Over the holidays, I was pleased to see a great deal of packages and letters come to us from the USA. Mylegal office, and indeed every office and shop on Joint Base Balad, was overflowing with letters and Christmas cards, cookies and sweets, and care packages of all sorts.
When we get these letters, often they are put up on a bulletin board for all to see. We get other things too. A school full of kids all got assigned to write letters, and I got an interesting picture of myself drawn by a 2nd grader.
I think that thing on my head is a helmet.
There are other things that are sent, like posters and flags signed by groups of people. Here is one example signed by a bunch of kids in a daycare (you can’t make out all the kids’ writing on the paper), which is now hanging in the legal office:
And like I said, there are walls and walls around Balad dedicated to all the letters and cards we got from home. It’s always inspirational to see a few dozen letters sent to ‘any soldier.’
The other aspect of support from home is the care packages. These came in great abundance during the Christmas season. Our office was overflowing with cookies, sweets, candy-canes, gingerbread, etc. And care packages often contain other items of use, like snacks, soap, razors, toothbrushes with toothpaste or floss, handi-wipes, books and magazines, stationary and pens, articles of clothing (like socks or caps) and countless other knick-knacks. Most items are claimed right away. Some items linger around for quite a while. For example, we get tons of playing cards, which tend to go unclaimed, and now there are over 50 decks in our break room. Cookies and gummy bears would be gone instantly, and beef jerky tends to be popular. This is not to criticize people who send playing cards, everything is appreciated in a care package, and there is obviously a great deal of thought that goes into each package. Some packages are the results of group efforts, and you can tell that some groups send out a great many packages because you see the same group’s return address on packages all over the base. And of course, whenever I get a package, I like to send a note of thanks to the giver.
Here is a picture of our break room, which has a special wooden cupboard just to hold all the goodies that get sent to us:
So the support from home is always appreciated. Even the decks of cards and old mini-soap bars from hotels that are sent to us are appreciated (if not used). All over the base, there is a general feeling that America supports us, and that is wonderful. My job is not particularly dangerous, as is the case for 95% of the soldiers over here. But we are all grateful for the support from home!
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