NFTT: Lost in Afghanistan

by , posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Right before my son got on the plane for his first deployment to Afghanistan at the beginning of May, he called me for one last quick conversation. I asked him if he had any concerns or regrets he wanted to talk about, and he, knowing full well I meant concerns about his deployment or regrets about joining the Army to begin with, said “Well, yes, I have one huge regret.” (long pause) “I deeply regret that I’ve been watching Lost for six damned years and will now miss the last few episodes.”

I recognized this remark as the brand of smart-assed black humor used as a coping mechanism in gravely serious situations that he learned at his parents’ knees, so being the last person who could complain about his use of it, I instead laughed dutifully, though I hardly felt like laughing. On the other hand, I realized there was a part of him that really meant it. The loss of Lost is a big deal to him, representative as it is of losing touch with the version of civilization that has been familiar to him his whole life and so much of that revolves around instant connectivity and constant communication with friends, loved ones, and the world in general.

Cell phones, texting, email, television, hulu, imdb emergencies, etc, are all a part of his “normal” life. And films. Especially films. Lots and lots of films, both in new release and on dvds.

Now phone calls are rare, technologically challenged and difficult to follow, texting is out, e-mails are infrequent, status updates on facebook are random but sometimes happen, there is no television, hulu is out, he can’t check imdb when he can’t remember who directed something, and he certainly can’t go to the theater and lose himself in a film.

I can’t send him the last season of Lost (yet) but I do send him many, many dvds in his “care packages.” While my son is in a very remote and very dangerous location (it’s harder to find a more dangerous place in Afghanistan than the combat outpost where he is stationed), contained within his heavily fortified base, under lots of sandbags, are a television and a dvd player. Movies are an escape for every soldier there, even though they are frequently interrupted by incoming mortar fire.

All of which led me to contact the people behind NFTT, suggest they include dvds in this year’s care packages, and offer to try to get them donated.

About 24 hours later, and with very little “asking” on my part, Redbox was in for 600 dvds – Redbox for the Troops!!!

I told my son about it by email and said I would add him to the list of people to receive packages from NFTT. Then last week I got a phone call from him – his third phone call since he deployed. It was made just after they’d come off of a communications blackout because they’d lost their first soldier a couple of days before – very hard to take at a base of only thirty to forty guys, as they had quickly become very close-knit. He talked about that for a bit, the connection cutting in and out a lot, so I could only make out enough to hear that it was a very bad week.

But then I managed to make out enough of the conversation to get that he’d like it if I remove him from “that care package list you were talking about” and add a couple of names of other guys at his outpost instead. “I get a lot of packages,” he said, “and a couple of these guys get none. Seriously Mom, it’s HUGE to get a package, I can’t tell you what a celebration it is, it’s like being King for a Day and everyone is happy and cheering for you. These guys need that for a day too. Can you get these guys added?”

Yeah, I can.

Or at least we can, but really I need – we need – your help to do it.

I know this is already long, but if you can hang in there with me, the info on how you can help Netroots for the Troops connect as many as possible of our men and women who are Lost in Afghanistan or Iraq to a little bit of home is below.

logoAgain, this year, Netroots For The Troops seeks to make a tangible thank-you in our small way to the troops who are still serving, before they become veterans. Our mission is two-fold: shipment of CARE packages to U.S. soldiers and Marines serving in hostile regions of Iraq and Afghanistan for the duration of their deployment, and on-going financial assistance for veterans and their families upon their return to the States.Our goal for 2010 is $35,000 (cash or in-kind donations). So far, we’ve raised $32,398.63, 92.5 percent of our goal. So there is a little ways to go. NFFT is a project of Netroots Arts and Education Initiative
(NAEI), a 501(c)3 organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.Here are other ways you can help:• Please contact TexDem or VeloVixen if you know someone who might be helpful in securing the corporate, in-kind donations. To help you think of companies that could
donate products, see below* for a list of potential items. It takes time to get throught he corporate processes, so we need to hear from you ASAP!• The cash from individuals – donate here – will enable us to buy the things we are unable to obtain through corporate donations and help pay the costs of shipping them to our troops.• $10 donors to Patric Juliett’s team receive an ebook of Tales from the Larder. • At the NFTT 2010 Personal/Team Fundraising Pages, you can set create a Personal NFTT 2010 Fundraising Page. This gives you a means to approach your friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers and colleagues to donate to NFTT via your page. We’re asking you to sign up to personally raise $1000.00.
If you were a small donor last year but wanted to do more, this is a way for you to increase your donation via your contacts.

• Sign up for a diary! Our goal is to post two diaries per day until NN10, which doesn’t start until July 21. That’s a lot of diaries! 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 telling us why you are donating, sharing a story of someone you know who has served or is serving, or any other thing you want to share that might help motivate others to donate. Please contact jlms qkw if you are interested in posting a diary.

• Help us assemble the packages in Vegas. It’s fun! More information will be forthcoming for those of you who are going to be in Vegas and would like to help there.

• Please consider joining the NFTT FaceBook Group. Invite your FaceBook and non-FaceBook friends.

* The following list contains some of the things we would like to include in the 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 Vegas.) * 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 * Sand scarves & cool ties.

We realize that you may want 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. Instead, we will only be accepting corporate donations or cash from you to purchase items for the care packages this year.

We are accepting
hand-written or typed letters. See Lusty’s diary for details. Mail hand-written letters to Lusty, email typed letters to jlms qkw, at jlms_qkwATxmissionDOTcom

Books for Soldiers

Soldiers love to receive books, but due once again to the logistics of collecting and storing them prior to NN10, books will not be included in the packages that NFTT will put together this year. Other organizations are more specialized in the collection and
distribution of books to Iraq and Afghanistan . If you are interested in sending books, please consider checking out the Books For Soldiers website. It is run by DKos’s very own StormBear and is a great resource for giving.

cross-posted on DailyKos


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