Hey Aunty K!!
Big news from me... I only have a week left in this job. I'll be on leave for a couple of weeks, then "Force Preparation" as I am deploying to the ME in July. I'm heading to the censored as a censored, and will be there for 6 months (at this stage scheduled to return to Oz in late January). On return I'll be take a couple of months leave as I have accrued a ridiculous amount (70 days) already, and will have even more when I get back.
I think they will send me back to sea after that, on a frigate based in Sydney.
So my upcoming deployment is a big focus for me at the moment, and I just had a look at your blog and to be honest it put a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. It's a really nice feeling when you learn that there are a lot of caring people out there who are who are donating their thoughts, time and money to make the life of our diggers a bit more bearable whilst on deployment. My first couple of deployments (Kuwait and the Solomon Islands) went by without receiving a single care package, and I can tell you that it's an awfully lonely place when you are away from your family with limited phone and email contact. Even though you're usually surrounded by people, you often feel like you're out there on your own. (Rest assured, I have since educated Mum on what a care package is, and she now sends them to me regularly even though I am based interstate. At 26 years of age, I receive Express Post parcels through the Defence mail system with Aussie Flag and butterfly stickers all over them, with the return address marked as "Mum" with love hearts and kisses... much to the amusement of the staff who work in the mail room).
With the advent of email and skype, snail mail has been dying a terrible death, and personally I get a buzz from receiving "real mail" from family and friends at home. I always keep my letters, and throughout a lengthy deployment if you're feeling a bit homesick you can crawl into your sleeping bag (or bunk bed... depending where you are) and re-read them. Likewise, care packages make a huge difference to morale, and not only of the individual addressee. I always share my goodies with my mates and most people I know do the same.
I guess what I'm saying is, I really appreciate what you and your friends are doing for our deployed troops. I'll make sure I pass the link to my friends. Please pass on my thanks to your mates as well!
Because they are very much appreciated, especially by people who don't for any reason have regular contact with home.
I went to school with this member's Mum 37 years ago.