It is always interesting to travel in uniform. Unlike my return from Vietnam when some California hippies decided to spit on me, I’ve had nothing but pleasant experiences since I was first mobilized in 2003.
Back then an elderly woman walked up to me while I was at a gas station. She put her hand on my shoulder and said in a thick British accent, “I don’t know if I agree with the war, but we’ve always loved the Yanks.”
When I returned from Iraq in 2004, we landed in Maine and were met by dozens of people with signs who cheered us and welcomed us home. As you can imagine, that was an emotional experience for this Vietnam veteran, but the young soldiers took it all in stride. They didn’t know how different it could have been.
While I waited in the airport this morning for the flight to my temporary duty station here in the States, several people walked up to me and thanked me for my service. It’s a good feeling to know your efforts are appreciated.
Another couple also came up to me this morning and handed me a brochure for an organization called Homes for Our Troops. In looking at their website at http://www.homesforourtroops.org/, I was impressed at the selflessness of the people behind this organization. Their mission is to help veterans who return from the War on Terror with serious disabilities and injuries. They assist these wounded warriors in building a new home or adapting an existing home for handicapped accessibility.
Americans may change how they feel about the direction of the war and they may be angry about some of the mistakes that led us to Iraq, but they must never take their frustration out on the men and women in uniform who are doing their jobs.
For now I will help train young infantry soldiers who are headed to Iraq or Afghanistan. For many this will be their second or third tour in the war zone. The soldiers training these kids take their jobs seriously and they will ensure that these troops are ready to face the dangers that lie ahead.
SFC Chuck Grist