Friday, February 09, 2007

On the Home Front: Individual Acts Have Impact

As the first official post at Soldier's Angels Kansas City, I want to relay two personal experiences from the previous week.

I work with a lady whose son had recently completed basic training and was going to AIT (school for his specialty). Her son had relayed that after AIT, the unit he expected to go to was going to deploy to Iraq. However, two weeks after that conversation she told me that her son was upset because he had injured his back during the last days of basic and would not be going to AIT any time soon or joining his unit.

So, last week, having received some "Soldier's Angels" business cards to hand out, I offered it to my co-worker and told her to tell her son to give the information to any of his friends that might be going or would need some assistance. I had explained before that I was a member of SA and what kind of things we did to support the troops.

We parted ways, but a few minutes later she came back to me and asked if I had another card. Her daughter's best friend's dad was a recruiter. He had a young soldier living on his couch having just returned from AIT. He was on leave before joining his unit that was going to deploy to Iraq. Apparently, the young soldier's family had been upset that he joined the military. Whether they had an argument and he left the house or they literally told him to leave, I don't know, but the story relayed to me was that, after the falling out, the soldier felt he could not return to the house. The recruiter (like many recruiters, however their jobs maybe profaned, often act as a liaison or big brother or even father figure) offered this soldier a place to stay.

My co-worker wanted another card to give to this young man because she felt that he would have no one to support him from home. I told her to give him the card and tell them they can contact me directly if he needed assistance getting online or signing up. Hopefully, the recruiter will be made aware (if he isn't already) of our organization and will remember to tell other soldiers how they too can be supported.


Second incident happened on Saturday. I was at Walmart returning an item in Customer Service. The line was very long and I could hardly suppress a sigh of resignation that I would be standing in line for so long.

Yet, God (or angels) works in mysterious ways. Just before it was my turn at the desk, I heard someone say, "Oh, it's great to see you back. How long are you here for?" and the reply told me all I needed to know before I turned around, "I'm here for ten days. It's all the leave I could take. At least, that was all the leave I was told I could ask for."

I knew in a moment that it was a soldier behind me and by his comment, on leave from either Iraq or Afghanistan. I glanced back to see a young man in uniform about 22 standing in line waiting to return something, too. He explained to his acquaintance that he needed to return a baby's crib and they went on to discuss a few other things. Some were vague comments that confirmed my belief he was on leave from the front.

I didn't want to interrupt their reunion, so I took my turn at the desk with one ear towards the conversation (yes, I was eavesdropping). When I was done, the soldier's acquaintance was taking her turn at the desk so I took the opportunity to approach him. I had a Soldier's Angels card in my pocket.

I introduced myself, explained a little about the organization and that we could help his family, too, if there is anything they needed (all things considered, soldier's pay and cost of family what it is, I figured they could use some help). I told him to go the site on the card and get signed up. Even if he just wanted a letter or knew some other guys in his unit that would be interested.

The entire conversation took about two minutes. I took off my glove (because my parents did teach me some manners) and shook his hand, thanking him for his service. He shook my hand back (several times, in fact) and kept thanking ME.

Frankly, I got a little misty eyed because, well, he looked a little misty around the eyes, too. (I know, soldier's don't get misty eyed; they are John Wayne and Clint Eastwood with that steely eyed 1000 yard stare).

Whether he signs up or not, who knows. But, now he knows that he has the support of someone from home. Maybe, when he gets back, even if he forgets the card or doesn't tell his buddies how to sign up for Soldier's Angels, he might tell them that he was on leave, standing in line at Walmart and met an angel.

-May no soldier go unloved

Cross Referenced at the Castle