To encourage and fortify relationships between military service members, veterans, their families, their friends, and their Country; to nurture the path of communication for everyone, ensuring that no one is alone or left behind; and proving that we have not, are not, and will never forget the nobility of their sacrifices.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thanks from a Marine to the Vietnam Veterans

An old Navy shipmate of "Old Guy's" had this message forwarded to him , who sent it to me to show pride in the fact that todays Warriors will NEVER EVER be treated like he and his friends were after coming home from Vietnam.  That we have learned from our mistakes on how we treat our Warriors  That the support we are sending downrange to our Warriors is valuable in more ways than we can imagine. 

Thank You to all Vietnam Vets from a Marine in Iraq. A guy gets time to think over here and I was thinking about all the support we get from home. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. We get care packages at times faster than we can use them. There are boxes and boxes of toiletries and snacks lining the center of every tent; the generosity has been amazing. So, I was pondering the question: “Why do we have so much support?” In my opinion, it all came down to one thing: Vietnam Veterans. I think we learned a lesson, as a nation, that no matter what, you have to support the troops who are on the line, who are risking everything. We treated them so poorly back then. When they returned was even worse. The stories are nightmarish of what our returning warriors were subjected to.  It is a national scar, a blemish on our country, an embarrassment to all of us. After Vietnam, it had time to sink in The guilt in our collective consciousness grew. It shamed us. However, we learned from our mistake. Somewhere during the late 1970’s and on into the 80’s, we realized that we can’t treat our warriors that way. So… starting during the Gulf War, when the first real opportunity arose to stand up and support the troops, we did. We did it to support our friends and family going off to war. But we also did it to right the wrongs from the Vietnam era. We treat our troops of today like the heroes they were, and are, acknowledge and celebrate their sacrifice, and rejoice at their homecoming…. Instead of spitting on them. And that support continues today for those of us in Iraq. Our country knows that it must support us and it does. The lesson was learned in Vietnam and we are all better because of it. Everyone who has gone before is a hero. They are celebrated in my heart. I think admirably of all those who have gone before me. From those who fought to establish this country in the late 1770’s to those I serve with here in Iraq. They have all sacrificed to ensure our freedom. But when I get back home, I’m going to make it a personal mission to specifically thank every Vietnam Vet I encounter for THEIR sacrifice. Because if nothing else good came from that terrible war, on thing did. It was the lesson learned on how we treat our warriors. We as a country learned from our mistake and now we treat our warriors as heroes, as we should have all along. I am the beneficiary of their sacrifice. Not only for the freedom they, like veterans from other wars, ensured, but for how well our country now treats my fellow Marines and I. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.
Semper Fidelis,
Major Brian P. Bresnahan
United States Marine Corps 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Words From A Warrior

SPC Brandt is one of the soldiers who read and responded to the Veteran's Day letters.  She is also someone I am proud to call a friend.  

I just wanted to say again how grateful I (and everyone else here) am for the letters and pictures from the kids back in the states. It was wonderful to hear about all of you and I really appreciate the time you spent to send us mail. I hope you guys are all doing well, and you are heroes to all of us.
SPC Brandt

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December Thanks

I would like to take a moment to thank those special people who helped me, help the soldiers in the month of December.  To the Erwin family and the Strickland's, thank you for your care package donations.  I know they put a smile on more than one soldiers face.

Many Thanks to "Olde Guy" for "Walking before them and understanding their plight, and wanting to help, with no need for recognition."

You might not need recognition "Olde Guy" but you deserve it all the same.

I would also like to send a special thanks to one of my oldest and dearest, friends Kevin.  One good thing about that 3rd inspired all of this.  Thank you for helping me, help your brothers and sisters who sacrifice so much for me and my loved ones.

And to My Staff Sergeant- This project has given many gifts, and getting to become friends with you is one of them.

