I first "met" Roger Keene (AKA Roddy) via email through my job at the newspaper. Roddy is a CPL in the US Army, but is ready to pin on the rank of SGT any day now. He is currently stationed in Fob Kalsu, in Iraq. He had left a comment on our newspaper website and was trying to organize people to send care packages to troops. I was impressed by his above and beyond dedication to his project and I wanted to let more people know about it.
How and why did you decide to take on matching stateside civilians to deployed soldiers?
I have been stationed in the Phillippines, Korea and Japan in my Marine Corps years and I really know what letters from home mean to people. There is a lot of media attention paid to the military actions here (in Iraq) and in Afghanistan and, as expected, it is not all positive. I know a lot of Americans feel proud that we are going to such lengths and at times going there with such a personal expense.
I just wanted to cut the filter of the middle man and hear directly from those people that support the Americans that work so hard every day. It's good to hear from "home", from the states and from people that are aware that we are here I guess.
Since we last talked, what kind of response have you gotten? Too much, too little?
The resopnse has been overwhelming!! My wife and I have dedicated many long hours to making certain the soldiers I work with are recieving some sort of mail. My wife continued sending addresses well after my deployment as e-mail requests have popped up.
Does sending a package to a soldier really make a difference?
I think so, I mean it does to me. I saw a package this week from the VFW in Harrington. I know absolutely no one there, but they sent me stationary to write home, some hard candies that I handed out and I'll tell you this… I smiled the whole time I was handing out candy. Then I went home and wrote my wife on stationary that was all nice.
Yes it helps a lot, but I am not really looking for packages and free stuff… I simply put this together in order to allow my peers here to hear from Mainers and other good people and get postcards from Acadia, hometown newspapers etc. Just something to say that someone thought of us and cares.
If I'm interested in sending a soldier a package this, how do I get ahold of you?
I am giving out my e-mail address and responding (or my wife is responding to be honest) as soon as we can.
I'm stuck on what to send. What are some great things to put in a package that I wouldn't necessarily think of?
Baby wipes, beef jerky, and letter or postcards to send home I think are the best. If I'm on a 20-60 hour mission and I get hungry, slim jims and beef jerky are the best thing ever. I like to write so postcards and stationary are also great.
What are some other ways we on the homefront can help?
There are so many organizations out there asking for stuff to help with. These are great organizations, but just let me say this. Contact your local VFW or Auxiliary. Find out who from your community is out here with us and just send a hello, a newspaper or something simple and inexpensive. It's about knowing people care. Do that and I bet you make somebody's week a whole lot better!!
When do you come home? What's the first thing you want to do when you get there?
I promised after I let my little girl beat me up I would buy her a fun hat and I promised my wife that we would ride the motorcycle through Acadia. I am going to rent a log cabin on the water and just sit back for a minute and take in the "home" that I have been missing.
So if you want, send Roddy an email and he'll hook you up, or check out your local military organizations. Because sending a package (mine was around $20) is the least we can do!