I Adopted A Heavily Armed Grown Man

My finger froze above the keyboard, as I was about to submit my name to adopt a soldier. This was 2009. Soldiers weren’t winning Dancing With The Stars in 2009.  Back then, the only time I heard about troops is when something bad happened. Either they were hurt or had P-T-S-something and hurt someone else.  So I hesitated. What was I getting myself into? If I’m mailing stuff, this guy is going to know where I live. I was having a “stranger danger” moment.

Then I remembered the tears in that sailor’s eyes when my daughter Sofia thanked him for being brave (A Sailor Wrecks My Indifference). And I thought about what I was signing up for. To send kindness and care to someone far from home who was risking their life to protect people like me. You know, strangers.

I hit send.

What is Adoption?

You commit to sending one letter a week and one care package a month for the duration of the Deployment. Mail is important. It affects morale.

It’s like Christmas Morning For Us  

I could write an entire post on just how much getting mail means. So many of my guys have told me it’s like Christmas morning. When I was doing research about adopting, I ran across these thank-you notes from two soldiers.

Soldier 1:  Although I can not truly speak for everyone, I am sure there are thousands of service members who feel the same way I do when I say beyond the cards, letters, and care packages you send to us, the most important and valuable thing you send is a sense of worth. What I mean by that is we realize we are not forgotten by people other than our immediate families. That it does make a difference in the world what we are doing, and that if there is at least one person out there who cares then the sacrifice that so many of us have and or will endure, it is worth it. Thank you very much.

Soldier 2:  The guys out here really appreciate what you’ve done for us and so do I…what you and your friends do makes a difference. Morale lifts and with it depression, anxiety, anger, frustration and loneliness to name but a few things. What you do allows us time to feel good about ourselves because someone we don’t even know cared enough about us to do something wonderful. It allows us to be able to do our jobs out here with a sense of clarity. It helps us all try harder to come home safely. I can never say this enough, THANK YOU ALL. 😉                                                                                                                        

Your Soldier Information from AAUSS Adopt A US Soldier 

This is what I got for hitting “send”.  (For privacy, I took out a few details and cropped the photo of his wife.)

My name is xxxx I’m 24 and from the great state of xxxx. I’ve been in the military for 6 years now and this is my 3rd combat deployment. I’m married to a beautiful girl named xxxx   She just gave birth to our first baby about 7 weeks ago. We had a baby boy Kyle. I still haven’t been home to see him but should be home for leave in a few months. Just got to Afghanistan in mid June and will be here until sometime in May.

my adopted soldier in Afghanistan

I looked at the beautiful but dangerous place he worked. I looked at the child he had yet to meet. I looked at his wife who was about to have all those “first” baby moments solo.  And I felt bad that I ever hesitated. This young family had a lot at risk. I think I can manage a letter and some beef jerky. I also decided to send him a What To Expect The First Year book and call it his new “field manual.” I would try to think of creative things to send. This would be fun! 10 days later I found out it would be something else as well. His email began, “We had a rough week…”

© Gina left the mall, 2012

15 thoughts on “I Adopted A Heavily Armed Grown Man

    • Ginger, thank you. I am so happy that you and Dale like this. It means a lot. And I’m grateful for the everyday courage that you and other families have when Troops deploy. Now that I understand all that, I just want to help others understand as well.

  1. Thank you, and please thank your brother as well. My goal in sharing this experience is to be helpful and/or inspiring. I’m happy you found it to be so.

  2. I’ve adopted about three soldiers since November. I always have trouble starting that first letter to them. I always feel as though I’m being awkward or starting with “Hi !! I’m __” is a little too elementary school. Any pointers/tips?

    • First of all, thank you for all you’ve done and all you’re doing. As for tips, I usually start like this, “Hi______. It’s nice to meet you. I hope things are going well for you over there. My name is Gina and I’m your AAUSS adopter. I’m here in NYC where I’m a writer and I have an awesome little girl named Sofia who makes me laugh all the time.” Obviously, your city and details would be your own:) But I think it’s a friendly way to start painting a picture. To give them a sense of who is writing.

      Then I start asking about them. “If it’s okay to ask, I’d love to hear a little about your work” I’ll ask if they’ve ever been to NYC because it gives them a chance to talk about their hometown. In fact, I always try to put some questions in. Some people find writing difficult and having a few questions to answer helps. Nothing I ask is too personal. Just the same stuff I’d say to someone if I met them in person. Hope this helps!

      • Obviously the care packages are sent by mail, but do you actually send them handwritten letters in the mail or is it just through e-mail?

      • To reply to someamerican,

        It’s a combo. With adoption– The 1 letter a week is handwritten. So they get something at mail call. Nothing like a letter you can hold in your hand. The week I do a care package, I stick it in the box. Everything else is email. Not every soldier has easy access to out-going mail. Mine would get my letter and then reply in email.

        There are other charities where it’s all email pen pal like Cup of Joe. If you like, you can check out info and links on my Ways To Make A Difference page.

        • Hello
          I am here for the first time, origin from Hungary, I have great respect and admiration for U.S. soldiers
          I am not wealthy, I am a widow, but from time to time wants to send some little thing for soldiers
          please inform me how I can send a parcel or letter
          thanks for your reply
          You are cordially greet
          Helena
          my email address helena.varga @ gmail.com

  3. I’m 22 and have my 3rd pen pal. Supporting our troops has always been a priority of mine and something ive been passionate about. WHen i volunteered at the VFW post where i use to live, we sold Poppys that local injured soldier made, and i remember seeing people frown at us and avoid us. HOW COULD YOU?!?! I just dont understand some people. Thank you for seeing and telling everyone how amazing supporting them is.

    • I wish I could say I had done so much by 22! I think it’s great that you give so much of your time and efforts to support the troops. As for those that frown, that is very disappointing. I can only assume they are unaware of what our troops’ service and sacrifice truly entails. I believe that once you do know, you can’t help but care. Thank you for reading my blog. And more than that, thank you for being a wonderful example in your community!

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