My recent NRO piece about my daughter’s Girl Scout troop and their drive to collect recreational items for our soldiers in Iraq was well received by NRO readers. Appreciative soldiers wrote to say thanks, regular citizens wanted to know how they could organize a similar drive in their own communities. Girl Scouts are collecting DVDs to send to our boys and girls on the frontlines–as Frank Sinatra would say, “If you don’t like that you don’t like ice cream.”
With still more reserves about to be activated and the big holidays on the way, this kind of hometown support for our troops is more important than ever. The girls collected twelve boxes of movies, playing cards, footballs, baseball gloves, baseball bats, beef jerky, trail mix, Monopoly, decks of cards (the regular kind, not the “friends of Saddam” deck), magazines–and money to cover the shipping and handling. But our little town has hit a snag.
Troop 2228 (the best Girl Scout troop in the continental United States!) has run into a security roadblock. We had it all worked out to send our bounty to a nice second lieutenant in the 4th Infantry, who, in turn, had it all worked out with his chaplain to distribute the gifts to his soldiers. Just as we were set to make it all happen, the Department of Defense imposed new security measures on packages to Iraq limiting what can be sent.
Now, at this point, let me make it clear that this column is not an entry in the punditry pile up on Secretary Rumsfeld. I don’t think the Department of Defense is deliberately trying to keep our Girl Scouts away from our troops. I still think Rumsfeld’s a hunk. Most military divisions that deal with organizing or distributing gifts to service men would prefer that people simply donate money or purchase readymade care packages like the ones the USO makes up because they are controlled and pre-approved.
This makes a world of sense. But in the meantime, we have goodies that cannot be shipped through the military as far as we can tell. If we mail them ourselves to the address given us by the second lieutenant, then it will probably cost about $50 a box and he still may not receive them.
I asked a friend with the Marine Corps public-affairs office in New York if he had any ideas. He gave me the name of a wheeling-dealing gunnery sergeant he knew and said if this guy can’t make it happen, no one can. But then the goods would have to be donated to the Marines and the Army unit that’s expecting them would be out of luck.
Meanwhile, our lieutenant is waiting.
Who knows what we can do? We know top administration officials read NRO. Secretary Rumsfeld? Are you reading this? Did I mention I still think you’re a hunk? Vice President Cheney? Anyone? Help a dozen boxes of cheer make it to Iraq. I need to get these gifts out of the vestibule of my church and over to some weary, entertainment-starved soldiers ASAP. Troop 2228 needs your help.