Chair Force Engineer

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Support Your Troops

"I Support the Troops" is a phrase repeated so often, it has become cliche. Each time you see the phrase on a car magnet or a yard sign, what does it mean to you? Is it simply a way of saying, "I don't actively support the enemy"? Words have meaning, and supporting the troops implies that people who do so should go out of their way and physically improve the lives of Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, or Sailors who have deployed to the combat zones.

I remember an interview with Denzel Washington (back when he was promoting The Manchurian Candidate) where he asked the question about what Americans are really doing to support the troops, especially when they come back from combat. We need more people like Denzel to raise the issue, generate support for those called to serve, and improve their morale as they slog through hellish conditions.

When I was training in Alabama, I joined a small group of folks who volunteered for the charity "Serving Those Who Serve." We spent a Saturday renovating the home of a Marine to make the house more accessible to him. This Marine had lost a leg in fighting near Fallujah back in August 2004. He told us parts of his story, like coming off the plane to the states while as high as a kite on pain medication. Yet he never seemed bitter about his service. He was proud to be a Marine, and fortunate to have lost only his leg when his fellow Marines had suffered worse fates.

Although the holidays have passed, there is never a wrong time to serve those who serve. For the fighting men and women who are deployed to the warzone with none of the amenities we take for granted in the US (like beer and adult magazines,) a simple gesture like a care package can make a world of difference. When they come back home, they will still need our love. All real Americans must support their troops--with actions, not empty rhetoric.