Sunday, November 30, 2008

Family and Friends

Family members have always been important to Soldiers, especially those preparing to head off to deployment. After Soldiers, family members are the Army's most valuable asset and we need to salute their efforts and support.

In my previous deployments my family members have always been supportive, from letting me park my car in their driveway to receiving my mail and then forwarding it to me.

But what about friends? Our friends who support us are truly the unsung heroes of military personnel. Only until recently Army programs have ignored the support we get from non-family members and even now it's not always enough. And I must say...I have the best friends in the whole world!

Even way back in Bosnia in 1998, when deploying Soldiers were the minority, my friends stepped up to the plate and kept up my morale. Suz sent me cookies and Star Trek: Voyager videos while Michelle sent me untold amounts of funny e-mails and stories. In Kosovo the videos and cookies and emails continued and then B and Kel sent me West Wing videos.

For this deployment planning has been difficult. The hardest thing to organize is my mail. I don't get a lot of mail (yay for auto pay on the Internet) but still...I need to have it collected and forwarded. Step in Judy. She and I basically grew up together back in Alabama...we were inseperable. We had a lot of fun times. But we grew up, I moved away, and life moved on. Now Judy lives just down the road from me in Austin and we had a chance to reconnect. She has generously offered to gather my mail at a PO box and forward it to me every week or so. It might seem to some like an insignificant task, but to me it's a huge relief. One less thing that I have to worry about. And she's also offered to start my car up once a month or so while it's parked in the garage of yet another friend. Both of these tasks are time-consuming and a big responsibility and Judy has never even hesitated to offer her support. And this past week over Thanksgiving her and another Alabama transplant, Jennifer, both stated that they wanted to send packages not only to me but to the unit. Whatever we need just ask and they'll send it to us.

Oh yeah, thanks Barbara for checking in on my stuff in storage! And to B for holding and eventually sending the Keeping Up Appearances DVD.

So, we need to remember the families of our Soldiers, how much they have sacrificed and what they go through when a Soldier deploys. But let's not forget those who aren't related but who nonetheless offer us support, making our lives just a little bit easier when we're dealing with a lot of difficulty. :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Almost Thanksgiving

1SG Martinez told me today I had to update my blog or he was going to make me sit in the corner and take a timeout.

To say that life at the 211th is busy is like saying it snows in Minnesota once in awhile. We are about 6 weeks away from heading off to the desert and between training, administrative requirements, and physical training all the Soldiers in the mighty fightin' 211th are putting in some long hours.

I don't think I can ever say it enough, but with each and every passing day I get more impressed with the 211th Soldiers. After weeks of training and 21 days at RTC, the unit has come together nicely. Soldiers are becoming more comfortable with their assigned tasks and responsibilities and the result is...a well-oiled unit. I can't wait to get into theater and start MPAD-ing. Is that a word? It is now!

I think the funnest (or maybe funniest?) training we've done is HUMVEE licensing last week. We borrowed three brand-new (less than 200 miles) up-armored HUMVEEs from our higher command, borrowed driver trainers from another command, and spent three days out learning to go up, down, through, between, and upside down. No, not upside down...that was another training session!

It's been over 6 years since I last drove a HUMVEE and never an up-armored one. Fun!!! And going cross-country through the Texas backwoods was a thrill. At one point I was driving up a hill so steep I could only see blue sky.

I want to wish anyone who reads this a Happy Thanksgiving! I'm heading to Austin to see an old friend and then on Friday I'm taking my car in for service. Unfortunately we're back on Saturday to pick our training back up. What a weekend.