Christmas in iraq...

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    Nov 29, 2007 1:43 PM GMT
    Hey guys, My 19 year old son left for Iraq 2 months ago. He is a marine and I am so proud of him. He is in fallujah which I hear is somewhat peaceful right now. He talks to his girlfriend alot and I hear from him occassionally but Its really hard him being gone, especially here at christmas. This will be the first christmas I will spend without seeing him...He is a great kid and has become my good friend. I find myself not even wanting to do christmas this year because he isn't here. Also because I know he is over there in that place and can't celebrate with us and I feel guilty somewhat. But I know life goes on, but I miss him dearly and think of him every day while praying I dont get a knock on my door from the marines...if you know what I mean. Anyone else have kids or relatives in the military away from the holdiays and how do you deal with it?

  • Alan95823

    Posts: 306

    Nov 29, 2007 6:45 PM GMT
    I have a friend with a son in the military in Iraq, and she did something pretty special.

    She got one of those small digital picture frames, and loaded it up with scanned photos from all the Christmases he was old enough to remember, decorated the house early and took loads of holiday pictures and included those, and sent it off to him to remind him that he's loved.

    I don't think he's gotten it yet, but it was a pretty touching idea, I thought.
  • auryn

    Posts: 2061

    Nov 29, 2007 7:11 PM GMT
    Hopefully, someone with the experience you are asking about will say something to help comfort you and your family.

    Although I don't agree with this war, I do feel like our service men and women need to hear and feel that they are loved and appreciated for taking care of us and each other. I don't fault them for being over there; I've known too many military personnel to even want to fault them for being in the Services.

    I had a friend who finished his tour of duty a few years ago. I was very concerned for him and made sure that I didn't say anything except keep you and your comrades safe and thanks for the service.

    I think it's important that you stay in contact with him. It'll be good for you and him to hear and/or see each other laughing.

    If possible set up a webcam so he can see the family from time to time. Friendly faces seem to keep the troups going. (Of course, my cam and his were set up for other entertainment when he could break away, but we won't get into that.)icon_wink.gif

    Let him know he's appreciated.

    (Now I'm all sentimental and want to contact my friend, just to see how he's doing. And! I just remembered that a kid I used to babysit is over there now; must check on him. He'll not get the full treatment my other did... that would be icky.)
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    Nov 30, 2007 3:56 AM GMT
    My cousin sent me this...

    When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, also include one for the following address:

    A Recovering American Soldier
    c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
    6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
    Washington, D.C. 20307-5001

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    Nov 30, 2007 5:01 AM GMT
    Speaking as someone who is deployed (Kabul, Afghanistan), don't cancel your holiday celebrations on account of the fact that he's not there with you. While you might feel guilty for celebrating without him, he'd feel responsible for the festivities not happening.

    My family has continued to celebrate the holdays through the now three that I have missed, alternating years. I certainly don't want them to cancel their plans since I'm not there. Life goes on and what they do for the holidays must go on as well.
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    Dec 04, 2007 8:25 AM GMT
    I myself am a Marine.. somewhere in Cali. Your son won't be gone for too long, I think. Depends on what he does.. what his MOS is. They cut down our deployments to 7 months. They are trying to get an easier rotation cycle going.

    My brother who is also a Marine, got deployed not too long ago. What we all did, family and friends, was have Thanksgiving and Christmas all wrapped into one a little earlier than usual. It was a cool idea and it somewhat helped us feel better.

    Things are not too bad in Iraq. Everything is actually a whole lot smoother than what they show on TV. I keep contact with my brother and some.. good buddies, haha.. of mine and they tell me they are mostly bored and can't wait to get back to party. God know those poor dudes need some freakin' alcohol. icon_wink.gif

    So cheer up. The Marine Corps is a family.. anyone who is in it or has family in it is.. well, family. That's what they teach us since day one. We're one big family.

    I'm sure your son would want you to have a good christmas.. with or without him. It won't be too cool to hear that your loved ones are bummed out. I know how it feels, although i'm not deployed.. I am still far away from my family and my brother.

    Send him packages and just let him know everything is just fine.

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    Dec 04, 2007 11:57 AM GMT
    Thanks man, yea my dad was a marine so I understand how they are with the like being family attitude. I think thats great. I guess it all boils down to him being my little boy, I know Im a big sap. Atleast things aren't as bad over there now like you said. Thanks for all the kind words and ideas. I did just send him a huge package with all kinds of stuff in it. I even bought an ipod and put all his music on it and about 300 pics so he can look at them all. Any ideas on what else I could send? I try to send toiletries, candy, peanuts, magazines that type of stuff. Thanks again.

