Hi Dad - Christmas greetings from Afghanistan. Thanks for the socks and Mom's cookies. The guys loved them. In answer to your question, we continue to go out on patrols almost every day. We still can't tell the good guys from the bad guys. Some kid or woman can just as easily be carrying a bomb. Don't tell Mom--but we are nervous and scared all of the time. We don't want to kill someone innocent, but there is no way to know who the enemy is. Also if we make friends with the locals as the brass encourages us to do, some crazy bastard is just as likely to come along and kill them for being friendly to us. So being unfriendly is better and safer for them. We try to keep our spirits up, but it isn't always easy.
You remember Charlie who went to high school with me and got a college football scholarship. He kept talking about going back to college and winning the Heisman Trophy. Well yesterday he got his leg blown off by an IED. This was his third tour and he was due to go home next week. We hear that we all will be going home soon, but I guess not this Christmas. We can't believe there are some politicians saying that it's too soon and that we should stay longer. Let them have their own kids stay here a week and then see what they say. I bet if there was a draft this war would be over tomorrow. We've done everything we can. We have great pride and believe we can carry out any mission, but this just doesn't seem to be a winnable war. It's like that game Whac-A-Mole. You knock one down and ten more pop-up somewhere else.
We all want to come home, but worry about what we are coming home to. We read the papers and watch the news. It looks to us that while we are fighting for our country, our country is going down the tubes. Thousands of us have been killed and many times more wounded. God knows how many civilians have been killed and wounded. And we see these Congressmen acting like they are in kindergarten. We're getting our behinds shot off here while they are sitting on theirs doing nothing and worrying whether or not millionaires and billionaires are going to have to pay more in taxes. Give me a break. We read that vets, maybe a hundred thousand are homeless and on the streets, can't get jobs, getting ripped off on their education, can't get the care they need and that even their burials are fucked up. If they don't care about us dying or getting our arms or legs blown off, maybe they ought to consider how much this war is costing and wasting---since money and tax breaks seem to be the only important things to them. I know some feel that if we pull out now all those deaths and wounded will have been for nothing, but I don't think adding more to the list is going to make their sacrifices any more meaningful.
I don't mean to worry you with all this. I am fine and know that I will be home soon. Give hugs and kisses all around to the family. If you want us to win this war and come home safe---have Mom send more cookies. Merry Christmas.
Note: The author was severely wounded 12 days after writing this letter.
This letter is fictitious. I obviously don't know, but I suspect similar ones are frequently written to parents of those serving in Afghanistan followed unfortunately and too often by the same aftermath.