When I was younger, I used to be solely of the opinion “Support the troops: Send them home!” And while that makes for a great bumper sticker, and a world without war would be wonderful, the complex realities are quite different.
Whether we like the war or not, war is happening. We have brave men and women willing to fight in it for their own reasons. I’m not that courageous nor that selfless. It makes me angry that so many of our young people are being sent to be hurt or killed for what I consider an unwinnable cause. But I don’t think any of this means we should support our troops any less.
I also know that some troops get inadequate supplies in basic needs.
Did you know, for example, some female soldiers have difficulty getting access to feminine hygiene products? This is to say nothing of the comforts of home — getting cards, a favorite snack, pleasure reading. Even those who aren’t in combat are away from their families and homes, and that’s got to get lonely.
Maybe my opinion simply changed with age. Maybe the change happened when I started working with veterans, both as clients and as co-workers. Maybe it’s a little of both. But I decided that even though I don’t agree with the war, I think every person deserves a little support, especially when they’re in such alien conditions.
I adopted my soldier out of a desire to provide some brightness in what might otherwise be an isolated situation. I write letters every week, and I plan on sending a few care packages as well, as my budget permits.
I don’t ever talk politics with my soldier, nor do I discuss my opinions on the war. I simply tell him, truthfully, that I hope he’s well.
Comments on I’m against the war, and I adopted a soldier
I think adopting a soldier is an AWESOME thing to do! My family headed up an adopt a soldier project with the Girl Scouts a few years ago. We specifically requested female soldiers (since it was for Girl Scouts) and people in positions to distribute to fellow soldiers. The whole service unit got involved and about every month or every other month we sent HUGE care packages (we’re talking 70 lb boxes which is the post office limit). It was nice to know that we were helping someone, or a lot of someones, feel a little more at home. Younger girls drew pictures and made cards for the soldiers, older girls wrote letters and my family took care of coordinating and packaging everything up to take to the post office. I hope you have a great experience with your adopt-a-soldier! I’m sure he appreciates it.
It looks like the website/organization you linked to, AAUSS, is going through some restructuring at the moment and is not accepting new applicants/adoptees. Do you know of other programs or organizations that do a similar thing and are trustworthy?
A few years ago a friend of mine was deployed to Iraq. While emailing with him it hit me how lonely it is for people to be that far away from home without much in the way of home comforts. So my family and I decided to adopt a soldier. We write regular letters and then pull together care packages when we can.
I’ve known a lot of soldiers. Hell, I married one. I think a lot of people would be surprised to find that in the military, just as outside of it, there’s a wide variety of opinions on why we’re at war and how we’re fighting that war. They aren’t all jingoistic bigots eager to blow the heck out of anyone who’s not a white Christian American. Not by a long shot. If you’re opposed to what the military is doing right now, you might be surprised to find out that some members of the military feel exactly the same way.
Deployment is rough on soldiers and on their families. Care packages always brightened my husband’s day when he was overseas. Cookies baked by someone who cares always taste better than anything they serve up at the DFAC. Books help pass the time when they’re not working and there’s no real source of entertainment. Little luxuries–lip balm, foot powder, moisturizer, comfy underwear, etc–make everyday life a little more bearable. And of course, Katz’s Deli in NY will send a salami to your boy (or girl or other) in the Army–and if they’re anything like my boy, they will LOVE it.
If you happen to know the family of a deployed soldier, they always appreciate a little help too, particularly company. Even someone with a lot of friends and a supportive family can feel isolated when their spouse or partner is deployed. When my husband was overseas, it meant a lot to me that my friends would invite me over for dinner, or on apple-picking excursions, or out for a beer, and would offer to share a hotel room with me at conventions. It meant fewer nights sitting at home with Netflix and my cat. Someone with kids would probably also appreciate a few hours of babysitting, so they can get out and run errands or have some fun, or even just spend some time on housework uninterrupted by children.
I’m against war, and I AM a soldier. You’re not alone.
I remember taking a class in college that was pretty much all about how a lot of the ideas of “hippies” and “veterans” are really wrong. Like the myth that veterans were spat on when returning home, and it was the “hippies” that were doing the spitting. Basically majority of the case against the myth was that most of the protesters were actually veterans themselves, and there were active programs of protesters sending care packages to soldiers. If there was spitting going on, the author pointed out, might of been pro-war/pro-americans spitting at protesters who might of been veterans.
It isn’t as black and white as some people make it seem.
My grandmother spat on and yelled abuse on soldiers returning from the Vietnam war, and so did many of her university peers (Aussie here). She is incredibly ashamed that she did this, but at the time she believed she was doing what any good “hippy”/peace-lover would do.