Thank You All

A Christmas Poem

A friend sent this to me in an email.  I thought it so wonderful and true that I wanted to post it here.  I should note I do not know the soldier who is accredited for writing this poem, someone else sent it to me.

A Different Christmas Poem
By Michael Marks

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,

"I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,

I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..

Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

PLEASE, Would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people
as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our
U.S. service men and women for our being able to celebrate these
festivities.  Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we
owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who
sacrificed themselves for us.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Veteran's Day Thank You

This is a display made from letters I sent to the USO in Qatar.  The USO is a place where soldiers go for R&R (rest and recovery.) The letters are from Mrs. Bricker's Third Grade class.  The pictures are of my children in front of our "Warrior Wall" which consist of pictures sent by soldiers we have supported, and the Veteran's Day Parade in Susanville, California.  

The Third Grade letters were sent to the USO in Qatar, and to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.  So far we have received responses from three different soldiers.  Two soldiers were Army, and one was Air Force.  They were happy to answer the children's questions.   

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of frequently asked questions.  If you have a question that is not listed here, please email me and I will be happy to answer said question.

What do I write in my letter to a solider?

Write as if you are writing to a long lost friend that you have not seen in a while.  Tell them all about what is important to you.  Feel free to ask questions you are curious about, more times than naught you will get a response back.

Where do you get the addresses for the soldiers?

Some come from friends and family.  I also welcome addresses from the neighbors brother's sister's girlfriend's best friend.  If you know someone deployed, contact me.  I will put them on our mailing list. The rest I get from This is a site started by a solider who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to keep his soldiers moral up.  Currently soldiers register on the site for correspondence and care package items, normally telling a little about themselves, and their units.  The soldiers registered at this site share everything.  Higher ranking Officers and Enlisted men register on behalf of their soldiers making sure the letters, and care packages go to the soldiers who do not get mail, or live at the furthest ends of the Area of Operation.

How do you pick which soldiers to send correspondence to?

My ideal goal would be to send correspondence to every deployed soldier.  Realistically I try to send correspondence to the troops in the farthest FOB, COB, and FB's.  (Forward Operating Base, Combat Operating Base, Fire Base) because they are the most isolated.  I also look for soldiers who specifically say they would like letters and pen pals.

Why do you collect artwork to send as well as letters, and poems?

Because a pictures says a thousand words, right?  I also don't want to leave the younger kids out.  I have preschoolers that love to draw pictures about what's important to them to send to the troops.  The troops enjoy these, just as much as letters.  Kids in general are entertaining, and just because the troops aren't around kids, doesn't mean they should miss the entertainment.



Care Packages

My main focus for Words For Warriors is to send letters, poems, and artwork, however who doesn't like to receive care packages?  Some of these Warriors rely on care packages to get much need supplies because they are so far from any type of civilization and resupply comes few and far between.  When finances allow, I try to send care packages to accompany the letters.  That being said I gladly accept donations for care package items or postage.  If you put together a care package I will combine it with the letters happily mailing it.  (Just email me with your contact information.)  One box costs $11.50 to mail APO Priority Mail and an 8 X 12 envelope cost $4.50 APO Priority Mail.   Just so you know, I will never host a spaghetti feed or bake sale to pay for postage.  I will do the best I can with what I have and what I am given.  
Below I have comprised a list of the most frequently request items by soldiers.  This list will change periodically depending on weather, location, and needs of the soldiers.  Please remember if you buy something unusual to send, it must fit in a 12 X 12 X 6 box.  Thank you. 

