Talking to the troops

I’m sorry to say that, for me, “the troops” have always been somewhat abstract, not because I don’t respect and admire them, but because I really don’t know any troops.  Living in my Marin bubble, where the military is anathema to the average person, you simply don’t have a large number of people entering the service, nor do you have a large number of military personnel wandering around the streets.  When I do get the opportunity — usually at airports in other states — I always go up and thank the troops I see, but that’s the extent of my interactions with them.  Otherwise, my military friends are people I’ve met through my blog.  They have no faces; they just have wonderful voices.

Today, though, I learned that I can make a little dent in that abstraction, as can you, through an email program One Marine’s View is offering.  Major Pain describes some Marines currently serving in Iraq:

We have a large group of Marines currently located in a remote area of Iraq.  Mail might arrive once a week if the fates are with them, and water is obtained from a well on site. These are your Marines, living on the edge of the empire, alone and determined to succeed.  They don’t live in Fallujah, they don’t have a PX or a store.  They operate with the bare bones and a can do attitude.  Adapt and overcome are the pillars of their structure, while rebuilding in an insurgent filled area.  Police stations are built and governed by Lt’s, and life and death decisions are made by 20 something year olds.

They sleep in WWII era wooden huts and sleeping bags, as the constant blowing dirt finds its way into everything they own.  They cherish the basic things most take for granted in the states. Operating flawlessly in the 100+ weather is not the exception, it’s the expected. They are a tight group that redefines the phrase, “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy”.

One Marine’s View has now set up a special email address:  dirtpeople@gmail.com.  What makes that email address special is this:

Sending in an email will give OMV the right to publish it in any format, thereby allowing me to publicly post them all.  This way many will benefit from your support, instead of just a couple.  Please take just a few minutes to let your Marines know how proud you are of their outstanding service, and incredible spirit.

I’m planning on sending my email right now.  How about you?

By the way, Maj Pain suggests something more than the “thank you” I try to pass out in airports, and urges something more along the lines of a dinner conversation.  I’m chatty.  I think I can do that.

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  • Ymarsakar

    By the way, Maj Pain suggests something more than the “thank you” I try to pass out in airports, and urges something more along the lines of a dinner conversation. I’m chatty. I think I can do that.

    Usually the gratitude and greeting of choice amongst men is buying the one you wish to pay your respects to, a drink at the local pub.

    You might also adopt the military geography strategy, which is to ask them their unit, MOS, how their tour went, what their commanders were like, how it felt to be back in the states, and ending with an appreciation of their dedication and loyalty to the US.

  • Ymarsakar

    Blackfive is also asking for letters of support to one particular Marine, Book.

    http://www.blackfive.net/main/2008/06/marine-jailed-f.html

  • pondering penguin

    Matt at Blackfive rocks. He does terrific things over there.

    My husband, world traveler,and a Vietnam vet who remembers less than friendly welcomes home, always offers to buy a military guy in uniform a beer or pick up their food tab in an airport restaurant or bar. Sometimes he sees guys in uniform at a lunch joint by his office and will pick up the tab – if he isn’t beaten to it by another patron. Lots of people are catching on to the fact that support and thanks can be shown with little effort. That’s the best part.

    Good post.

    I support Books for Soldiers and also, with my monthly order to Boca Java a donation of a couple of pounds of coffee are sent overseas to troops. All the little stuff adds up if everyone gets involved.

  • Duchess of Austin

    I sent one! Here’s the body of it…

    This is just a short note to tell you how much this ordinary American appreciates your service to our country. I am past the age where I could join up myself (I was rejected in peace time in the 80s for being 5 pounds overweight, but I tried!), and I strongly support our volunteer military. I commend and thank each and every one of you who felt it your duty to serve your country.

    These are the times that try men’s souls, and your courage in the face of overwhelming odds and the possibility of the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of your country makes me proud every day to be an American. Whatever the leftists in other countries may say about us, we know we are the most generous, faithful friends any of our allies could have and it really burns me that some of them don’t appreciate our loyalty as much as they could.

    Take heart, brave warriors, those of us left behind do think of you and your gift of service to a country where some do not appreciate the gift of freedom that your selflessness provides for them. They will regret it, eventually, and come to see that freedom is not always free, and for them to enjoy the lives they do requires men and women like you, patrolling our lands and those of our allies with guns, protecting us from those who would see us on our knees with a sword to our throats.

    I am a 48 year old, single woman whose male family members have served in our military when their time came, and did so with honor. I, for one, salute you and thank you most humbly for your contribution to our national safety.

    May God bless you all!

  • NavyOne

    Bookworm,

    As one who loves the written word, I feel like you converse with me nearly daily.

    I don’t often write comments, but I rarely miss reading your blog.
    Thanks. . .

  • Ymarsakar

    An interesting ice breaker would be asking them what kind of additional training in the use of applied violence they have gotten given the rise of crime and assassinations of military members here in the States.

    Military members often find it hard to talk about their careers to civvies because civvies have the wrong background and cultural template for military affairs. It’s not just the Acronymns either.

    There’s some kind of civilian angst they don’t want to deal with, though. Like the usual “they came back from the war all different and stuff and we don’t know how to handle that”. Is he different cause he has seen the elephant and is glad to be back in the greatest nation on Earth where people don’t off each other simply because they are not related by blood? Is it because they have finally seen how apart humanity could grow simply by having an experience in Iraq, amongst Iraqis, or in Afghanistan, amongst Afghans? These are the questions civilians will not ask because they cannot usually comprehend that there’s an answer. If you can’t even consider the existence of an answer to a question, you will not ask the question.

    Did you kill anyone? The civilian angst of living in a well manicured and manufactured life chafes people raw and provides them a motivation for the foreign, the alien, and the progressive. They want to know if you ever killed anyone, if you ever conducted real violence, if you ever shot someone, for those are the forever taboos of today’s society. Real violence, real defense against evil, real action. They are taboo. And the military does not really want to deal with such civilian angst after doing some actual productive work where ever they were deployed.

    For others, perhaps it is because they don’t know how to describe their experiences. They haven’t had the time to contemplate things given the compression of action and time during their tour, where ever day something needed to be done rather than something needed 24 hours to think about, as is true in the States.

    Let’s have a meeting for 5 days and then decide. No, that’s not really how the military does things.

    For still others, it is too sharp a mental shift. They had just prepared themselves to shift from a military, kill or be killed, obey orders or be court martialed, mentality into a civiilan mentality. Now they are asked to go back to the military mentality again to draw upon their experiences. Not particularly a productive use of a soldier’s time who is trying to re-phase his mind back into a lovvy, dovvy, non-violent civilian.

    But self-defense and martial arts are something almost all Marines are intensely interested in. Violence is the name of the game and they don’t forget about it simply because they became civilians. Firearms is also a popular topic amongst the general military, although not everybody in the military, perhaps not even the infantry branches, are enamored of firearms.

    Then again, some military people back from tours want to go back because of their friends, okay most military people, and they found their tours to have given them a purpose, a purpose not found in civilian life. For those people, asking about their prefered response to criminal violence would be an excellent discussion, for protectors can still protect even if they are stripped of their uniforms and chain of command.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Thank you, NavyOne!