Lest anyone get complacent and think that all our soldiers live in comfort in Iraq, I had a message from one of "my Guys" early this morning (evening his time). His first inquiry was whether our son had started back after his leave. When I said that he had, there was a "Dang" (well, not exactly).
Upon further inquiry, he was acting as emissary for the rest of the guys and they had wanted him to bring back some bare essentials to the new camp. It turns out that the new camp -- in addition to being uncomfortably overcrowded because it's being occupied by both the outgoing and their incoming units -- lacks all of the basic "comforts" to which they had become accustomed at their old FOB. This camp has no kitchen (i.e., no hot meals), no real shower facilities (just free standing cubbies to rinse off with either bottled water or cold water when it's available), no laundry facility or service and, more importantly, no PX.
As a result, V. explained that they were eating MREs and doing laundry in buckets -- but without detergent because they have none. In addition, they had run out or were near exhaustion of their supplies of toilet paper, cigarettes (which was actually the first thing they mentioned), and all personal hygiene items -- deodorant, soap, shampoo, foot powder (they all have foot rot from wearing boots almost 24 hours a day in 120 degree weather), body powder (same malady -- other body parts), and razor blades (hey Gillette -- the guys all use Mach3 razors!!) We are very concerned and figure the situation must be pretty dire because in the six months they have been in Iraq, the Guys have never asked us to send them anything. Of course we have sent them all kinds of stuff, but whenever we have asked if they needed anything, the unanimous response has always been, "Nah. I'm good, Ma. Thanks." So I told them we'd get right on it.
So DH and I hit Costco and a few other places today and -- $400 later -- feel that we have enough supplies to keep at least our five Guys from going completely nuts (I know they will distribute to all their brothers -- we've had that conversation many times). In addition, I sent out an email to what we refer to as our son's "news network" (all his buds, family and our friends) and asked everyone to send a little something to the Guys -- and I hope these soldiers are bombarded with packages!
I heard from the parent of another of soldier at this base that they haven't had a water delivery (for bathing and cleaning) in a while and, while her son wasn't exactly sure why, the rumour was that the water buffalos (water tankers) had been diverted to serve some of the residents of Baghdad whose water had been cut a few weeks back by a TERRORIST bombing of a water main... (Have you heard yet today how we're the "bad guys"?) She also said that the camp is in a very violent Sunni area and most of the locals will not take jobs at Coalition bases (and those that would are too afraid of TERRORIST reprisals) which contributed to the lack of basic services... whatever.
We're military parents -- we know that this is a WAR and we know that it's not supposed to be nor will it ever be "comfortable" for the grunts (we'll leave the brass out of this discussion), but you'd think after two years and all the money we're paying contractors, that there would be something...
So next time you're standing in that comfortable shower with the hot water streaming over you or you're trying to decide what setting to use on the washing machine or trying to decide what's for dinner, remember our troops.
(And for those that would volunteer to send things, thank you so very much... but as regular readers of this blog know, I've kept all the identifying information out and won't post the unit or address here... but know I thank you sincerely.)
PS I found this blog today... a new one... You Must Be Kidding
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