Dec 172009

Democrats and Republicans bicker about almost everything, from the role of government in the economy, to abortion rights, to military action, to health care reform, and the list goes on and on. But, one thing that should not be a partisan issue is supporting our troops in the Middle East.

Last week, Veterans’ Day helped swing some of the public’s focus to the war in Afghanistan, as well as President Obama’s public contemplation of whether the United States should send an additional 40,000 troops there. It also reopened debate between liberals and conservatives about how the other side doesn’t care about our troops and vets.

In reality, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t support the men and women in the armed services today. The difference between Democrats and Republicans isn’t about whether or not they support our troops, but what constitutes support. Some take the “support our troops, bring them home” approach (myself included), while those in support of the wars tend to take a “We love you guys, make us proud!” approach.

Of course, opinions of war are not on a clear ideological spectrum. I know conservatives that absolutely abhor war, and I know liberals that supported an immediate assault on known al-Qaeda safe havens after 9/11.

People may take offense to a George W. Bush or Barack Obama bumper sticker, but no rational human being could scoff at a yellow “Support our Troops” ribbon. While I certainly don’t stand idly by if I hear something that I adamantly disagree with, as my piece last week can attest, I also realize the value in not coming to blows with conservatives on every possible issue. I only have so much energy, and it’s petty in the grand scheme of things.

To emphasize my point, I will close this piece with a cause brought to my attention by a regular critic of mine on the online version of the Collegian.

With the holidays just around the corner, I’d encourage everyone with the means to do so to donate to Operation USO Care Package. Some soldiers don’t have close family, or their family doesn’t have the resources send gifts to, or even make a phone call to, their loved one. Thus, it’s up to us to help make sure no soldier goes without a gift this year.

For just $25, anyone can send a USO Care Package to a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan. If you so choose, you can include a personal message of support with the package at no extra cost. These packages contain international phone cards, snacks, playing cards, reading material, various toiletries and other requested items.

Donations are 100 percent tax-deductible and can be made by visiting or by calling 1-877-USOGIVE. It can take several weeks to deliver a package to troops in Middle East battle zones, so if you want to make a donation, please do so soon.

I do not support the war in Iraq, and I do not support sending more troops to Afghanistan. I do, however, support our troops overseas with all my heart. They are simply following the orders bestowed upon them by their superiors, so any politicization of them is out of line. I think we can all agree that sending a soldier a gift for the holidays feels good regardless of political ideology.

The Army recently found that morale is falling among troops in Afghanistan amid increased violence in the area. It’s time to bump up those numbers a bit this holiday season. Send a care package today.

Kevin Hollinshead is a junior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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