I've been adopting deployed Soldiers as a volunteer with Adopt-a-Platoon (“AAP”) for over five years (almost six, give or take), and I have to tell you that it is a WONDERFUL experience! It is hard to describe the feelings that go along with supporting a Soldier ~ the personal satisfaction of doing something for someone else, the bond you form with your "son" or "daughter" (even when you *never* hear from them, you still get amazingly attached!), a deeper appreciation of the sacrifice so many make on our behalf, and yes, even awful fear and *much* "maternal" worry as we listen to the news and hear of "our" Soldiers being in harm's way during this time of war. We do not just merely send letters ~ we give our hearts and souls to serving these brave men and women who so courageously serve us. We cry with each other when we hear of a loss, we encourage each other and comfort each other when we fear for "our" Soldier's safety. AAP is more than a volunteer organization ~ it is a close-knit "family" with a huge and loving heart.
During my years with AAP, I have had the honor of supporting several Soldiers: First, before the war, two Soldiers in Kosovo, followed by (after the war) four or five (at least) in Iraq. My first adopted Soldier in Iraq was adopted by our family right before the war began ~ I had the incredible privilege of supporting a 1 Lt. with the 3rd Infantry, 3rd Division ~ the same guys that stormed into Baghdad and took it! This was back during the “Shock & Awe” days… and believe me, I didn’t sleep hardly at all for worry about my “son” and his unit. I about collapsed from relief when I heard they were going home! I never heard a word from him either during or after his deployment, but I still feel honored to have had a small part in his world, hopefully bringing a bit of joy into a dark place.
Since that time, I have continued to adopt Soldiers and Marines (and once, even someone from the Air Force!). I have recently become involved with two other wonderful organizations similar to AAP: Angels ‘n Camouflage and Web of Support. Of late, I have been requesting specifically to be assigned Soldiers and Marines who are serving in high-combat areas. My heart has been broken as I hear of fallen hero after fallen hero… and I want to do SOMETHING to provide a bit of extra encouragement and TLC to those who are out there on the front lines…literally. I cannot fight ~ but I can support and encourage those heroes who DO, at least in the small way I can. It’s not much, but I can assure you…my lill letters and cards are not half-hearted… they are filled to overflowing with love and gratitude and good ole American pride! I wish I could do so much more… but what I can do, I do, to the best of my ability.
Supporting Soldiers and Marines in the middle of the war makes the whole thing even more real and personal in a profound way. It’s not just faceless names on the news… these are MY guys and MY gals out there… they’re talking about MY TROOPS on the news!!! Is it hard on my nerves? You better believe it!!! I constantly watch the news and check the “Fallen Warriors” list, trying to make sure all my “kids” are OK. How many nights have I lost sleep, worrying, praying and even crying a time or two (or three, or four or five) for my “kids?” But how could I NOT support these heroes?? My adopted Soldiers - and thousands more - are risking their lives to keep our nation safe and free. Sending letters and sharing news of home with a Hero so far away is such a tiny thing ~ yet it makes an incredible difference to these guys and gals!
Once in a very great while, we will get a response from one of our Heroes. And always, without fail, it reinforces my resolve to continue doing everything in my power to “SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!” It is amazing the difference something as simple as a letter can make! Imagine being surrounded by the horrors of war and death and fear and rage…imagine working 16, 20 or more hours a day, every day, far away from home and family… missing holidays and other important events… and the only tangible contact you have with home is whatever comes in the mail.
Yes, it’s THAT important.
The troops ~ our heroes ~ need all the love and support and encouragement they can get!!! I hope that everyone reading this will do what they can to show support for these wonderful, courageous heroes working, fighting, and giving their all for our freedom!