08 March, 2008

Note from a Sheepdog

I still get a lot of visits to this old post, often from people who have found it and emailed it to a friend. But yesterday was the first time one of those visitors took the time to say hello.

Friend of mine sent me a link to the story about Franco Harris and the soldier heading back to the sand that is listed on your site.

I saw your site said "USO girl" - and in case that means you volunteer with the USO, I wanted to say a very sincere thanks.

I found the USO when stranded prior to my first overseas flight after advanced training more than 20 years ago. Not so long ago, when I landed at McGuire AFB after returning from some time in the sand, the USO was the ONLY group there to welcome us home. But it was all the welcome we could have asked for... home cooked goodies, friendly smiling faces saying "welcome home" and "thank you" - really meant a lot to all of us.

Anyway... the USO has always been there for me as a soldier, and I just wanted to say thank you.

It was sent via an army.mil address identifying him as an SFC in the military police, Army Reserves.

I was touched by his going out of his way to leave me a note. So I responded, telling him how much I enjoyed the USO as a small part of my reciprocal service, and one of the reasons I do it: "In recent years I've been acutely aware of the fact that I don't have a single warrior cell in my body, that I live in safety because others do what I am unsuited to accomplish in both skills and temperament."

Which led to this reply, a reminder that simple words and acts of gratitude carry a powerful message:
For those of you who don't have a single warrior cell in your body...

I am your guard dog... and when the wolves come, I will protect you.

When I get off the airplane after fighting the wolves, and you are there to greet me with smiles and snacks, that's all the thanks I need. Trust me, your part is not a small part to your guard dogs.

I am truly grateful to the support I have ALWAYS received (over 23+ years of service) from the USO.

Of course that reminded me of the words I have only recently found to explain why I do what I do (both at the USO and elsewhere)... "I'm not a sheepdog, but I'm a sheepdog caretaker."

Many of us "caretakers" spend a lot of time and energy raising money or trying to do big things that we hope will have a powerful effect on the lives/families of our warfighters. Those grand plans are a vital part of caring for our veterans. But in whatever form our caretaking roles express themselves, it's good to remember that little things like smiles and snacks can have a powerful impact, too.