This is a post to underscore the strength of the military support community. Because of them, our men and women who serve (as well as their families and loved ones) are often helped with great generosity with no expectation of acknowledgment. The scope of their work is simply amazing, and often heroic. We are never stranded because they've got our backs.
The other day, I looked at the weather map and thought about changing my flight back east. Due to booking the cheapest flight (a very poor strategy when it comes to travel), I was due to connect in Houston. Hurricane Alex was due to slam somewhere onto land, and not being able to really predict much, Houston was either going to be a tropical storm, or hell on earth.
Hurricane Alex touched down in Mexico. Houston was the recipient of a deluge of rain. Of course, I was oblivious to all of this, having not rechecked the flight status prior to leaving the house. Upon my arrival in Houston, I found scores of people strewn about on the floor --sleeping, eating, and texting. It would seem the airport here got 4.25 inches of rain in a matter of minutes. My flight to Savannah was cancelled, and as we went through the chances of getting us out, it became apparent that every flight to a destination that was reasonable to where I was going --was beyond full, the standby lists ridiculously long. They could not guarantee me passage on until Sunday.
I thought quickly of my resources. I could spend a frustrating next day (Saturday) at the airport all day waiting to get out. Or I could get a hotel, and just accept it as part of travel.
Being that our men and women take weeks to get in or out of the theater, any thoughts of complaining were dashed! As of this point, I'm awaiting word from a young man who has been trying to get home for 2 weeks. So I went to an oasis of calm in the Houston Airport, and was greeted with enthusiasm and respect.
If you have never been to a USO, then I recommend doing so. We were fed, I used the computer (put word out on Facebook of my situation), and quickly found a room (Marriot points help a lot). They explained how to get to the shuttle area. As I was leaving, more veterans, active duty, and families were filing in. The USO was trying to arrange for volunteers to come spend the night to keep the doors open. I left, grateful for them. If you are a civilian, consider making a hefty donation. They do a lot more than send entertainers overseas.
My Facebook friends include many military supporters. Word raced around Facebook that I was in Houston. Veteran and now avid troop supporter, John Coffey called someone he knew in Houston. Soon I received a phone call from none other than super-military supporter Hope Strueby, who lives an hour out of town.
Hope and I have a history. She used to run an excellent blog that detailed how to pack, buy, and send supplies for the troops. To say I learned a lot from her is an understatement. In fact, she even put the word out and sent loads of supplies to my husband's unit while he was there. He put out a word for socks and pillowcases --Hope sent them and got other people to do so too. And so, it's my personal thrill to get to finally meet her. She has been so wonderful to many whom will never have the chance to meet her. I told her I was going to treat her today to a "Girls" day of manicures and pedicures. She'll be here soon. Hope is also known as America's 1st Sgt's "handler," the Marine for all-seasons. My time in Houston will be well spent. I am not-so-stranded.
This is an example of the strength and generosity of so many civilian military supporters. I never lose sight of the day when the military community didn't have this circle of friends. Never will I take it for granted. They are precious --national treasures and deserve to be thanked over and over again.