The Jan. 2. letter "Our soldiers are not deprived of necessities" shocked me. I can tell you from the pile of cards, letters and e-mails that all is not as the author suggests.
First, they don't have the large, well-stocked PXes that other overseas bases enjoy. Many are very small, have a small array of items in stock and are very quickly sold out until the next week's shipment arrives.
Shopping "outside the wire" is complicated securitywise, requiring a multitude of armed vehicles. For that reason it is very infrequently done. It is business straight to and from their destinations.
Many items that we send could be obtained if they can get to a place to buy it or if it was even stocked or in stock. The idea is to show them we care and I have scores of communications that say in so many wonderful ways, "Thank you for caring, for it makes our stay here much more tolerable."
The object of the program is morale! It contributes to them being happier, safer and healthier soldiers, which has a trickledown effect, even to family and friends.
master sergeant, U.S. Air Force (retired), and coordinator, Merced Elks Support
the Troops Campaign