Yes, this weekly post is about “all things shotgunning.” As such, you might expect its author’s time is spent immersed in “all things shotgunning.” That’s largely true, but I do try to pick my head up off the stock for a little while each day and see what’s going on in the rest of the world. That’s especially true during the holidays.
In the summer of 2012, I was honored to participate in the Armed Forces Entertainment/Paralyzed Veteran’s of America Outdoor Legends Tour. It was the idea of the National Wild Turkey Federation and Mossy Oak, that came into being when nine of us headed to Southwest Asia to spend time with the men and women there serving our country. Our mission was to thank these terrific people, remind them they’re never far from our minds, and let them know how anxious we are to have them back in the woods and on the water with us.
The small group that I traveled with included Brenda Valentine, Jim Shockey, and USMC Lt. Col. (ret) Lew Deal. We stopped at the US hospital in Landstuhl, Germany on the way, then headed to the Manas Air Base in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to visit troops there and prepare to head “down range” into Afghanistan. We spent a week headquartered at Camp Phoenix to visit a number of bases in a group known as the Kabul Cluster.
The trip was a life-changing experience. While I always respected the people in our military, this trip left me with new perspective and deeper appreciation of the men and women who serve. Until you experience life in a place like Afghanistan and meet the troops who must adjust their mental state to the paradigm in which they live for nine to 12 months (and must then switch back to regular old life at home), it’s hard to understand—maybe impossible. I now know, without a doubt, that most of the people who serve our country are intelligent, respectful, respected, committed, and optimistic. They long for the things and people back home, but understand why they need to be where they are, and accept it.
They deserve our remembrance and gratitude every day, but especially around Christmas. More than anything, they long to be home with the ones they love. It’s too easy for us to forget that and forget them in muddling through our so-called holiday stress.
While on the tour, I found my way to Green Beans coffee shops on various bases both in Afghanistan and in Krygyzstan at some unusual hours of the day (for me, anyway.) It was likely a combination of jet lag and needing someplace to escape and think about the incredible experiences of each day. Sometimes I talked to troops, but mostly I just found a quiet corner and sat back to watch and learn.
These Green Beans cafes are definitely a big part of our servicemembers’ lives when deployed. Green Beans’ motto is “Honor first. Coffee second.”
In the Green Beans at Camp Phoenix, I noted a promotion in my trip journal and followed up on when I arrived home. It’s called “Buy a Joe a cup of joe.” It’s a great, simple, everyday way to say “thank you.” It’s inexpensive and easy as a few mouse clicks yet provides a much appreciated and personal thank you. It’s warm, tangible assurance they are not forgotten.
Buy a Troop a Cup of Coffee: Green Beans contributes an ongoing portion of their revenues to causes supporting troops and their families. In the “Buy a Joe a Cup of Joe” program, you can follow this link and spend as little as $2 to buy a deployed soldier, marine, sailor or air man a really good cup of coffee. It will come with a message of support you write yourself and the opportunity for the recipient to reply (as most of them do). It makes buying them a cup of coffee from thousands of miles away even more personal and meaningful. You’re saying “thank you” as you would if you had the chance to sit across the table from them and shake their hands.
Share a cup of joe this Christmas season.
There’s still time before Christmas. Show your family some wonderful appreciation, too. Get several ThermaCELL lanterns (http://www.thermacell.com/mosquito-repellent/lanterns/outdoor-lantern) and patio torches (http://www.thermacell.com/mosquito-repellent/torch/mosquito-repellent-backyard-torch) for those warm weather family events. They will be thanking you over and over again.
These insights brought to you by Federal Premium Ammunition, ThermaCELL, Camp Chef, and the Quebec Outfitters Federation.
Image courtesy Bill Miller