I've just accepted a civilian advisor position with one of MNC-I's Task Forces, which will see me returning to Iraq for the autumn, winter, and spring; I'll return sometime in the summer. I'll be shipping soon, so you won't see much from me until I get settled in Iraq.
In the meanwhile, I don't want you to forget that we need to save BooksForSoldiers.com. According to them, BlackFive readers generously donated over two thousand dollars in the first day or so. I'm proud of you, but that still leaves twenty grand more to make up. If you've given, tell your friends. If you haven't, and you can, please do.
The last trip out to Iraq, I had a friend who was an NCO and a combat veteran many times over. He'd fought in Somalia, been in Bosnia more than once, and was on his third deployment to Iraq. He had also, he confided in me on one of very many long night shifts, never read a whole book in his life. He was smart, hard charging, and a natural at persuading others to like him and help him out, but he'd never picked up a love for reading. I guess the kind of books they give you in school just didn't appeal to him.
Fortunately, I had a few Louis L'amour novels I'd brought along. I gave him one, and he read it in a day. He couldn't say enough about it the next day, so I gave him another. He eventually read all the rest I had on hand. When he got transferred I gave him the set to take to his unit, and share with the soldiers he'd been assigned to lead. I expect those books are still out in Wasit province, somewhere.
This is one of the best things you can do for the deployed servicemember. The hours are long in Iraq and there is much to do, but there is still time now and then to escape into a novel. It may be that, in helping them here, you'll teach a younger soldier -- or an old one! -- to love books and reading, which will inform him and please him throughout the rest of his life.
Remember that if we're lucky, they'll be the future leaders of our nation. We could surely use a whole new set of leaders in this country, and we are lucky to have a whole pool of outstanding ones who will someday be coming home. They have sacrificed so much for the liberty and hope of a foreign nation, you know they won't accept less in their own country. They're fine men and women already. Here is a way you can help them become still better, and more prepared, for what we all hope life has in store for them.
I know times are tough, for me as well as all of you. Still, I want to ask you to save this charity while I'm gone. I hope one of my brothers here at BlackFive will pick up the effort while I'm gone. This is important.