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Saturday, April 10, 2004

Help a Soldier, If You Can

As blog readers and visitors to our website know, the National Center is in contact with a soldier, Army Specialist Joe Roche, who is serving with the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion in Baghdad. This unit is currently in active combat.

Joe wrote an essay for us showing a picture of the war effort that isn't quite what some of us have been seeing on the news. You can read it here or in a variety of newspapers across the country that were kind enough to publish it. A follow-up message Joe sent us can be found here.

The unit has been in Iraq since the start of the war and was to have been relieved by the 1st Cavalry right about now. However, about two days ago, after all the soldiers' personal effects had be sent to Germany, their deployment was unexpectedly extended by at least four months.

Although Joe tells me that morale in his unit is generally good, the 285 men and women (all but about six are men) of the unit are understandably disappointed that they will not be spending the summer with their spouses and children. Some of the men have babies they have never seen, and had been expecting to meet for the first time in a week or so. Now they won't.

Making it harder is the fact that the men have no diversions nor even the small material comforts they had in recent months -- things like magazines, hand-held games, CDs and snacks -- as all their possessions are now in Germany.

We are, therefore, spreading the word that it would mean a great deal to these men to receive care packages, or even simple letters of support, from the American public. I have an address for the unit and a list of suggested items, most of which are quite inexpensive for us stateside, but unavailable to the soldiers. I have included that information at the bottom of this blog entry and hope that blog readers might consider sending these soldiers a little something. Postage for shipping is the same as shipping to a U.S. address, whether you ship something yourself or order something online.

I'll conclude this blog entry with part of an e-mail I received from Joe today: "...back to the care packages help. I've run this by Lt. Col. Kem and Sgt. Major Placeras -- the Big Bosses of our battalion. I can't describe to you how much relief was on their faces when I told them that we might be able to get some care packages. I know neither of you are sure you can get anyone to do this, ...but forgive me please, the pressure is on."

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List of good care package items and address for shipping them, as supplied by Army Specialist Joe Roche of the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion in Baghdad

Powdered Kool-Aid and Gatorade
Batteries
Magazines
Beef jerky
Baby wipes
Hand-hand game players
CDs and CD players
DVDs and DVD players
Paperbacks
Cookies
Chips
Snacks of any kind (especially ones that don't melt)
Tobacco products

The address for shipping is:
1LT Stephen Oliver
ATTN: Soldier Care/Support
Headquarters, 16th Engineer Battalion
Unit 92890
APO AE 09324-2890

Later note: This address is now out of date.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:06 AM

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