Employers, supervisors, co-workers
and friends can all help soldiers by relieving concerns about what's
going on at home. Intense training and the hazards of combat
generate high levels of stress, and a gentle touch from family and
friends helps bring sanity into this environment of constant crisis.
Here are five easy ways to help
reduce the stress of combat and help win the battle.
Cards and Letters
Send handwritten cards and letters on a regular schedule.
There's something very reassuring about hearing your name
announced at mail call and walking away with a card or letter
that you can read and re-read -- far better than e-mail.
Schedule letter writing, and write often. Don't expect
prompt replies because the fast pace of combat duty and daily
fatigue prevent such a luxury. Write about the weather.
Tell about business routines and extraordinary achievements.
Give the town gossip. Keep them up to date on their
favorite television show. Talk about customers and
suppliers. Pass along break room jokes and news about employees
they know. Your GI friends are hungry for a touch from
home - even if it is in an envelope. Frequent letters can
reduce stress significantly.
Phone calls With today's technology you can talk with soldiers at war.
You can get a pin number for inexpensive international calling
cards on web sites such as www.noblecom.com.
Call your soldier friends in Afghanistan or Iraq for about
thirty cents a minute. Calls to some countries cost as
little as a penny a minute. Not every soldier has access to a
phone. Ask if they can get to a land line or cell phone,
and ask about the time difference. They'll tell you the
best time to call. No matter how dangerous the work, a voice of
a good friend alleviates stress. Your calls will be remembered
Gifts and packages The gifts you send aren't as important as the frequency.
Your soldiers will tell you what they need, but theymight not
tell you what they want. Send packages often. Infantry
soldiers cannot carry a lot of stuff at any given time.
They already have 40-60 pounds of weapons and ammunition.
But send enough goodies for them to share with buddies on the
front line. You might be the only friend who sends enough for
them to share with GIs who never receive anything from the home
front. Send favorite foods, snacks, and homemade goodies. Send a
product that's new on the market. Find out whether they
need AA batteries. When I was an infantry company commander in
Vietnam, my wife once sent a whole case of popcorn that could be
popped over a campfire. After months of jungle patrols and tasty
C-rations, the popcorn was a touch of home for everyone in the
company. Who would have guessed that popcorn could relieve
Pictures Take pictures of all company activities, customer functions,
and industry happenings. All of these things are important
when you're away from home. Send pictures of co-workers and
company events. Include shots of funny things. Instead of
throwing away those goofy faces, put them in an envelope.
These are the people your soldiers know -- and miss! If they
can't get disposable cameras from the post exchange, send a
couple of the one-use cameras that cost under ten bucks. Trading
pictures helps you understand their work and the way they live,
and the snapshots help reduce stress for the troops.
News clippings Stuff newspaper clippings into those envelopes. GIs want to
know what's going on in sports, politics, Hollywood, and
society. They know that the world continues to turn while
their time is frozen in combat. News clippings help them
remember what it's like in civilized life. Send industry news
and editorials. News about the war won't damage morale.
Seeing war news in print helps soldiers understand how accurate
or how misguided their efforts are represented. Write your
own notes right on the article. Tell them what you think
about the news. Ask for their thoughts. Gather news about
their other friends. Knowing that others continue with
daily routines will be encouraging to those doing the hard work.
The reality of things helps reduce the stress of not being in
There you have it - five easy ways to
stay in touch and reduce stress for soldier friends. You'll be a
part of the war on terror. If you also want to help control stress
in your workplace, send e-mail to get a free article about
controlling the top ten workplace stressors - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2004 by
Dale Collie Dale Collie email@example.com
speaker, author, and former US Army Ranger, CEO,and professor at
West Point. Selected by "Fast Company" as one of
America's Fast 50 innovative leaders. Author of
"Frontline Leadership: From War Room to Boardroom," and
"Winning Under Fire: Turn Stress into Success the US Army
Way." (McGraw-Hil) http://www.couragebuilders.com
F`r`e`e newsletter upon request - firstname.lastname@example.org