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    Dec 04, 2007 12:06 PM GMT
    I was in Iraq for '05- '06, it sucks yea but don't forget to live life man. We celebrated the holidays over there just like you guys do granted not with the people we wanted to or how we wanted. I wish your son a safe return.
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    Dec 04, 2007 4:19 PM GMT
    I was in Iraq in '05 and just managed to get back in time before the holidays- so I lucked out. But I left friends back there, so I made sure to send them gifts. My parents sent me a laptop for my birthday so I could connect it to the network there and send them updates. How about sending him a small not too expensive video camera? He can record what he is going through and share what he did when he returns- it's quite important for when he re-acclimates. And he can even put videos on Youtube or somewhere else to let you know he's alright. That was really important to me, seeing my family, but also letting them see what I was doing so they knew I was safe. Something like the Flip video is not bad (I can email you the link). Oh and as for alcohol, vodka dyed blue in a bottle of mouthwash, or injecting rum in to a bottle of Coke (through the cap) works quite well. I wish your son the best!
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    Dec 04, 2007 9:57 PM GMT
    Hey, It's no problem at all.

    Just helping out my family. icon_smile.gif

    yalemarine's idea sounds hella awesome.. buuut.. I so wouldn't risk sending alcohol. I mean, you never know what might happen with that and you surely don't want your son to get in some sort of trouble since he is 19 and underage.

    Wait.. what's the drinking age in Iraq?! icon_wink.gif

    No, but sometimes some of your higher ups in your chain of command can be real bags of douche.

    Depending where your son is, they usually have huge PX's all over several FOBs and bases. Anything that you can't send, he can get there. My brother tells me that he can get pretty much any food he can get here.. so haha, he can still get his grub on like he would here.

    I, myself, am about to head over there around the Jan-Feb time frame. I'm excited.

    You can send your son pictures, DVD's, letters.. uhh.. things that will make him a little less homesick.

    What my family does is they send a package every other week. They just ask any family or friends who would like to send something to give it to them so they can send this huge package from everyone. It's kinda cool.

    Oh and even i'm thanking your for sending your son an ipod! THANKS A LOT! Music is pretty much the greatest thing ever. It can totally take the stress of every day bullcrap away and just make one feel better. You are a great parent.

    Time flys, i'm sure you already know that. For some reason this year just went in a blink of an eye. He will be back in no time. Just keep letting him know you all love him, support him, and yeah.. keep the girlfriend informed too.. make her feel like part of the family. It is hard for her as well.

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    Dec 10, 2007 3:41 AM GMT
    Having spent time away from family in the warzone, I can tell you, it sucks. But don't stop living. If anything, send him lots of pictures. Its what I wanted when I was there, to see my family and friends happy.
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    Dec 13, 2007 10:44 PM GMT
    Want to send a card to a soldier? Here's how

    Pitney Bowes teams with American Red Cross to make it all happen

    This can be a lonely time for military men and women stationed overseas, especially those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Getting holiday cards from back home is a big morale booster.

    Great news! There really is a way for anyone to send holiday greetings to wounded soldiers at military hospitals across the country. This was not possible a week ago, when I warned you about a mass e-mail urging people to send a card to “A Recovering American Soldier” at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The e-mail still has erroneous information, so keep reading for details on what you need to do.

    After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. Postal Service stopped accepting letters, postcards, or packages that are not addressed to a specific person at a military medical facility. Department of Defense regulations require military hospitals to reject any mail that is addressed to “A Recovering American Soldier,” “Any Wounded Soldier,” or “Any Service Member.”

    Now, the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes, working with the Department of Defense, have come up with a way to satisfy the military's security needs so the mail can get through.

    Cards must be received by December 27.

    Send them to:

    We Support You During Your Recovery!
    c/o American Red Cross
    PO Box 419
    Savage, MD 20763-0419

    Pitney Bowes will screen the cards for any security threat. The Red Cross will distribute them at Walter Reed and other military hospitals across the country.

    “We will personally hand-deliver the cards to patients,” says Red Cross spokesperson Devorah Goldburg.

    Goldburg tells me you can put a bunch of cards in a big envelope or even send them in a box, as long as there is a return address listed. “Care packages” are not part of this program.

    "Good-hearted Americans from all over the country will be able — in a safe, secure, reliable fashion — to convey their thanks to the troops who have sacrificed so much,” says Matthew Broder, a spokesman for Pitney Bowes.

    Remembering service members overseas
    This can be a very lonely time for military men and women stationed overseas, especially those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Getting holiday cards from back home is a big morale booster.

    Here’s a simple and free way to do that. Go to Let's Say Thanks, a site created and run by Xerox employees.

    There are 53 postcards to choose from, all drawn by kids from across the country. They’re bright and colorful — lots of bald eagles, American flags, hearts and the Statue of Liberty.

    Click on a card and you will see the first name and age of the child who drew it, plus the city where they live.

    Once you find your favorite design, you can write a message or choose one of 10 pre-written greetings, such as: “Sending you big hugs and cheer from home. Thank you so much for your service and bravery. Come home soon!”

