HOOAH: Difficult Times

Chad Graden

It is hard enough for our soldiers to be deployed and live in tents fighting an unknown enemy. Some of the places that soldiers are deployed to may include a large ship in the middle of some ocean, maybe out in the middle of a desert where it’s extremely hot, or even camped out on a side of a mountain where it’s so cold that if you spit, it freezes before it hits the ground.

It is also difficult when soldiers are placed in hostile environments where it seems that everyone around them is there to kill them. Sometimes even taking a stroll down the street in these foreign lands will end up being their last. In places like Iraq or Afghanistan, you can be blown to pieces simply by taking the wrong step. Being involved in firefights is another reality for deployed soldiers.

These conditions suck, and are difficult to deal with. It’s especially hard around the holidays. It’s amazing how a certain date on a calendar can negatively affect the mood of a soldier. It’s hard enough to be away from loved ones, but especially hard to be away from family during Christmas and Thanksgiving. I have known men who were deployed during the birth of their own children.

When I was deployed to Afghanistan, sometimes the only thing that kept reminding me that I was human was receiving mail from people. It wasn’t just the mail from my family, either. I was receiving mail from all parts of the U.S. My favorite thing was when I got mail from an entire 2nd grade class from Arizona. I actually became pen pals with that class throughout my time overseas.

The point to all of this, is to make sure nobody forgets about our soldiers who are deployed during the holiday season. It is hard enough to watch our troops leave, but it’s extremely difficult for those people to be away from their loved ones for such a long period of time. During war you don’t get to take a day off for a holiday. The enemy doesn’t care if it’s Christmas or Easter; they will attack at any time.

They know what our American holidays are too. The enemy isn’t stupid. They pick these certain days to try and attack because they feel like we are vulnerable during these times. I remember one Christmas in Afghanistan in which we were attacked brutally, and we lost a few guys.

So, during the holiday season this year, please keep a place in your heart for those who are in enemy land protecting our freedom. If you believe in prayer, please say a prayer for them. If not, send good thoughts their way. Let’s not forget the brave men and women serving our country who can’t be with their loved ones this holiday season.