Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A little goes a long way

One of the most noticeable aspects of any Canadian social area at KAF is the abundance of visible support from home. Signed banners from factories, hockey teams, and schools adorn walls and bulletin boards - as cherished as the ubiquitous Silvia Pecota artwork.

At Canada House, there's a table with postcards and letters on it addressed "To Any Soldier." Troops grab a few when they need a boost, and read through them. Oftentimes, they answer them as well. I thumbed through a number of them myself, and marvelled at the difference in support between now, and when I got looks wearing my uniform on the bus or train to and from Kingston almost twenty years ago.

I tell you, after having seen them in action firsthand, these troops deserve all the support we can give them.

When my trip over to Kandahar was confirmed, there wasn't much I could tell people beforehand. But my wife and I wanted to make sure that if there were any sort of issues with our kids at school while I was away, the teachers knew what was going on. So we informed my son's grade two teacher and my daughter's kindergarten (oops...senior kindergarten!) teacher that I'd be going, although I couldn't say exactly when.

Well, the next day I was given a couple of poster-sized sheets of paper done up by my daughter's SK class with their best wishes for the troops, a class picture, and their adorable signatures. The teacher asked that, if it wasn't too much trouble, I could give it to some troops over there. Needless to say, that wasn't a problem.

With the Air Wing just stood up, I figured they wouldn't have as much stuff on the walls as the Battle Group, or HQ, or Canada House, so I gave it to them.

One of the senior NCM's in the group pulled me aside after the photo was taken, and told me in the clearest terms possible that this sort of public support made all the difference in the world to the morale of the troops. And he wasn't the only one to remark upon that during my visit: every time I stopped to look at something posted on a wall, sent to the troops by Canadians who cared enough to take the time, a soldier would invariably let me know just how grateful they all are for the visible signs of support they receive from us back home.

We're past the Christmas season, and into the pre-spring doldrums. So, if you have a moment, take some time and write a soldier a letter. Send a postcard. Let them know you're thinking about them, and that you want them to succeed in their mission and come home safely. It's such a little bit of time out of your day, and it will make theirs.

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