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Thursday, August 23, 2007

NEW Update on Holiday Project for Georgia Soldiers - Aug 23rd

Toothbrushes? More than DONE!!!

Diane & company in Georgia are doing their bit... Have you written that holiday note yet? Do it now, before you forget :-)

letters-to-send AT mindspring DOT com

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Greyhawk rocks.

Do yourself a favor and take a tour through Greyhawk's Mudville.

Greyhawk's credentials are here. (HT: Mrs. G)

His latest entries are HERE and HERE.

One ought to make you laugh out loud, wince, and then sigh, and the other ought to make you think. And if you're like me, you'll read bits of a particular speech for the first time.

On the latter, it helps if you've read "To Kill a Mockingbird" and remember a bit of the story.

Did I mention he's a milblogger on his second tour in Iraq?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Give 'em an inch…

…and they’ll go a mile.

That's my spin on that common catch phrase. To me, it perfectly describes many people who join Soldiers’ Angels. Show them what can be done, and they'll do five times as much as expected. Frankly, they amaze me.

Case in point. There is a new crowd of Angels out in Manassas, VA (about 30 miles west of DC). Through a corporate initiative, they were given a little encouragement and "space" (not funding) to do volunteer work, particularly in support of our men and women in uniform and their families. Different locations chose different ways to volunteer. The Manassas location chose to participate in Soldiers’ Angels programs. Part of the pitch for Soldiers’ Angels came from an employee, who just happens to be a mom, a veteran of OIF, AND a Soldiers’ Angel.

So what have she and the others been up to?

They’ve become members of Operation Top Knot.

They’ve created an SOS-KIDS team to collect items for Iraqi and Afghani children.

They’ve made their first “Blanket of Hope”.

And the biggie, they’ve adopted their “local” HHC, 3-116th out of Winchester, VA, who will be deploying in the fall. They’ve already started fundraising to support this “adoption” and have already managed to find a way to support the unit by making the unit’s pre-deployment days a little nicer.

And these Angels just got started in June. Whew.

My favorite tidbit from this crowd to date had to do with that Blanket of Hope you see in the pictures. When considering which Soldiers’ Angels programs to participate in, they learned about Blankets of Hope: homemade or personalized blankets that go in each First Response/Transitional Backpack that is given out to our ill and wounded in Combat Support Hospitals in theater or at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. As lead-Angel-in-Germany MaryAnn describes,
“[t]he backpacks include a T-Shirt, letter of support, Blanket of Hope, snacks, underwear, socks, etc. Receiving these items from everyday Americans via Soldiers´ Angels volunteers provides a level of personal support that has a very positive impact on a patient´s morale, and therefore on the recovery process.”

Making blankets sounded great, but some of our new Manassas Angels were heard to say, “But we don’t sew!”

Looks like they figured it out, huh? And wonderfully so.

I can’t wait to report on what they decide to do next. “Mile” two coming up.

P.S. If you’re interested in joining or supporting this crowd of Angels in Manassas, check their website for contact information: CLICK HERE

Friday, August 17, 2007

Blessings of being an Angel

A Soldiers' Angel that is.

As I think almost every Angel will tell you, when we get a chance to thank one of the members of our military for their service, we often get thanked in return. We could get into a humorous cycle of, "No, no, thank YOUs", but we all usually just smile and say it's our pleasure, honor, duty, joy, or all of the above. WE know who needs to be thanked, don't we Angels?
Anyway, I had the privilege of having this type of exchange with two generals recently, one active duty, one retired. A little background...

One of the cool things about being an Angel in our nation's capital is that special support/participation activities by Soldiers' Angels seem to proliferate.

I wrote about Angel events and participation at the 2nd Annual Milblogs Conference.

I've also written about giving out flags at the National Memorial Day Parade, visiting Arlington Cemetary on Memorial Day, supporting our veterans at the first Gathering of Eagles event, cheering on our wounded and active duty service members in the Face of America bicycle ride from Gettysburg to DC, adding Angel Wings to the efforts of some amazing military wives and their neighbors, and more.

Two events I haven't shared allowed me to shake hands with generals. I thanked them, but once again I got the immediate "No, no, thank YOU."

Back on July 3rd, super-Angel (my term!) Monica, who does soooo much to support our veterans at Walter Reed , and I got to attend the USMC's Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Memorial at the invitation of Major General Benes, Director, Expeditionary Warfare Division. We each invited our sisters to attend with us (we both have very cool sisters!). For some reason, my sister and I got particularly good seats... right behind MGen Benes and the special guests, Janis Roznowski, founder of Operation Comfort, and her husband. That's a picture of my view of the parade at the top of this post (see the stars on the general's shoulder? Nifty huh?

