Today is Veteran’s Day, when we honor the men and women, past and present, who gave their time, service and sometimes their lives to protect our country. While I don’t agree with why we went to war in Iraq, I completely, with all my heart, support our brave troops. My dad was a very proud Lt. Colonel in the army. When he went back to civilian life, he remained in the army reserves, putting in time each year until he retired. When he passed away, he was buried in full uniform and had a military funeral.

So I’m happy to be able to do something in honor of Veteran’s Day. This post is a call for support for our troops. I’ve been a fan of Operation Gratitude for a few years. They send care packages to our troops. Carolyn Blashek, who orchestrates this wonderful organization, sent out a call for help today. I told her that I’d reprint some of it here. She also asked for people to write letters to the troops. They have a Letter Writing Contest. Our troops get lonely and letters help too!

Please forward this link to anyone who might care about helping our troops. If you have a church that might want to get involved, refer them to the Operation Gratitude website. If anyone wants the whole letter, just ask and I’ll forward it. So in honor of our veterans, here’s a condensed version of what Carolyn sent:

Dear Friends of Operation Gratitude,
Today, an absolutely amazing individual sent me a follow-up to a story I shared with you last year. His letter speaks far more profoundly than anything I could write. On September 26, 2007 he wrote:

HI Carolyn, Our unit will be leaving Iraq in a few weeks. I just wanted to thank you for your support of all soldiers over here. Your care packages helped lift morale here greatly and you should know you helped save the life of a young soldier.

We had a soldier who never got mail, care packages, or anything. He did not have much family and as it turns out was planning on committing suicide on Christmas, but because that soldier received your care package it was like a Christmas gift. It made the soldier change his mind. The soldier now writes letters and emails to folks whose names were in the box and the soldier’s attitude and outlook on life has really improved. This is not a story–it is true.

We found out when the soldier finally opened up and talked to the Chain of Command about what was going thru his mind and got help for his depression. Your care package made a major difference in a human life. Because of your organization, one less family received terrible news at Christmas time. This has been my third deployment here and I remember how on my first deployment, I almost never got mail and then received a care package from your group. It made me feel much better about being separated from my loved ones.” V/R, SFC J.S.

Today, he simply wanted to send me a brief update and ask again if there is anything he could do to help:

Hello Carolyn, It has been quite a while but I thought I would update you on the soldier whose life was saved by an Operation Gratitude care package. His work attitude and leadership skills have so improved that he has since been promoted to Sergeant and is currently a squad leader and “one of the best” in the platoon he is assigned to, I am told by his platoon sergeant. He has a steady girlfriend and just recently re-enlisted. If you had taken this soldier over a year ago and put him next to the soldier he has become you would swear it was two different people. And it was all due to a care package sent to a soldier by good people back in the states that he had never met before.

Please let everybody there know. As for me, I am leaving the service. Unfortunately, I had a run in with an IED that has ended my military career and left me pretty banged and burned up. I have been in recovery and had a few reconstructive surgeries over the last months. I only have three days left in service. Please continue helping those still over there and going over there. I know we are old news and a lot of folks back home are tired of the news there, but it is important that we not forget those who still serve. We have to remember and support them “until everyone comes home.”

Especially on this Veteran’s Day, now is the time to express our appreciation to the men and women of our Military who stand strong and stand guard to ensure our freedoms here at home and to promote the ideals of democracy around the world. Now is the time that you, too, can be part of their effort by supporting them on the front lines:

Thank you so much for your care packages and the inspiring words of support, faith, and encouragement you so graciously and lovingly put together and sent to our team in Afghanistan. It really does make a difference to us over here. As service members, we are called upon to leave behind family, friends, and the comfort of our homes to support our nation. Because we have so much, we also will sacrifice to give to those less fortunate. Some mistakenly believe people serve in the military because we love war; what they don’t realize is most of us serve because we love and cherish liberty and freedom and want everyone in the world to enjoy the same as we have in America. God bless you.” Sergeant C.S. and the whole ANA COMM ETT (Afghan National Army Communications Embedded Training Team)

Operation Gratitude is facing its most challenging year since its inception in 2003. Right now, 75% of the 70,000 Care Packages we wi
ll assemble for our troops will not reach them without your help. While our Corporate Product Donors have generously provided all the items we need for our care packages, our financial donations have dwindled to a trickle. Yet, our shipping expenses are higher than ever before at $9.30 for postage alone and more than $10 per package overall.

All donated funds are used for production and shipping expenses. We do not expend funds on overhead, fundraising campaigns, direct mail or advertising. We take no salaries. Every dollar donated directly supports our troops. Operation Gratitude sends a care package personally addressed to every deployed service member whose name we receive. We send 100,000–120,000 packages per year, which requires a cash budget of $1.2 Million/year. This Holiday Drive, we will assemble 70,000 care packages. Right now, we only have the funds to ship one-quarter of them.

We had a tip from an Iraqi child that we gave one of your beanie babies to, who let us know that bad people were making bombs in his neighborhood. The information he gave us led to a major terrorist cell being captured and countless lives being saved. You may not realize this, but we utilize everything you send–we do not waste a thing. Thanks again for what you do.” Captain D.A. US Air Force”

Nothing would be sadder than to have more than 50,000 fabulously full and completed care packages still sitting in our warehouse on Christmas Day. Fifty thousand Care Packages lovingly assembled by our dedicated volunteers that could not be shipped to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan solely because we did not have the funds for postage. We need your help to raise $500,000.00 this month to ship the care packages in time for the Holidays.

All donations to Operation Gratitude are tax deductible. Donations can be made by Credit Card through the Operation Gratitude website or by check payable to Operation Gratitude and mailed to:
Operation Gratitude
16444 Refugio Road
Encino, CA 91436

Today I urge you to partner with us once again to serve the courageous members of the United States Military, who risk life and limb to serve us. Your tax-deductible contribution during the Holidays will allow us to put smiles on the faces of our bravest Americans during a very difficult time away from home and loved ones. They and we will be forever grateful.

Thank you!
Carolyn Blashek
Operation Gratitude

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