A deployed soldier sent me an email with the subject line, “look what I killed in my bunk this morning.” Knowing his sense of humor, I didn’t know what to expect. Turns out, it was this lovely baby camel spider.
When I saw it I thought, if National Security rested on my small shoulders we’d be doomed. I can just imagine the phone call…
THE PRESIDENT: Gina, we need you to go on dangerous mission. The fate of the world is at stake.
ME: Will there be spiders? Because that’s a deal-breaker.
Along with stealthy insects
I know troops must have courage, stamina and skills for their particular job. But I also learned about the everyday battles when they deploy. Along with stealthy insects, here are a few others:
1. Keeping clean and dry
This impacts health in a lot of ways. It’s easier to do if you’re on a base with running water versus living out of the back of a truck in the sweltering heat in some remote area. But even on bases I’ve had troops whose tents and surrounding roads would flood for long periods. Then keeping their feet dry would be a challenge.
2. Breathing clean air
There’s a reason that living next door to an open burning trash pit is recommended by no one. Yet some troops endured this.
3. Keeping weight on
My adopted soldier K lost 50 lbs. during his deployment. Hiking with 100 lbs. of gear in 120 degree heat will do this for you.
4. Ground Hog Day
This refers to the movie where Bill Murray is forced to relive the same day over and over. Many troops have told me they feel this way.
5. Company 24/7
Yes, there is special bond amongst the troops. But imagine never being alone. After a while you want a break. Many troops hang blankets on their bunks for privacy. One amazing Air Force Mom made this awesome curtain. I love the phone holder and other interior pockets. I think this is a “luxury suite” compared to the usual.
This is one of the most important everyday battles because it influences so much. It can affect focus and performance as well as stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder.)
A real break
A Vietnam Vet told me this:
When you’re a soldier, you’re always too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry. Maybe you’re sleeping in the dirt. Maybe you have a cot. But it hurts. It physically hurts to be uncomfortable for so long. Then mail call happens. And it’s like a break from your reality. A letter lets you go someplace else. You read it and you’re transported to a whole other world. And a package…wow… and for those moments, you feel better in so many ways. You forget how much you hurt.
I think it’s amazing that a simple letter could have a positive impact both emotionally and physically. There are no bad side effects and each dose costs 46 cents. This may not stop spiders or keep boots dry, but it does help with battle #6, Morale. It seems that’s one we can fight together.
© Gina left the mall, 2013