Written by a US Service member, currently stationed in Afghanistan
Among the terrible things I have seen and the mental stress this deployment has brought me, a few shining lights of hope have come through the fog of war. What I speak of are the wonderful men and women who take the time to send their love and support to people they have never met. They do this for no other reason than to show that they have heart. These wonderful people bring smiles into not just my life, but to most of the 70,000 troops in Afghanistan today.
We don't ask for much. I myself tell my own wife that she sends me too many packages.
We think of home all the time and the people we love. We spend every minute of every day wishing we were home amongst our loved ones. We wait for hours just to talk to our families for minutes. I have been on four deployments now, and by far this is the hardest on me. Not because I'm exposed to enemy fire. Not because I'm struggling physically. I've been in those situations and they do not even come close to the pain I feel from being away from my wife.
The only respite I get from the violence and horrors of war are the heartwarming letters and gifts that I receive from not only my family, but from total strangers who reach out and make our lives just a little bit less miserable. They have a special gift. That gift is empathy. They look at things from our perspective and react the only way they know how. They show us that America is still the best place in the world to live. They show us that our country will support us, no matter what. This was not always the case in our history. I feel for the Vietnam veterans who came home to be spit on by the very people they swore to protect with their lives. If they had the same support that my generation has, many of them would have had an easier adjustment to civilian life. In my time in the military, I have known nothing but a nation at war. I have been on the receiving end of enemy fire many times and have been decorated by my nation for the bravery I've shown on the battlefield. In my heart, I know that those of you that take the time to make just a little bit of difference in our lives, you are the heroes.