Letters from home mean the world

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- People often ask deploying Airmen, "What can I do to help?"

Most Airmen say, "Nothing. We're fine."

Asking for things is hard, and we can get almost everything we need at the base exchange.

It's not until I get a package from a loved one that I realize how much these little pieces of home really mean to me. Often I don't know that I'm missing Gummi Bears until they come in the mail, looking battle hardened from traveling halfway around the world.

Sometimes just a short, quick card can brighten my outlook. And every once in a while, you hit the jackpot. After a long, tough day, there's nothing like returning to your workspace and realizing you have a package waiting for you on your desk. It's almost like Christmas.

Packages are great. Gifts and candy are always shared with others. In fact, co-workers and hut mates often get excited for each other when we get mail and many times we'll be on the lookout for our friends' names while we're at the post office.

Regardless of how odd the gift may be, it's important because it tells me people are thinking of me while life continues to go on at our home station. My favorite package to date was the one I received from my office back in the states. They sent me a couple of our base's newspapers, and it was really fun catching up on the goings on at F. E. Warren Air Force Base.

I don't mean to knock e-mails. They have their positive points: They are instantaneous, easy and free. But in my opinion they don't make up for being able to hold a letter in your hand. Knowing someone took the time out of their busy day to write down their thoughts and let you know they were thinking about you. It's just a good feeling.

Now I know this is a two-way street, and I'm a bit of a hypocrite because I don't normally write many letters, but since I've been here I've written 15 letters. Most of the time I just tell people what my day is like. It may not seem that exciting to me, but for people back home it gives them a window into our lives. My goal is to write a letter to everyone in my address book before I leave Bagram Air Base. It's a lofty goal for a writing-challenged person, but one that is completely possible.

Recently I saw a quote from an unknown author and it really hit home. It said, "What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human handclasp." When you think about it that way, how can you not write a letter?