The Marines you see in the center of the pic are members of "The Commandant's Own" Drum and Bugle Corps and the Silent Drill Platoon out of Marine Barracks Washington, DC (check out the photo of the Silent Drill Platoon here). Extremely impressive. On Tuesday nights at 7pm through much of the summer, anyone can grab a seat on the grass and watch the parade. But because MGen Benes was honoring Mrs Roznowski, there was a pre-parade reception to which members of other military support organizations were invited. Which is when I got to thank MGen Benes and shake his hand. An amazingly soft-spoken Marine, but he still said, "No, no, thank YOU."

My other opportunity to say thanks was at the Pentagon last week. Soldiers' Angels was one of several non-profits that received grants sponsored by Newman's Own, Fisher House Foundation, and Military Times Media Group to fund programs that support of our military service members. A total of $75,000 was distributed. And no, Mr. Newman did not attend. Darn! But! extra-special Angel Lynette was there to accept the grants for Soldiers' Angels' VALOUR-IT program (which distributes specially equipped laptops for our recuperating wounded vets).

I wish I could say that I got to shake the hand of the man who presented the grants, but as General Peter Pace is our outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was getting lots of attention, I didn't get the chance. However, special guests at the ceremony were General Richard B. Myers, USAF (Retired) and his wife. If you'll recall, Gen Myers was Gen Pace's predecessor as Chairman. In civilian clothes, he was a little less occupied, so before he could escape I walked up and said, "Sir, I just wanted to say thank you for your years of service". And, yes, you guessed it, he replied, "No, no thank you..."

But really, Sirs, I'm getting the last word. Thank YOU.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

No Child Left Behind...

...even in Iraq. What an amazing educator -- going above and beyond for "her" students. (HT: Blackfive.net)

And, sorry, I couldn't resist the title. :-) But how truly mindboggling is that? That standardized tests for grade promotion in elementary and secondary schools -- of all things -- are alive and well in Iraq. It's so darn ordinary, so normal. Sounds a little like progress to me.

And this isn't just anywhere in Iraq, this is Baqubah in Diyala Province, one of the focal points of the major surge of operations that started in mid-June (Bill Roggio or Michael Yon can fill you in).

This amazing woman reminds me of "Tonto", an Iraqi in one of Michael Yon's recent posts, who put his life on the line to make a difference. In his case it was getting food to the people of Diyala Province.

Iraqis helping Iraqis. What was that about needing the Iraqis to stand up? Phase one: elections. Check. Phase two: individual initiative to do the right thing. Underway.

Need another example? Read this article (HT: Mudville Gazette).

Note: The initial links in this post and the last are to Blackfive.net. If you don't check this site often, you should. They post some terrific content, especially the "Someone You Should Know" series. Outstanding stuff. But don't start reading that series unless you have a few minutes; otherwise you'll be late for your appointment, burn your dinner, or stay up too late reading stuff on the internet. Take it from one who knows. Oh, and you might want to have some kleenex handy. Many of these entries should be flagged with what we Angels call "tissue alerts". :-)

In case you missed it...

...and in case you don't get to meet any of our men and women in uniform very often,

check out this video (HT: Blackfive.net)

Pardon me, but that's WAY COOL.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Written that letter yet?




Only 17 days left in August!
Join us in the AUGUST CHALLENGE by writing a holiday greeting to a member of the 3rd Infantry Division that deployed out of Ft. Stewart, Ft. Benning, and Hunter Army Airfield down in Georgia.
letters-to-send AT mindspring DOT com

Tell them hello. Tell them you’re sorry they’ll not be at home with family for the holidays. Tell them thanks for volunteering to serve. Remind them that, in the words of Victor Davis Hanson [thanks, Hugh Hewitt!],

“I think everybody who’s for the war or against the war agrees on one thing. This is the finest American army that we’ve fielded in the history of this country.”
I’m no military historian, but I think every one of our men and women in uniform is pretty special. So say hello!

Do it NOW before you forget again.

BREAKING NEWS!!! (ha) [HT: Lex at Milblogs]

While you’ve got your fingers all limbered up, tap out a note to a Marine, too. Details
HERE. I sent mine to the 1st Battalion 1st Marine Regiment last night. Address is:

letters AT thinking-right DOT com
Lex speaks from experience on what letters like yours will mean to our troops:

“It occurred to me then that we had in a way traded away our innocence to protect theirs, and that this was a worthy thing to do. Those letters and posters were deeply touching to all of us.”
Thanks in advance,

“Angel” Lisa

Monday, August 13, 2007

All about the cookies

(two that didn't fit in the box -- REALLY!)

Since becoming a member of Soldiers’ Angels, I’ve sent…

… Starbucks coffee to medics all over Afghanistan and Iraq
… birthday brownies and cupcakes to Marines in Anbar and Sailors in Baghdad
… holiday goody bags to 270 sailors somewhere in the Pacific
… letters to National Guardmen, active duty Army Soldiers, Marines, and Airmen
… and cookies. Lots and lots of cookies.

