I "adopted" a soldier in Afghanistan in a letter-writing effort last fall. It was a project put together to focus on soldiers who had, for whatever reason, not received any mail from home since their arrival there.
How sad it that thought?
Some might wonder if this lack of comfort from home is due to them being a jerk - but I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I tend to think the best of others. Maybe these guys are buttholes as people and that's why nobody cares enough to write to them. On the other hand, maybe their families are the buttholes. Maybe they just don't have families. Maybe their friends don't write because the art of longhand correspondence is dying out. Whatever the case may be, it's sad to think of these kids fighting for freedom in a distant land, a whole world away from all they know, with seemingly no one who cares enough to say hey. It tugs at the heart to think of his buddies getting letters and packages while he gets nothing at mail call, ever.
How utterly lonely that must feel.
It was made clear that it would probably be a thankless job. The soldiers are crazy-busy over there and may not have the time or the energy to be good return pen pals. Most who take on the adoptions never hear back from their soldiers. But enough word gets back that regardless of whether we hear from them or not, no volunteered letter is ever taken for granted. No heart goes untouched to know that complete strangers care and are praying for their safety.
I knew nothing about my soldier but his name and position in his branch. But since I'm a Chatty Cathy, I just started writing - introducing myself and telling him about things going on back home. From time to time I sent a care package: small games like dice and decks of cards, puzzle books, candy at Halloween, bright pressed leaves during autumn, Girl Scout cookies at Cookie Time. But mostly I just sent letters - always making sure to thank him for his service let him know I was praying for his safety.
The other day, a letter I'd written in April was returned to me. It had been opened, and on the front was written in lovely ladies' penmanship to forward it back to me. No other details were noted.
I wondered if the letter had been sent to the wrong post, but it didn't really make sense that it would be sent back to me and not re-routed to him. I wondered if something had happened to the soldier. I wondered if his tour was over and he'd gotten to come home.
I've decided to think that he's now home.
I'll probably continue to write a few more letters just to make sure it wasn't a fluke - I'd hate to stop writing altogether if he's still over there. But for his sake, I hope he's home.
I hope that my small-talk letters have made his time away from American soil a little less monotonous. I hope I helped him feel appreciated back in the states. I hope the remainder of his life is filled with peace and contentment.
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Sort-of Update: My good buddy Coffeypot provided me with this link which lists all reported servicemen killed in action related to Project Enduring Freedom. I'm happy to learn my soldier is not on this list! It is heartbreaking, however, to see the names and faces of those who are. There are soooo many. The majority are just babies. Some still have adolescent acne. Please take a moment to pray for the safety of our servicemen each night. They are offering the ultimate sacrifice.
"All gave some - Some gave all."
6 days ago
oh please let us know if you find out anything. it takes a great love to keep writing and sending things with no response at all. i doubt i'd be able to keep it up for long. i'd like to think i would, but i doubt it really.
Clew, getting a letter from you would brighten any hardass's day.
Not hearing from home is only bad if you miss whatever is there. Mostly those guys thrive off living with their fellow troops who are going through the same things they are. A very close bond.
But regardless of his difficult times, he should still have the courtesy to respond, even if it’s to tell you to fuck-off. Others are responding to home, he can find the time, too. But I do hope he is okay. Even assholes deserve to come home.
Clew, I've still never heard a thing from my soldier, either. I'm like you...I choose to believe he's okay. He may be a butthole, but he's an American butthole doing a crappy job so I'll just keep on writing and telling him thanks.
And maybe like I've mentioned before...he's just a part of the younger generation that seems not to have been taught manners so has no clue about thank you notes. Still it would have been nice to get just one...saying thanks and if he'd said he was too busy to write more, then cool.
Very kind gesture...Just b/c someone is alone, a loner, or however you want to put it doesn't mean they are in some way an a-hole. I'm a loner and am afraid of relationships w/people b/c I've been burned so much. So this guy may find solace in his military buddy relationships b/c he knows they put their life on the line for him. And back home people don't go that far, so it's a less trusting environment.
You know when some soldiers came home from Vietnam, they were mistreated and their true acceptance came from those they fought with in the service. Those people became more like family than their real families.
My perspective may not even hold truth in this case but at least it is a different view of what may be the possible situation.
I'm sure he and other soldiers enjoy letters, gifts from strangers back home. Their investment may be a smile and warm thought of whoever this kind person is. Perhaps that is as much of an investment as they feel comfortable in making. Your kind act bears fruit even if you don't see the harvest. Hugs!
I enjoy writing letters, but I honestly don't know if I could write to someone without any response. It's stuff like this that really makes me think a bit deeper into my own being. Thank you for this and thank you again and again for writing to that soldier and for letting him know that he matters.
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