[Excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor. The read the entire article, click here]
Four years into the war in Iraq, private support for US soldiers looks as strong as ever.
By Tom A. Peter | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
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What do US soldiers need in Iraq? Probably not hand-knitted caps and booties.
"We're running into a lot of knitted items" in care packages, says Marine 1st Lieutenant Barry Edwards, public affairs officer for Regimental Combat Team Six in Fallujah.
"Great job on the knitting, but we're starting to break 85 degrees [F.] ... and in about another month it's going to be over 100."
Four years into America's war in Iraq, public approval of the effort has fallen sharply, but private support for the troops looks as strong as ever. Since no official statistics exist, the evidence is necessarily anecdotal. Soldiers in war zones receive a steady influx of care packages and letters. Domestically, organizations that offer aid to soldiers and their families have enjoyed consistent support, and some have even grown.
After only three months in Iraq, Lieutenant Edwards has received over 200 care packages addressed to him. They came from friends, family, and complete strangers, he said in a phone interview, adding that he distributes most of them throughout the regiment.
"We definitely receive more now than in previous deployments. America's support for her troops has not waned," he says.
Other troops report similar experiences.
"I have received so much stuff, I would be hard-pressed to say 'thanks' enough," writes Commander Paul Eich, a naval aviator working as an intelligence officer in Baghdad, in an e-mail.
Commander Eich, speaking as a citizen, not a representative of the US military or government, says he once received two boxes with enough hand sanitizer to last him over six months.
Army Pvt. Ryan Zarzecki, from the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment in southern Baghdad, said he's often surprised to get mail from a stranger.
"Anything you get in the mail that's not a bill is a nice thing," he says with a smile.
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