The importance of mail

Nijrab Valley, Afghanistan - Me, on foot, climbing a mountain in Kapisa Province to inspect a school. Camera in one hand, M4 carbine rifle in the other. 12 Aug 2009

Nijrab Valley, Afghanistan –
Me, on foot, climbing a mountain in Kapisa Province to inspect a school. Camera in one hand, M4 carbine rifle in the other.
12 Aug 2009

I got mail today. Not email, but good ol’ fashioned MAIL.

In fact, the post office has done right by me for the past several days.

Within the course of one week, I received a box from Muna, a box from my Aunt Pie, one from my mother and another from my Grandmother. All with goodies I can use or share with others in my team. Nice …

You probably already know how important mail is to military people. (But I’m gonna tell you again, anyway.)

Although we have the internet now, with Skype and email and so many other ways to communicate around the world, nothing lets a servicemember know you are thinking about them more than sending them a care package.

Skype-ing is one thing. But when you send someone a box, filled with something that they didn’t ask for, but really like/want/need, it shows that you were taking the time to think about them while you were away from the computer. More importantly it can be just the little pick-me-up they need after a stressful day.

In my case, I mentioned yesterday that I spent a couple of days outside the wire. It was a tiring two days for me, that included long rides in the MRAPS (armored vehicles,) lots of walking, tense moments and the heavy load of my body armor, weapons and camera gear. By the end of our mission, I was beat.

When I returned to Bagram, I was excited to see some boxes waiting for me. Even though my family is not here with me, seeing the box as soon as I returned was kind of like I was coming home to family. (It’s a stretch, but the thought was certainly there.)

My family sent me some stuff I really needed, like my favorite brand of lotion (it’s always hot and dry in the ‘stan.) They also sent me stuff I didn’t really need, but was glad to have, like DVDs and Cinnabun-flavored breakfast bars. (Yes, I know they have high-fructose corn syrup in ‘em, but I ate ‘em anyway.)

They sent lots of stuff, so much so that I had some for myself and could share some with the members of my team. It’s sort of an unofficial rule within the military … care packages are shared with the team (of course, the original recipient gets the lion’s share of the good stuff.) That’s what’s cool about mail. Receiving a care package doesn’t just mean that someone back home was thinking about me … It means that someone back home was thinking about US (the team.)

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