Homemade cookies often look a little homely. With no preservatives, it’s always a bit of a gamble as to what they’ll look and taste like when they arrive. But they always taste a little better, I think. And my guys seem to agree - at least that’s what they tell me. They say they try to hide them, but in the end they always say that they share them around. That’s why I always try to send a big box – so that the cookies don’t disappear too quickly.

I sent two boxes last Friday, and obviously sometime not too long ago, Greyhawk’s mom sent him some, too. Check out his latest, for his usual boots on the ground (and in the air) insights and pithy comments and for a reminder that sometimes it’s really all about the cookies.

If you’ve got the urge to bake, adopt a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine today – he or she will be pleased to share them around. Maybe.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

"Tough Americans" [new link to author's site]

Update: My thanks to Michael Fumento for stopping by and directing us to his site which has the photos from the print article plus a few more. "Strong Americans", indeed.

Article with photos is HERE.

For anyone who has met any of our wounded veterans, this quote from Michael Fumento's new article will come as no surprise:

"In the film Home of the Brave, a soldier who lost her hand in Iraq is asked if she underwent physical rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "Yeah, Walter Reed," she says. "Talk about tough Americans." Tough Americans, indeed. When I visited that same ward, the first soldier I met was Sgt. Luke Shirley, who had stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) blowing off his right side limbs and spraying him with shrapnel. "It kinda sucks not having an arm or leg," he told me, "but it hasn't bothered me like you'd think it would." I was dumbstruck. What kind of person is this?"

An amazing one. I've told anyone who cares to listen (ha) that our veterans impress me everyday. Their strength and resilience inspire me and make me so proud to call them "ours".

Go read this whole article by Michael Fumento, which is about his recent visit to Walter Reed. He offers an interesting perspective, too, as he has also spent time as an embedded reporter in Iraq.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

AUGUST CHALLENGE! (Corrected Email Address!)

[Note: For emailing messages for the holiday shipment to our troops, both e-mail addresses that have been posted here will now work ( letters-to-send AT mindspring DOT com & letters-to-send AT earthlink DOT net)]

Well wouldn’t you know… I had just posted that last update on the Holiday Project for those 20,000 Georgia-based soldiers, when I got an email alert from Diane. Guess what?

Lip balm – DONE!!

Yep. The Holiday Project received a… well, I’ll let Diane tell you:

“WOOOOHOOOO!!!!! Oh... my... GOD!!! We have just hit the mother-load of lip balm! A VFW in Rome, GA is giving us 2 and 1/2 pallets of the stuff... which is about 500,000 tubes of Blistex!!”

Tee hee! Cool, huh?

With Diane plugging away at the donation of items, I thought that I would ask anyone who reads this blog to focus on one item, the one that I think is most important: letters.

So, the AUGUST CHALLENGE from the 8th floor is for you to write up a note to be included in the holiday stocking for a Georgia soldier. Plus, get five friends or family members to do the same thing.

Do it today while you have a spare minute. Then go pester your family and friends!

You can either send your letters/cards to the address for the Armory:

Det-1 HHC 1-108th,


6784 W. Church Street, Douglasville, GA 30134

or email the letters to the following address:

letters-to-send AT mindspring DOT com

(note: when you actually use the email address above, get rid of the spaces and replace the “AT” with “@” and the “DOT” with a “.” …so it looks like in a normal email address)
I’ll format and print out the emails and send them to Diane in September.

The emailing of messages worked well for the holiday care package shipment that Angel Michelle and I did last year for a Navy ship. Many included a digital photo that I printed out along with their notes to make a photo card. The picture at the top of this post shows some of the picture cards based on emails, plus a bunch of cards made by my mom's 5th graders in Texas and some high school students in Georgia. :-)

I know the holidays seem a long way off, but all the letters have to be collected long before most of us will shop for our Thanksgiving turkeys, let alone Christmas gifts.

So, start writing! Don’t know what to say? Here’s one message that might give you some ideas, but also consider talking about what you’ll be doing for the holidays, family traditions or whatever.

You can do it. I know you can.

Non-Profit News - A College ROTC Kid Steps Up

You may recall a previous post on the formation of Public Multimedia Inc (PMI), a new non-profit organization that will support Bill Roggio's war news site, The Fourth Rail, and embedded reporters.

You may also recall that one of PMI's first embeds was to be a ROTC student from Princeton. Well, Wes, a sophomore and writer for The Daily Princetonian, has arrived in theater and is writing away.

His first featured post is here.

All of his dispatches, including those leading up to his arrival in Baghdad can be read on his blog, Notes from Downrange. As Blackfive likes to say, "grab a cup of coffee it's a long one", but Wes's fresh eyes and eye for detail make for good reading. Check it out. And donate to PMI to support other such efforts as you are able.