Taking time to give back

The recent holiday season afforded me a couple of opportunities to be with soldiers away from home.

Our local United Service Organizations provided meals for basic trainees who were unable to go home for the holidays on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Local donations from ATM Electronic Payment Systems, Holley Construction, the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW, and the National Sojourners Fort Benning Chapter No. 8 provided the USO the funds to cover a variety of holiday events.

A recent newspaper article covered the stocking stuffing for soldiers in Iraq. The Christmas Day and New Year’s Day events were for soldiers in basic training who could not go home rather than for those who were deployed.

Inspirational moments

It’s always inspiring to me to sit down and talk to the young people who are now joining the Army.

Volunteering for military service of any kind, and frankly volunteering for any public safety position or government position involving overseas work, takes a special person these days.

Anyone signing up during a war where we could be attacked overseas or at home has to know that they face risks that most Americans try to avoid.

Spending a few moments with these young soldiers helps me stay positive about the future of our country.

There are still young Americans who are willing to risk their lives to keep us safe. I’ve never met such a young soldier who was looking for praise either. They always seem to simply accept that somebody has to do this and they might as well be the person who does.

If you don’t think about that every time you see someone in uniform, you should. Serving today is a lot different than it was when I entered active duty in 1975.

The opportunity to be shot at is a lot higher today than it was 33 years ago.

Helping hands

The USO is more important than ever, too. Serving America’s soldiers is not new business for the USO, of course. Bob Hope is my most vivid USO memory because I remember seeing him on the television when he was hosting a variety of overseas shows.

I also remember the USO shows during Desert Shield.

The USO in Germany helped me set up a game room for my battalion. When one of my daughters was delayed during travel while I was overseas, the USO lent her a helping hand in a strange airport.

These are the reasons why the USO remains high on my list of organizations to support. They’ve been there for me when I needed help. Now I can sometimes help the USO bring that same service to today’s soldiers.

So the holidays were special to me for more than the standard reasons that we celebrate this time of year.

I had a chance to feel rejuvenated in my pride of the young people in this country who are willing to stand up and volunteer to protect the rest of us.

I also had a chance to repay those soldiers a little by helping the USO serve them.

If you are looking for a place to volunteer and serve soldiers, give the USO on Victory Drive a call at 706-687-5111.