergeants. Apparently it is today. A couple of quick web searches confirmed what I thought I knew. Troops going through basic training ARE allowed to bring cell phones with them to BCT, but are restricted in using them. That is a bit unbelievable to me, but considering the cultural change that these devises have caused in our society since their introduction, understandable. I am glad that their use is regulated as I am sure that most troops with them in basic would probably spend time on them chatting or playing on them rather than getting rest as they should be doing after lights out.
Still, when you are deployed despite the prevalence of both cell phone usage by our troops and the availability of cyber cafes for chatting with loved ones via a cam, there still is nothing like getting that care package from home. A box of brownies, magazines and drawings from the kids at home always puts a smile on someones face.
Still, some soldiers don't have anyone at home to send them these types of packages to brighten their day half way around the world. For them the care package is something that is scavenged at the chow hall (yes, I am a old turd when it comes to some milspeak lingo still) or in the hallway at the barracks. Always having to pick through someone else's second hand offerings.
Lets change that.
Starting March 31st lets make a National Send a Soldier a Letter Day. Take a moment to send someone you may know overseas (whether in a combat zone or not) a message to let them know that they are appreciated. It would be cool if they went regular postal, but email means just as much sometimes. Ideally, it would be great to have a day where every soldier, marine, airman and sailor would be able to have a letter or message to read on its way overseas. I chose March 31st because its my anniversary, and I would like to recognize the sacrifices my wife made for me while I was deployed and the support she provided me from afar as well. Hug your spouse military folks, while you deploy they suffer as well.
If you want you can send a care package to a random troop via services like AnySoldier.com that will make at least one troop feel special for a bit overseas. It only takes a small donation of your time and money to make a soldiers day...and hopefully it will make yours as well.
Remember, all of the "4 M's" lead to the biggest "M" of them all....MORALE. Without morale our effort in the war against terror suffers. Its like the old saying goes..
For a want of a nail the horse was lost
For a want of the horse the rider was lost
For the want of the rider the battle was lost
For the want of the battle the war was lost
For the want of the war the kingdom was lost
and all for the want of a nail..
That "nail" is our front line soldier, sitting hot and dusty somewhere far from home doing his part. The best plan designed by the most brilliant generals still requires the little grunt at the front to do his part or it won't work. You can help him do his part by giving him the reassuring message that we care about him and his mission.
And if you're still having trouble with the entire horse and nail thing...maybe this will help..