Frequently Requested Items
Baby wipes and Hand Sanitizer (Some soldiers do not have running water)
Beef Jerky/Slim Jims
Nuts, Trail Mix, Fruit snacks, Sunflower seeds
Energy Bars
Cookies and Candy
Seasoning Salt
Kool-Aid, Crystal Light, or Propel single servings.  (Any kind of flavored powder to
mix with their water.  These are just some examples.)
Hot chocolate and Apple cider
Coffee, Coffee filters, Creamer, & Sugar  (No coffee in a can.  Not many can openers.)
Single serving Mac & Cheese, Top Ramon noodles, Popcorn (Any single serving
            Microwavable food that does not need refrigeration, or a can opener.)
Peanut butter/Nutella/Crackers
Packets of Tuna fish (no cans)
Chewing gum
AA batteries
Personal hygiene items:  Disposable razors (Mach 3 are a favorite), Shaving cream,
Toothbrush, Tooth paste, Floss, Shampoo, Conditioner, Anti-perspirant, Body wash (Axe is a favorite of the men.  Women like anything that smells good.)  Lotion (for men & women)  Feminine hygiene items
Cough drops
Eye wash/Drops (For flushing sand out of their eyes.)
Chap stick
Kleenex pocket sized
Zip Lock style plastic storage bags-assorted sizes
Air Fresheners/ Frebreze
Disposable earbuds/headphones
Pocket sized First-aid kit, Manicure kit, Sewing kit, and Eye glass repair kit
Socks(white gym, and warm winter socks)
Foot Powder (I love to send Anti-Monkey Butt Powder because it's name is so funny.)
Laundry soap- single use travel size and Dryer sheets
Plain envelopes, blank stationary, & black pens
Super absorbent micro fiber body towels
Hand and Foot warmers
Under Armor cold weather clothes (basically long johns), size M, L, & XL
Beanies (no logos), gloves, and scarves
Twin Sheets and Pillow cases
Fun Stuff For Down Time
Water pistols, Light Sabers
Whoopi Cushions
Nerf footballs, baseballs, Frisbees, soccer balls (deflated), basketballs & hoops
Playing cards, Poker chips, Card games, and any other games that will fit in the box.
Puzzle books (crosswords, wordsearch, suduko, ect.)
Magazines, and Books, no matter how old.  I do cut off names & addresses if the
Magazines are delivered to your house.  Remember, there are women, so
Vogue is as welcome as Monster trucks. 
Electronics: DVD’s, games for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, and MP3 players
AT&T Phone cards & iTunes gift cards

***Anything else you can think of that might be fun.  Some of the most unexpected items are the most fun for these men and women who have such serious and dangerous jobs.  I have found they all have good sense of humors and love the unexpected.

Why Words For Warriors

When a friends fiance in the Army, who is posted in Iraq asked her, "Does anyone know we're still out here?  Does anyone care?"  This got me thinking, what could I do, so that deployed men and women never have a need to ask this question.

My family has been sending letters and care packages to soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Qatar to a USO base for almost a year.  As a result I have made several new friends.  My boys have started a "Warrior Wall" which consists of two birthday banners (one for each boy) made with love by the troops at the USO in Qatar along with pictures of several soldiers we have supported.  My boys, fascinated by all things military like, have grown leaps and bounds thinking of others instead of themselves.  When we go shopping instead of hearing, "Mom, would you please buy me this?"  I hear, "Mom, can we please buy this for the soldiers?"

The excitement of receiving an email or letter from a soldier can only be matched by the excitement of  waking up on Christmas morning.  A feeling I am told the troops share when they receive mail from us as well.   Wanting to keep the Christmas spirt of giving going year round I decided to gather as many letters, poems, and artwork as possible to send to as many different  soldiers as possible.  Knowing my two sons and I could not possibly do it alone, I asked teachers for help.

The initial response has been more than I ever expected.  It makes me proud that there are so many teachers, students, and community members that want to help make sure our troops know we care.   The enormous amount of interest I have received has promoted me to start this blog.  I plan on using this site to send many thanks to those who are helping me reach as many soldiers as we can.   I hope to post notes from soldiers who have received mail from us, so they may share what it means to them.  I would also love to hear from the students, parents, and teachers who would like to share any thoughts or comments.

A million thanks to everyone who participates in Words for Warriors.