Make A Soldier Smile

Before I tell you all about my day, let it be known that I have absolutely no affiliation or advertising agreements with Soldiers’ Angels.  In fact, they have no idea I am posting this.

Actually, there’s only one person who even knows me and he’s in Afghanistan right now.

And for future reference, please know that I don’t talk to anyone before I hit “publish”.

Just ask Miss MacGyver, who I texted in a panic after posting yesterday.

To let her know she’s on my blog.

That’s just how I post.

Today I put together a care package for a soldier in Afghanistan whom I have never met.

Care Package For Our Soldier

It’s really easy to do and it makes someone smile.

I like for people to smile.

Care Package Goodies

And you know me.  I always have something to say.

This is an opportunity for me to write a letter.  woohoo!

Letter To My Soldier

The post office makes it relatively painless to ship to service members.

Yea, I know!  The USPS making anything easy?

A total shock, right!?

Get the military One-Rate boxes and the shipping slips delivered to your house ahead of time.

$12.95 ships this box-o-smiles.

You’re lucky if you get a chance to talk to your soldier.

And I’m a lucky girl!

My soldier got in contact after about 50 25-page letters.  I write big, OK?

My first question was, “what do you need!?”

I was shocked when he said BOOKS!

The military has a special place in my heart.

One of my fondest childhood memories was watching my Daddy talk about the Army.  His face would light up every time.  He carried his Army ID in his wallet until the day he died.  He took it out of his wallet and looked at it with me at least 1 million times during my childhood.

Daddy always said the same thing about that Army ID because he was a creature of habit and loved to repeat himself.  At the end he would always tell me about how he was given an Honorable Discharge because one leg was longer than the other.

Later in life my Daddy would have a leg amputated.  It was a terrible situation with tragic circumstances as you might imagine.

But I just couldn’t resist asking him the question.

And it might have been my first question to him after the amputation.

“Well.  Did they get the long one or the short one?”

When I was still a teenager, I seriously considered enlisting in the military.  Maybe because of that Army ID.  I’m not sure.

Two things held me back.  I had family counting on me.  Leaving them behind felt like abandonment.  I had Yoda (he was just a pup back then).  Leaving him felt like abandonment.

And I’ve got some serious abandonment issues that I have accepted as part of my character that will be with me for the rest of my life.

I’m not whinin’.  I’ve got a great life now and everyone in my family made it out alive.

But if I did enlist, I would have gone into the Navy.

I love the water and everything that has to do with water.

You hear me?  I love it.

John was my classmate who wanted to be a Navy Seal.  I lost touch with that guy.  Last time I heard from him he was signing the papers.  John probably did train to be a Navy Seal cuz he was bad ass like that.

We spent most of Mythology class chattin’ about Black Belt Karate and the military.  Because he was a Black Belt, you know.  I grew up with 5 brothers and enough testosterone to choke a horse but even I, the country girl who could hold her own in a pine cone fight and win a foot race barefoot on gravel.  As that girl, I was raising an eye brow at some things John talked about.

I knew John well before that Mythology class.  He was the older brother of my good friend Jenny.  When Jenny and I were 12-years-old Jenny’s mom organized an outdoor camping sleep-over for Halloween.  There were 6 of us girls with a tent in the back yard and John camped out in the front yard with his friends.

My girlfriends and I sat up all night playing a Ouija board game, drinking soda and trying on lipstick while John and the other boys attacked one another with makeshift weapons in the front yard.

They went all out with their face paint, crazy head band contraptions and camo clothes.

And combat boots.  They all wore combat boots.

That was John’s kind of party.  During Mythology 101 he dreamt aloud about training to parachute from helicopters with weapons on his back and landing in murky waters.  He was so convincing in explaining how Navy Seals is the best of the best because Navy Seals encompasses all the skills of each branch of the military.

I have no idea if he knew what he was talking about.  All I know is he got a glimmer in his eye and a conviction in his voice that told me he was serious and this is what he would be doing.

I remember this exact quote, “John, you’ll make a damn good Navy Seal.”  And I meant it.

After that he explained how a compass works and then we talked about Zeus and Phaethon.

