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Help Me Say “Thank You” to Troops

Thank the TroopsAs big an honor as it is to be making the PVA/AFE Outdoor Legends Tour to meet and greet US troops in Southwest Asia early this spring, it’s also a big responsibility.  I’m joining an all-star team including Jim Zumbo, Jim Shockey, Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland, Michael Waddell, Brenda Valentine, Jerry Martin, Ryan Klesko and George Thornton – CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Our role is to bring smiles to the faces of folks who have been away from home for a long time and may well be away for a good while longer. And we’ve been warned that some of the folks we’ll meet won’t be coming back, at least the same as they are now. We want them to know that everyone back home is thinking of them and will welcome them back not only to daily life, but to the woods and waters when they are ready. We’re there to rekindle fond memories of hunting and fishing with family and friends.

The last thing I want to do is be a “downer” for these people who are sacrificing so much. So I’m worried about two things. The first is that I’ll break up every time I talk to some one. Just writing this puts a little catch at the back of my throat and a little burn in the corner of my eyes. The second is that I won’t have anything to say. “Thank you” just sounds so feeble in appreciation for effort and sacrifice of the magnitude that these men and women make every day.

Then I remembered a former pastor of the church at which my wife and I are members is also an Army Chaplain who spent a good bit of time in the Middle East in the last decade. So I contacted him for advice. He graciously responded with wonderful counsel on preparing physically, mentally, and spiritually for the Tour. His advice has already been a huge help.

When I was reading his advice and thinking again about what to say to the troops, I had this brainstorm. Why not ask my colleagues — you — directly what messages you want me to take to the troops? Seeing as our Tour be there representing America’s hunters and fisherman as well as the outdoor industry, it makes perfect sense that the messages come from you!

Please leave comments below this post.  I’ll print them out, put them in my pack and distribute on the Tour. I’ll be proud to share your well-wishes on behalf of America’s outdoorspeople.