Service morale and support

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Nomad, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I have a very good friend whose son just left for Iraq.
    They have a large family and the entire family met together during the deployment time.
    This took place in another state.
    Now, she and her husband are back home. Most of the family went their separate ways...other states, etc.
    She and her husband have some other stress in their lives (to make things more complicated).
    My friend is a wonderful person. Very giving, patient and kind. I can count on probably three fingers the number of people who have truly helped me with difficult child and she is one of the three...helping me the most.
    It is obvious when I talk with her that she is under significant stress.
    AND, I don't know if it is my imagination or not 'cause I normally watch little news, but it seems to me that in the last few days, I have heard more stories about violence and deaths in Iraq.

    Primary Question (s):
    For those of you who are very close to this situation, can you give me some up close and personal advice on what I might say to her to make her feel better? Also, will I be able to email him (her son) and will he be able to write back? How often? How practical is this?

    A second question:
    During the Vietnam conflict/war....we saw lots of footage of what was going on. Why is it that we do not see photos/footage of Iraq for the most part?

    Thank you.
    Lasted edited by : Oct 27, 2009
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We still see plenty of footage of the Iraqi and Afghanistan war. I think we have just become somewhat numb to what we are seeing. Any mother or wife or father or husband who has someone over there notices the news stories every day.

    Iraq has gotten a whole lot more stable despite what we are hearing in the last couple of weeks. This whole flare up is due to the upcoming election and the troublemakers are striking early.

    Afghanistan is a much worse problem. It worries me more. I dont know how we are going to win a war against small villages spread out over miles and miles and the whole country is controlled by a government funded by opium. In order to do this, we have to look the other way and allow them to continue grow and produce heroin and ship that heroin to our streets. I dont know how we can do that as US citizens. Especially ones who took an oath to hold up the constitution of the United States of America.
  3. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I don't know anything about accesability to email etc. However I do know that snail mail is much coveted, as are small care packages. Practical things obviously, but also silly things that can be fun. Small games, whoopy cushions, silly putty, etc. If the packages are fairly small, they aren't all that pricey. I do know that if you have a military base nearby, often the military family resource centers will provide the shipping for packages being sent to members stationed in conflict zones. Here in Canada it is so wonderful because anybody can go in to ship a package, regardless of how large. I shipped a box that weighed over 100lbs at no cost. Made it so much more fun as I was able to spend more money on little trinkets etc. It really didn't cost me much. I also included used books and stuff from home that could be enjoyed by the person I sent it to (it went to a US marine, although it was coming from me in Canada) and then shared with others based with them. I'm betting those books got lots of reading!

    I think its great of you to be concerned after your friends and their son. I don't know if theres a right way or a wrong way to support them or speak to them about this. Listening to their concerns is a given. Telling them that you are proud of their son and what he is doing is a good approach. Asking if its okay to send him email or a snail mail letter or card or whatever will show them you stand with him and with them. Just be their friend :) .
  4. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    I don't know that there's really anything you CAN say to her to make her feel better. Her baby is in a war zone....I don't think anything will make her feel better until he's home safe and sound.

    As for the email, as I understand it from friends who have been's going to really depend on what his job is, how much free time he has and how much acess he has to a computer. Mattsmom has a point, it may be better to send letters/packages through the mail. Although, if he has an email addy, you could email and ask if he's going to be able to respond fairly regularly. If he gets back to you, it could take days if not weeks so don't be too impatient. It really just depends on what I said earlier...where, what, etc. Another thought on that....usually when the guys/gals get a minute to check email, they will usually respond to parents/spouses/SO's/children first. It's not that they don't care about other's but those people are their top priorities, Know what I mean??

    I knew a guy in the military who, even though he wasn't overseas, didn't have much free time. I sent him a letter once and with it, included a letter back to me from him and a SASE. All he had to do with the return letter was check boxes. I wrote it as it was coming from him but put fairly general sentences and then multiple choice endings for the sentence. Example: Hey
    'Stang, things are ___Good ____Busy ____boring here. I've been ____busy ____ sleeping ____on the pot (twisted sense of humor I've got).

    He checked the appropriate boxes, wrote a few words and then mailed it back to me.

