Don't ever stop giving

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- You couldn't imagine the look on her face. I've never seen eyes so bright and a smile so wide. She looked at us and said, "I'm from Sacramento--is this for me--oh my gosh--no way." 

I looked around and everyone was smiling and laughing--despite the cold and where we were. For one brief moment Afghanistan and all the burdens of deployment simply disappeared. 

We went home that night feeling pretty good about ourselves, but as I lay in bed I couldn't help think about the people who sent the hot chocolate mix, phone cards, stuffed dogs, and Christmas lights. If it weren't for their gifts, there would have been a lot fewer smiles.
Because of your gifts we've been able to support the morale of more than 700 people at Bagram AB, Afghanistan, helping them escape the hardships of deployment for a brief moment or two. What started as Equal Opportunity Office "out and about" visits has grown into what many here are calling "care-strikes"--a strategic, morale-boosting campaign that enhances combat effectiveness through precision engagement and human relations intelligence gathering. Let me tell you, each strike has a profound impact. 

It began when I asked Elaine LaJeunesse of the Airmen and Family Readiness Flight, to send me pocket-coffees. She must have spent a small fortune because she literally sent cases. I only had to give them out once--before I knew it people began to regularly visit the Equal Opportunity Office. Handing them out during visits often opened the door to great conversation about the job, morale, home and family, personal needs and so forth. My visits revealed a need for phone cards--especially for the wounded. 

This is where the care-strikes really took off. Mrs. LaJeunesse sent 200 stuffed dogs with phone-card inserts she had been saving for a special occasion, $200 in phone cards and dozens of stuffed bears. A local church responded with 20 cases of hot-chocolate mix, 5,000 Christmas lights, and 900 minute phone cards. Soon afterward, I partnered with the Chaplain here and we loaded a pick-up truck with containers of hot water, coffee and hot chocolate mix. 

Now we drive around the base at night handing out hot drinks, hand warmers and the dogs--it was an instant hit! People were so thankful--and even more amazed when they found out I was with the Equal Opportunity Office. One person asked me, "Does EO do these kinds of things?" I said, 

"Absolutely--we want to know how you're doing and meet some needs while we're at it."
Our care-strikes meet two very important goals; they support morale and provide insight into the human relations climate around our wing - a perfect combination. 

Hospital visits are by far the most rewarding. These visits bring laughter and joy--patients would laugh when the EO guy handed them a dog and phone card. It was funny, yet touching, to see them tuck the dog into their bed. Many of those dogs would become their traveling companion--from forward operating base to forward operating base--and it's all because of your generosity. 

I'm sure you're reward comes from within--but we want you to know we have done our best to put your gifts to good work. Don't ever stop giving--you have touched the hearts of many and we are very grateful. Like the young mother above, many are able to call home, have a hot drink, hang Christmas lights, and have a little traveling companion all because of you. 

Thank you for support.