I never really knew what life in a war zone was like. I had mental images, of course, pieced together from movies and old M*A*S*H reruns. But the only person I knew who had been in a war was my grandfather and he never talks about it. So while I guessed that it was pretty bad, I had no real idea.
Then I met Captain Miller and I had a front row seat to his deployment to Iraq. I finally understood just how hard it is…not only to live on a military base in middle of the desert where the temperature was consistently 110 degrees and you have absolutely none of the comforts of home, but to be away from your family. When you are in the military, you don’t get a holiday. War doesn’t stop just because it’s Christmas. You don’t get to go visit crazy relatives and eat turkey and open presents with your family. Instead, you just do what you did the day before…because that’s your job.
That’s the biggest lesson I learned. When you are in the desert, every day is the same. There are no weekends, there are no holidays…there is nothing to differentiate one day from the next. Neal refers to it as Groundhog Day…that feeling that everything is exactly the same as it was the day before and the day before that and the day before that…until you go nuts with the repetitiveness of it.
And for the spouses and families left behind, it’s just as difficult. You have to face everything alone…from a broken refrigerator to a kid’s school play to Christmas morning. I have nothing but respect and admiration for our troops and what they do every day to keep us safe…but I have just as much respect and admiration for their spouses and families who make just as much of a sacrifice.
Ever since I’ve gotten to know the Millers, I’ve tried to make it a point to do things for the troops and for military families that will make things just a little bit better for them. One of those things is Trees for Troops. Trees For Troops provides free farm-grown Christmas trees to members of the military and their families. Through a partnership with FedEx, they deliver trees to military bases across the US and overseas. Since they began in 2005, over 100,000 Christmas trees have been delivered and this year they expect to deliver another 18,000…300 of which were already sent to bases in Kuwait and Afghanistan.
Decorating my Christmas tree is my favorite part of the holiday season and I love that through this organization I’m able to help give that to a soldier living in the desert away from his family or a family living through the holiday season without their soldier. While you go about your decorating and your holiday planning, please consider making even a small donation to this wonderful organization. There is no better way to spread some Christmas cheer that delivering Christmas trees!
And if you are a military family, be sure to visit the website and see when Trees For Troops will be delivering trees to your base.