    THat may be something to think about. If you send him a box or letter, make it easy for him if he doesn't have much time. Put addressed envelopes in the package or even a fill in the blank letter. Another thing about care packages....this may have changed but when a friend was over there, his wife told me that anything pork related was a big no-no. Pork rinds, hotdogs with pork (not that I would consider sending hot dogs but you never know)...things like that. I'm also thinking that soldiers over there don't require postage but I could be wrong...I'm trying to find something about that online but no luck so far. However, if you google "care packages for soldiers" you get all sorts of links and ideas.

    [ame=""]what to put in care packages for soldiers - Google Search[/ame]
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Oh, my... I feel so badly for her and her family. I don't pretend to know the answer to what the right thing to say or do for this particular situation is, other than what I would feel right saying or doing in any situation where a friend is hurting. Ask if they are ok, and let them know that you are there if they need them.

    Part of the answer to your first question lies in the answer to your second question. I'll kind of bunch them together on this part. The violence you have been hearing about is happening for the most part in Afghanistan. There was a terrible set of bombings in Kabul yesterday, but most of the guys in Iraq have been reporting boredom up until this week. Afghanistan, on the other hand, has been in the news almost daily with violence. There is a request from the general in the field to send 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, so I'm sure there's some anxiety there.

    As to why we never hear anything at home, it was decided when these wars were started that we would never see any body bags, footage of violence/battles, or military/civilian discord on the news at home because it might lower our morale at home and we might start making demands about ending the wars. Some of us believe that it's actually because many people would lose the stomach for war if we were reminded what it really means. After all, the Viet Nam war was fought 40+ years ago, and most of our young people don't have a clue. It was only late this year that the first coffin photo was allowed to be published. According to "The Private Military Herald", private contractors outnumber military personnel in the middle east 74k to 68k. The military personnel are expected to do more of the dirty work like searching for roadside bombs, etc.

    I'll stop now before I start adding opinions. Offer your friend your ear and your assistance where you can. Military families are no different from anyone else. Everyone has troubles, and everyone's troubles are caused by different things. All you can do is be there.
  6. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Thank you so much for your posts.
    I am NOT doing well with- all of this.
    My friend normally emails once in awhile...lately nada. She is sooo quiet.
    Feeling "weird" for lack of a better word...a little sick to my stomach.
    Largely because of school, I haven't been watching much news at all for the past year or two.
    The last couple of days I've had the news on for a few minutes here and there and I see these scary headlines and/or crawls about bombings and plane crashes.
    I am sick to my stomach and I can't even imagine how much worse it is for her right now with this and this other thing (don't want to post it) that is bothering her.
    Additionally, her son is specially trained in a few different areas and I'm wondering if this could mean more difficult work or a change of plans into Afghanistan.
    When we talk again (probably this weekend), I'll talk with- her about care packages, etc
    I totally understand about limiting certain photography, but it seems like we don't even see 'general' interviews with- military personnel.
    HOWEVER, I totally "get" that those could be politically motivated depending on the person doing the interviews. There really doesn't seem to be any true original unbiased journalism anymore.
    Thank you guys for the update and the good information.

  7. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    I only know this from a Navy perspective.

    When my son was over there, his ship had an almost daily "update" on their website. While it wasn't personnal (there were 6300 other sailors besides my son on the ship), it was at least some information of what they were doing.

    I would email him almost every day, usually just a paragraph of what I'd done that day. Sometimes I'd get immediate responses, sometimes there were lags. But I knew he'd get back to me when he could. Some of our emails were pretty funny with him trying to get me information and still get them past the censors. For instance when he was going to be stopping in Marseille he told me he was going to be where the "Real" thing was from where his grandmother works. My mom works at an amusement park that has a 1/3 copy of the Eiffel Tower - so I figured out France.

    Most branches have "family support" groups. If your friend hasn't contacted them, she should.

    And while this may seem horrible - in this day and age, no new is GOOD news. The days of getting the telegram are long over - it's usually just a few hours before they show up at your doorstep in the worst case scenerio. If your friend is only having sporatic emails, etc. - and no one has come to see her - her son is safe. Possibly in black out conditions, but safe.