    Xerox prints the cards. A non-profit group, Give2TheTroops, puts them in care packages and ships them overseas.

    Carl Langsenkamp, director of public relations at Xerox, tells me about 10 million cards have been sent overseas since the website went up about a year and a half ago.

    If you go on the site, look for a link that says “From the Troops.” You will be able to see photos and messages from the men and women who have gotten the cards.

    An Army major writes, “It is incredibly uplifting to receive messages like this and brings a smile to our faces to know that these wonderful people took the time to do something for us.”

    “It made my day,” says an Air Force sergeant. “I have it on my desk to uplift my spirits when I'm feeling down.”

    This is a non-partisan effort, Langsenkamp says. “It’s not about the conflict. It’s about the people over there.”

    I want to extend a big thanks to all the readers of the ConsumerMan column who wrote to tell me about this great program.

    Other ways to show your support
    Walter Reed suggests visiting the “America Supports You” website where you can make a donation to one of the more than 300 non-profit organizations dedicated to helping U.S. troops and their families.

    Other resources

    * The U.S. Postal Service website lists ways to support our troops.
    * You can post greetings on the “To Our Soldiers ” message board.
    * You can donate a USO Care package via the USO site.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 13, 2007 11:20 PM GMT
    1969er: Do you know if it is okay to put a Target gift card or something like that in the envelope (for the Red Cross program)?

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    Dec 13, 2007 11:39 PM GMT
    Rugger: I didn't check into it, but from my own experience of gift cards getting "lost" to family members, I just don't do that any longer. Unfortunately, there are too many opportunists around this time of year that knows about the increase in gift cards going through the mail.
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    Dec 14, 2007 12:29 AM GMT
    Rugger: I think a better gift card then Target (which they would only use upon return home) would be an ATT Phone Card. You might send it in an envelope with a piece of cardboard in it to "mask" the value of the envelope to possible thieves, here and/or abroad.

    I have been to Iraq twice, getting ready for the third time (a charmicon_smile.gif)
    One thing many guys love is cigars, summer sausages, and current newspapers from their home towns, especially sports pages. Most places have TV, but being able to read a little more in depth is nice.

    Thanks for your support, everybody! You are awesome.
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    Dec 14, 2007 2:05 AM GMT
    Hey, maybe more important is to really let us know you are praying for us, too!
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    Dec 14, 2007 9:20 PM GMT
    I misunderstood...I was thinking that these injured soldiers that the Red Cross is reaching with these cards are already back in the US. Where is Walter Reed?

    Phone card is a great idea.

    I'm sure in ten years Iraq will have plenty of Target stores though! :-(
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    Dec 14, 2007 9:23 PM GMT
    My son is in fallujah right now and we were told that we could not send phone cards that they wouldnt work, they have to purchase the phone cards over there for some reason. I havent been able to get a straight answer from him about it, but thats what we were told.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 14, 2007 9:27 PM GMT
    OK now I am completely confused. Where are the injured soldiers that the Red Cross is sending these to? 1969er mentioned Walter Reed and similar facilities "across the country". Our country or Iraq?

    As a reminder, this is the program I was referring to:

    We Support You During Your Recovery!
    c/o American Red Cross
    PO Box 419
    Savage, MD 20763-0419

    If the soldiers are back in the states after all, then is it still ok to send a target or at&t card?
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    Dec 15, 2007 4:02 AM GMT
    they don't use "pay phones" in Iraq. all phones are set up through satilite networks, a company that has a contract with the DoD to supply service. It is the one and only company a Soldier or Marine can purchase minutes from.
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    Dec 16, 2007 3:56 PM GMT
    The Sunday paper just printed several helpful web sites for options on donating:

    $37 for a snack pack that includes Gatorade, beef jerky, and coffee. Note: this is a right-wing group, and I know from the threads there are plenty of repubs that would feel more comfortable using this as a vehicle:

    $38 sends a space heater for the cold months. Doesn't appear partisan. There's a disturbing clip of an IED detonating--fortunately not hurting anyone.

    Donate Frequent Flier Miles. I don't fly enough to ever get a free one, so this is a good option for me. Also check out the rest of the web site for the Fisher House Foundation--they do good work and appear nonpartisan.

    $10 care packages--haven't reviewed the full site:

    A better Gift Card option!: Get an Exchange gift card--this is where most of them shop (tax free) anyway. They can spend it on themselves or buying presents for other family and friends:

    $99 Backpack for a wounded Warrior.

    re: Calling Cards: this appears to be the group that can get the right ones to the right places.

    If you're feeling particularly generous, this site gets a voice-activated computer to severely wounded veterans. There are other giving options here, but go to the Valour-IT link for the voice-activated laptop pages.

    $20 care package for Chaplains:
    Note: it immediately states they're "Christ-centered", so I haven't checked to see if that means they only support Christian Chaplains.

    Boost morale: Contribute to the USO: