Sitting at the breakfast table, his eyes convey what his mind has yet to comprehend. Quiet tears roll down his little face as he looks at his Mommy and implores “Mommy, when is Daddy coming home?” A life-sized cutout of Daddy stands in the corner of the living room, a cardboard stand-in for the man he hardly knows; a man who drifts in and out of his life like a summer storm. Tyler and his twin brother have missed their Dad a lot: he has been gone more days in seven years than he’s been home.
Tyler’s mom, Keisha, makes tremendous effort to ensure her boys know as much about their Dad as possible. She buys and sends books so that Dad can record reading them aloud to the boys and send back home the DVD. Precious phone time is spent talking to the boys, so they will know the sound of their Dad’s voice. She is their mother, friend, teacher, disciplinarian, therapist, nurse, and playmate; often with limited outside support from friends and family. After three deployments, they’ve all figured she has it under control. From wiping a runny nose, to taking out the trash, Keisha is the lifeline to her boys.
Being a single parent, whether by choice or by circumstance, is a 24/7 job. You are the captain of the ship, master of your domain, completely responsible for the safety, happiness, and well-being of house and home. There are no breaks, no vacations, no time-outs. And having the other parent drift in and out of your lives is literally like “switching on a light bulb”. One moment there is light and happiness, the next there is darkness and uncertainty. Darkness and uncertainty bloom into depression. There is sadness, anger, resentment, absence, and utter loneliness. But with the flick of a switch, it all vanishes into light. Or so we think.
The truth is, there is much anxiety over the return of a soldier. There is anxiety over who that person has become, what they have experienced and how they have changed; over the expectation of intimacy and love. It is as though a stranger has moved back into the house and you are learning to live with them again. It is a cycle oft repeated with military families; something we as civilians know little about.
I recently met Keisha, and we became instant friends. Something about her smile, bright eyes, and sparkling personality clicked with mine. She was bubbly, upbeat, enthusiastic, and charming. Finally, I met someone who talks more than I do. During the course of our conversation, I learned that she is a military wife. I told her about Netroots for the Troops, and what we do for military families. She wanted to know more, so we sat down at lunch together, and three hours later, I had learned much of what I have shared here with you.
Keisha is an extraordinary wife and mother; a very successful business woman. I am confident that she and Wyrick, her husband, will raise two wonderful boys. Few people are as dedicated, bright and committed to their children and to others. But I am very concerned about the toll their sacrifices will take.
Approximately 1% of the U.S. population is serving in the military so that the remaining 99% of us enjoy safety, freedom, and peace of mind. They have given, over and over again, supreme sacrifice in their promise to defend and protect their country. The very least we can do is support them and their families.
“Mommy, do all Daddys have to serve in the military? When I grow up, I want to serve my country too. Daddy is doing a very good thing, right Mommy?”
Each year for the past three years, we at Netroots for the Troops™ have raised money to send hundreds of specially designed Care Packages to U.S. combat troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. These packages have included the practical, such as gloves, gel shoe insoles, socks, sand scarves, powdered energy drinks and LED flashlights, as well as the recreational, such as DVDs, CDs and comic books.
All told, in those three years, we have shipped 800 Care Packages to military personnel in two different Brigades of the 3rd Marine Division in cooperation with their Family Readiness Office, and to elements of the 101st Airborne in cooperation with Operation Rakkasans.
We couldn't have done it without the strong support of generous Kossacks who contributed the time and money to make Netroots for the Troops™ a reality. Many of these donors were and remain avid opponents of U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, but are committed to assisting the Americans in uniform who have been sent into harm's way by our government. Our newest board member, for example, is Rep. Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
This year we've upped our goal to 600 Care Packages, which will be sent out in mid-June. That's no small matter. Acquiring the products that go into the packages and shipping them overseas will cost $100,000.
Our goal for Netroots For The Troops 2011 is $100,000.00 (cash or in-kind donations).NFTT's primary function is the purchasing and assembling of Care Packages at Netroots Nation to be mailed to American Military serving in war zones. However, the needs of our military families and veterans at home are also a NFTT priority. As llbear et al have shown, far too often veterans and their families end up caught between a need and red tape. As we raise funds this year remember that your donation will be helping on multiple levels. Our deployed sons and daughter will know they have not been forgotten. Military families will know that they are not alone. Veterans at home will receive needed help.
We realize that you would like to donate something tangible to go inside the packages that will be mailed to the troops. Unfortunately, accepting in-kind donations from individuals is not practical in terms of storage and handling of the items. We will only be accepting corporate donations or cash from YOU to purchase items for the care packages this year.
Here’s how YOU can help:
1. Please contact TexDem if you know someone who might be helpful in securing the corporate in-kind donations. Just leave him a message through the dkos message system. To help you think of companies who could donate products, see below for a list of potential items. Put your thinking caps on and let us hear from you. It takes time to get through the corporate processes so we need to hear from you ASAP!
2. We are accepting cash from individuals and -beg- ask that you DONATE HERE to contribute to this worthy cause. Your donation will enable us to purchase the things that we are unable to obtain through corporate donations, and will help to pay the costs of shipping them to our troops.
3. Sign up for a diary! Don’t worry---we’ve made it easy for you. We’ve got a template set up, and all you need to do is add a small introduction. You can tell us why you are donating or share a story of someone you know who has served or is serving. You can post some favorite pootie and woozel photos. Or how about some gardening photos? We love them! Recipes? We're ready to cook. A list of the top ten guitarists of all time? We'll listen. An homage to your favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy writer? (Terry Pratchett is one of mine.) We'll be reading. We want you to have fun while raising money for our troops and their families. Just drop Onomastic/Ono a message through the dkos message system to get the template and on the schedule.
4. Do you know a service member who would like to receive a care package? Email a request to: email@example.com before May 31, 2011. Please include all of the following information. Unfortunately we will not be able to process any incomplete requests:
APO Address Line 1:
APO Address Line 2:
APO Address Zip:
If you know of a Military Unit that would like to receive care packages please include Unit and contact information by May 15, 2011.
6. Help us assemble the packages in Minneapolis. It's fun! More information will be forthcoming for those of you who are going to be in Minneapolis and would like to help there.
7. Please consider joining the NFTT FaceBook Group. Invite your FaceBook and non-FaceBook friends.
_________The goal for 2011 is 600 Care Packages assembled in Minneapolis, that equates to approximately $100,000.00. Again this was decided upon after seeing we could assemble 300 in 45 minutes in Pittsburgh. Those boxes had a retail value of approximately $210.00. The items we'll be sending will be comparable to what was sent last year. However, that list is subject to modification based on suggestions, request and needs. Btw, check out the NFTT website.The following list contains some of the things we have included in packages. Please let us know if you know someone who might be helpful in securing these corporate in-kind donations. (Please DO NOT send these items yourself! We have no way to accept them. Instead, your cash donation is the very best way to help make this happen on the ground in Minneapolis.)
- Baby wipes
- Mechanix gloves
- LED flashlights
- Gel shoe insoles
- Goop Cleaning Gel
- Powdered energy drinks
- Gel energy food packets
- DVDs and CDs
- Letters to the soldiers
- More suggestions coming soon
The NFTT diaries are a way for the Daily Kos community to support the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and their families. We send them packages of items they might not otherwise receive through the normal military process but that they find useful. This is a non-political diary. While we understand there are differing views on the wars and the warriors, the site gives plenty of opportunity to express those views elsewhere. Furthermore, we would hope that users do not engage with those that attempt to hijack or otherwise disrupt these diaries.
We appreciate your understanding and support. Thanks!
Netroots For The TroopsTM is a project of Netroots for the Troops, Inc., a Virginia non-profit corporation. Netroots For The TroopsTM raises money for the assembly, mailing and delivery of care packages to American military in war zones, and to provide assistance to military families in the United States. Netroots For The Troops, Inc. is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.