Fast forward 150 years.  I’m sitting here in my frumpy nightgown t-shirt.  Totally beat from a day of being Mom.  Ready to zone out because if I have to wipe another nose, make another snack or change another diaper I might go Navy Seal on someone’s ass cry.

On tivo I find the Oprah Show talkin’ about military families.

Did you see it?

It was many moons ago.

I was moved by the families and their stories.

I wanted to help.

Who wouldn’t?

I looked into different options for a while and finally figured out a way to help someone else.

A complete stranger.

My favorite people to help mostly because it is totally unexpected and I can go on with my life believing they will pay it forward.  And I’m sure a lot of them do.

Soldiers’ Angels is a fantastic organization.

As of TODAY, this is the number of soldiers available “for adoption”.

Soldiers’ Angels was started by a mom who was sending packages to her deployed son.  The mother’s deployed son noticed that some soldiers never received anything from back home.

This mom began sending packages to some of these deployed service members and the organization grew quickly as more people volunteered to do the same.

You can read more about their compelling story here.

Adopting a soldier is super duper easy.  There’s a verification process which you can read more about on their website (here).

I was matched with my soldier in about 6 minutes.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about that leg.  They got the short one.

One last time for good measure:  I have absolutely no affiliation or advertising agreements with Soldiers’ Angels.

Comments

  1. Lora Schwartz says:

    I thank you for helping to spread the word about Soldier’s Angels – I love the organization. I have been a member since 2008.

    I can’t say enough about SA – the Free Mail that I get occasionally is out of this world. I just wish I could adopt them all!

    Thanks for your support.
    Happy 4th of July

  2. Faith Baillargeon says:

    As a mother of three children who are all in the service, one Marine, and two Army. I thank you for your kindness. I always made sure my children got plenty of packages from home and I also have an adopted soldier that I send packages to on a regular basis. They love getting stuff from home and the letters really keep their moral up. They are all truly hero’s, and should be treated that way, sending packages from home is the least we as American’s can do………keep up the great work.

  3. Debra Estep says:

    Denise,

    YOU ROCK !!!!!

    So awesome of you to adopt a soldier AND to write
    about it in such an ~eloquent~ way !!!!

    I LOVE YOU !!!!

    I’ve been a proud Air Force Mom for 8 years and 8 months.
    My SSgt son Vinny has served in Iraq and he’s done 2
    two year tours in S. Korea.
    Personally I have been sending CARE PACKAGES since the
    Spring of 2003. Just recently I actually joined Soldiers’ Angels.

    I was thrilled to see Oprah have on Michelle Obama and Jill Biden.
    Our military NEEDS the support of America !!!!

    BLESS YOU for sharing about Soldiers’ Angels.

    Here is ANOTHER way to show support.

    Lets Say Thanks – (AND IT’S *FREE*)

    “To honor U.S. military personnel and increase community morale, Xerox Corporation has created Let’s Say Thanks, a national program designed to deliver millions of cards to servicemen and women overseas with messages of support from home.”

    http://www.letssaythanks.com/Home1280.html

    1 more thing… I drew an Angel & Soldier
    From this link you can find a downloadable Word doc.
    You might include these to your soldier. :)

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/57437984/Angel-of-Protection-Small

    Sincerely,
    Debra

  4. Jennifer Kruszewski says:

    I am also a member of SA, and anysoldier.com. I love helping out and I love reading posts of other people helping out. Our soldiers do this voluntarily, and the least we can do as Americans is to send something from home and make sure our soldiers and their families are taken care of. Thanks to all that make the sacrifice for us and our country, and thanks to all of those who take the time to care back for our military! God bless America!

  5. Ember says:

    I’m a proud Soldiers’ Angel with four “Officials” who are safe at home, and two still deployed. Thanks so much for this post! Wingtip to wingtip ’til they all come home!

  6. Mari says:

    Beautifully written post! – and isn’t it like a Bubble of Happiness when you finally hear that Your Soldier/Airman/Navy is well and staying safe

    Pax
    [Downunder & SA member since 2009]

  7. Vicky Perreault says:

    What a cool thing! Who knew? We will have to do this. Thanks for speading the word.

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