The Right Coast

January 18, 2005
Little Draftees
By Tom Smith

Today I got an email from Kathy, one of my best former students. She is married to Greg, a Marine officer in command of a helicopter battallion being deployed to Iraq next month. She has a good idea, explained in her email below. If you are associated with a group with kids (school, scouting, little league, whatever) who would like to support military children with a card, please email me and I will pass your message on to Kathy. If you have a blog, why not link to this post? If Kathy's idea spreads to other armed forces units, I think that's so much the better. Just to repeat something Kathy says, this is not about politics; it is about supporting the kids who bear heavy burdens when their dads or moms go in harm's way for the rest of us.

My husband's squadron, HMM-264, will be deploying to Iraq in about a
month. They'll be based out of the Al-Ansar Air Base south west of Bagdad, and their area of operations will include Falluja and Bagdad. They'll be leaving behind about 50 school-aged children, (as well as many little ones) for the seven months or so of the deployment. I'm writing about those children.

The squadron has a number of organizations that have generously expressed interest in "adopting" the Marines when they deploy -- which means that they will write letters and send packages to the single Marines, who might not have someone writing to them regularly. I've got the idea of trying to set up something similar (but less involved) for the school-aged children in the squadron, who will be left behind.

Why do we want to do this? We want to help the kids to get through the deployment. They are our little draftees -- they didn't sign up to serve their country, but they are -- doing without their daddy or mommy for more than half the year, because that's what the president asked of them. When Greg was in the original Iraq war in 2003, it made my daughter Sophie feel proud and special when people would thank her for what her daddy was doing. I'd like to make sure every child in our squadron can get that kind of support this time around.

What specifically am I asking? I'd like to find about fifty groups --school classes, youth groups, girl or boy scout troops, whatever -- each of whom would adopt one child from our squadron. We can try to match them up by age. And we'd like the adopting group to plan on sending a few cards, over the period of the deployment, that's all. We'd like the first card to come mid February, shortly after the dad or mom has left. Any other cards, its up to the group. The card could say anything you like -- thank you, we're thinking of you, anything -- just the fact of receiving it, and the signatures from other children, we feel will go a long way. This is absolutely not intended as a political activity, and it is one that anyone could participate in regardless of their position on the war. America has a good system, whereby people sign up to serve the country in the military, and stand ready when asked to go as the president directs. Its an act of sacrifice and love for the country when they do that, and its an act of sacrifice for their children too.

If you can help me find such groups, if you are connected to such groups yourself and could contact them for me to find out if they'd be interested,I'd be very grateful. If not, I apologize for filling your in box with yet another email -- it seemed the most efficient way to go, since we've got a relatively short time frame here. If you have a group that wants to help us, please email me their email address, and I'll take it from there.