- I get a lot of emails from average folks like myself.
Funny how folks on the Internet will send and answer your emails but editors
and columnists who work for the mainstream news media almost never will.
And the bigger the media types (in their own eyes), the less likely they'll
- That's why I was only a little surprised when a US Army
Brigadier General emailed me. I'd written to ask him about some information
he wrote on the internet. Seems General Albert White wrote a note to Veterans
for Common Sense, expressing indignation that some knucklehead was dissing
a wounded soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
- "A story on Fox News TV this morning got my attention
this morning," wrote General White. "One severely wounded soldier
had received just one card. It looked great on the outside, but on the
inside it was a hate card In any case this soldier is down in the dumps.
He has had buddies killed in action in Iraq and could use some good cards
or letters. Get well, we support you, etc. If you can help, send it to:
Joshua Sparling, Walter Reed Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Ave, NW, Washington,
- So I emailed General White (email@example.com), and asked
if there were other addresses for soldiers at Walter Reed. I mean, imagine
how embarrassed Joshua Sparling will feel when he receives thousands of
cards and letters, while his buddies on either side of his bunk get nothing?
Imagine how depressed they might feel.
- So the good general, retired National Guard I believe,
emailed me right back, in that succinct way that top officers always reply
to enlistees like myself. "Hi Doug, Same address top line: 'Any Wounded
Soldier,' This will do it! ThanksAl White."
- So I picked up a few, left-over Christmas cards, wondering
what to write. Then I thought: why not send a care package instead? I remembered
how great it felt to get a package from home. It didn't have to be much: any object
at hand - aid in small packages, anything that might lift the spirit of
a soldier far from home, lift the spirit of some young person feeling
more than a little lost during the holidays.
- After looking, I found a couple of small boxes and some
package tape, I thought: Why not two or three boxes? And why not address
one of them to 'Any Wounded Soldier Girl'?
- So I tossed in a book-The Cowgirl's Guide to Love-that
might help pass the time, and some hard candy and addressed the padded
envelope, 'Any Wounded Soldier Girl.' Maybe some young woman soldier will
read it in Washington DC, thousands of miles from the Montana or Colorado,
and get the urge to get well and travel into the wide open spaces,
and forget the pain of war.
- Having spent several weeks in a USAF hospital (Wilford
Hall), about 35 years ago, I recall that I had lots of time for thinking.
Maybe too much time, especially late at night.
- But suppose YOU were a young person, stuck in the
hospital, recently returned from a confusing war. Badly wounded (which
I wasn't), both physically and emotionally. Imagine yourself stuck in a
place that isn't your home town, nor is it the war zone. You are in Limbo,
the place souls go, neither heaven nor hell.
- I tried to figure out what to send. The Internet offered
some advice (http://noanie.com) on what to send the wounded in Germany,
suggesting everything from calling cards to DVDs.
- I tossed in candy bars and protein bars and a deck of
cards, and a couple thick paperback books. Heck, I sent one of my own books.
I sent another book about the colorful History of Pirates. In one box I
tossed in a glossy paperback, "Gem Trails of Southern California."
Inside the book I wrote: Get well, Go outside as soon as possible, go explore
regions like this, where death and sadness are far away and the rocks
- I avoided sending anything political. Who needs to be
preached to while stuck in the hospital? Most soldiers would rightfully
throw that stuff in the trash. I thought of sending horror, sending a couple
of paperbacks by Steven King but decided to send "Don't Sweat The
Small Stuff" instead.
- Unfortunately losing a limb or an organ ain't small stuff, but
maybe if we gave warmaking a bit more thought we wouldn't need to sweat
the big stuff like 15,000 wounded. But we have wounded soldiers and
ignoring them won't make them go away. Caring about them might go
a long way to a longterm cure.
- So a care package to a stranger needs to contain the
mundane and the essential. Only problem is YOU don't know what the essential
things are. A self-help book? Maybe mundane or maybe essential. Anyway,
whatever is inside a care package is gonna get passed around until some
guy finds what he needs among the offerings.
- No matter what you feel about the war (and many of us
vets were against it), the cardboard box of incidentals represents neither support
for the war or warrior but sympathy for all the guys and girls who got
caught up in something, like we were once caught up in something.
- This little care package, one anyone can send to anyone
else, is a meager little attempt to show solidarity. After all, we could
have just as easily been in those hospital beds. That's what happens when
irresponsible adults lie to trusting kids. A bunch of kids end up
in hospital beds without limbs
- Anyway, I figured sending stuff addressed to 'Any Wounded
Soldier,' some young person I've never met and probably never will,
was a lot like that song, 'Message In A Bottle.' It didn't matter
what the message said as much as the soul-sustaining significance of the
bottles washing up on the shore of some wounded vet and saying: We're out
here; don't lose hope; we've got your back; be strong and carry on.
- Former USAF Ssgt, Douglas Herman writes regularly for Rense
and is the author of the The Guns of Dallas