This is an actual email I received from a friend. Shame on our government.
7 January 2007
Dear Family and Friends -
It is with great urgency that I send this letter to you today. As you might know, my partner Peter's family has a long, proud history serving our nations military. His father Brigadier General D.W. (Retired) is a decorated war hero and P.O.W. from the Vietnam war. His mother M. along with Sybil Stockdale started the organization that united the families of P.O.W's. and M.I.A's and was in fact responsible for the original P.O.W. bracelets many of us wore during the late 1960's and 70's. Currently his two nephews are in the military: C. W., a Marine Troops Leader fighting in Iraq, and A. W., an Air force fighter pilot flying reconnaissance between North & South Korea.
C.'s troop of 35 soldiers is assigned to what is considered one of the most dangerous missions - They advance in light armored vehicles in front of heavily armored vehicles scouting for hostile activity. Think of the parakeets that miners use prior to entering a mine and that pretty much sums up their job.
We were recently contacted by C. regarding the lack of life saving equipment his troop requires that is not being provided by the U.S. government. As many of you know this is unfortunately more the rule than the exception despite the billions of dollars being poured weekly into this war. There are thousands of articles attesting to the inferior nature of flak jackets, body armor and shielding for Humvees. Families from all over the United States are sending their loved ones everything from Night Vision Goggles and radios to metal shields for gunner turrets. The lack of sufficient padding inside helmets has led to the extremely high level of head injuries suffered by our troops (10% for frontline troops and 20% for in-front-of line troops - Higher than the Vietnam War.)
C's requirements are simple, not terribly expensive but can be the determining factor between life and death. His troop currently requires the following:
1. 7 Nomex Fireproof Gloves with Leather palms @ $25.00 each.
2. 20 "Headlamps" - An LED headlamp that straps to the forehead for helmet @ $12.50 each.
3. 35 Leatherman "Wave Knives" - Think of a Swiss Army knife on steroids - A multipurpose tool that attaches to a soldiers web belt. 35 @ $53.00 each.
The prices quoted above are the wholesale prices negotiated with the manufacturers by A.W., C.'s wife. The total cost currently to keep this troop safe(r) is $2,280.00.
If you are willing and able to make a donation, we would greatly appreciate your contribution. ANY AMOUNT IS APPRECIATED - NO AMOUNT IS TOO LITTLE. By no means do we interpret this as a statement by you (or us) for or against the war in Iraq. It is strictly our personal mission to keep a family member safe as well as those who are bravely serving with him.
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! We would like to have all of the equipment in Iraq by the end of this month.
We are unsure as to whether this donation qualifies as a charitable write-off because we have not formed a 501C3 Corporation. However, I am in the process of checking this out.
We appreciate anything you can do.
No jokes today. This is one of the saddest emails I've ever read. Really, how does this government sleep at night?
BIG P.S. FROM ELAYNE:
Now that I am reading the comments, let me answer that this is not a hoax, but came from a very good and old friend of mine, and this is his family. I left the actual names off for their privacy, and of course further details were in his original email (how to donate, etc.). Yes, you can ship there, though it aint easy. No, I wasn't asking Huff Po readers to donate to my friend, just sharing important and outrageous info. Are the "surge" troops going in without equipment too? Whatever else you think, this is a family trying to help the 35 guys they can. As for him forming the 501c3 charitable org., they were hoping the ability to write it off would encourage greater donations, and perhaps allow them to do more for more soldiers. These are good and honest people. We need hearings on where the war money went, then we need some trials, then some more botched hangings, and we need to pressure our reps to equip the troops while they're safely arguing in Washington. (For those readers who actually requested how to donate, www.paypal.com and then email@example.com. Steven is my old friend, he can answer any questions you have and he will get the equipment to his family's unit.) Thanks.
Follow Elayne Boosler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ElayneBoosler