HeroBracelets for the 467th and 1908th at Fort Hood.
[caption id="attachment_2737" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Members of the 467th and 1908th meet before deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan"][/caption]
Around two weeks ago we got an email from 1LT Lopez. He's with the 467th and 1908th Combat Stress Detachment, currently based at Fort Hood, Texas.
You'll remember the recent shootings there that was in the news. A gunman killed a dozen soldiers, a civilian and wounded many more during a deployment ceremony.
Well, 1LT Lopez's unit was hit very hard. They lost five soldiers that day (here's a link to a story on the event).
This is especially poignant once you realize what his unit's purpose was. The 90+ men and women in his unit are combat stress experts, to be deployed into FOB's (Forward Operating Bases) in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Their job is to help soldiers deal with the stress of living in constant danger. The FOB's are small bases set up in areas of constant conflict. The soldiers go out on patrol daily and can encounter random violence every day. The stress of living like this for a year at a time can be devastating on anyone.
[caption id="attachment_2741" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Loree at dinner with members of the 467th and the 1908th."][/caption]
So the Army developed this concept of putting trained soldiers into the FOB's to help with dealing with this stress. It's a brillient idea. This was started in Iraq and now that combat is up in Afghanistan, they are moving a detachment there.
[caption id="attachment_2739" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="At dinner with members of the 467th and 1908th at Fort Hood"][/caption]
1LT Lopez wanted HeroBracelets for the men and women in his Detachment bearing the names of the five soldiers killed on that day in November and we set about preparing the bracelets, 140 in all. HeroBracelets for each member of the detachment and more for the family members of those killed. I happened to mention this to a friend of mine and his first reaction was "I'll pay for it."
I was taken aback. I told him, "No, you don't have to do that. We'll figure out something..." I figured we could put something up on the HeroBracelets site and maybe raise the money. Then I heard back from 1LT Lopez that they were deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan within a week!
So I called my friend up and said, "OK, we'll take you up on your offer."
And I called 1LT Lopez back and told him, "Sir, your HeroBracelets are covered."
Now HE was taken aback. He couldn't believe someone, a total stranger, would do this for him and his Detachment.
We made the HeroBracelets. They read:
467th & 1908th "Who will go for us? Here am I! Send me." 11/05/09
MAJ Caraveo CPT Gaffaney SSG Krueger CPT Seager LTC Warman
We arranged to go up to Fort Hood last night (Tuesday, Dec 1) and meet everyone in the Detachment and deliver the HeroBracelets. The local community of Gatesville, Texas had stepped up to do whatever they could to help the Detachment, including offering a local ranch as a meeting place for BBQ's. We drove up from Austin to the Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville to meet everyone.
It was a moving an experience as you could imagine.
When we got there, we saw just what one might expect. A lot of soldiers in green, talking, laughing, relaxing in the big barn. We saw a lot of big guys but the group was more diverse than you might expect. As we got to talking to the men and women, we realized they ranged in age from 20 to 60. And the more we talked, the more we realized there was something really special going on here. Every single person we talked to had a special gift. They ranged from professionals, with Masters Degrees in Psychology, to young guys, just a couple years out of high school. All had volunteered to take the special training to become Combat Stress experts.
As we spent the evening with them, we came to realize how lucky we all are to have these guys on our side. They are a truly amazing group.
They made a presentation of the HeroBracelets to everyone, each putting the bracelet on their wrists. I saw many looking at the names on the bracelets, you could see their eyes as they remembered their friends... Friends they saw die before their eyes.
The idea that a Combat Stress Unit had to go through what they went through just boggles the mind. It's something I'll remember for a very long time.
So here's to the 467th and the 1908th. We salute you and what you have been through and what you are about to do. You are a truly amazing group of peop