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Remembering those who can’t be home for the holidays

You would think that snow-covered mountains, crisp cool air, and the smell of an open fire would signal that Christmas is close at hand.  But for Air Force Captain Doug Neil, home and family seem very distant in spite of the wintry terrain that now surrounds him in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Unless you have a loved one in the military, it is easy to forget the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform.  Doug (Phil’s son-in-law and Marcus’ brother-in-law) has helped us to remember those who will be absent during this holiday season.   

  • Here at home, we fuss about holiday traffic.  Doug has felt the ground shake when a suicide bomber detonated outside his compound.
  • We worry about getting a gift for everyone on our list.  Doug provides air support so that every troop on his list returns safely from their mission.
  • We spend our weekends attending holiday events and festivities.  Doug has a hard time knowing what day it is.  He works a twelve-hour graveyard shift every day—no days off, and no leaving the compound.
  • We think life is rough when Amazon can’t deliver a package within 2 days.  Doug is thrilled to get a package from home that was weeks in transit and often arrives after a special event has passed.

Life in Kabul is focused on doing your job and working with your team.  Doug’s Christmas wish-list is pretty small, just a few basic items he can’t get at base, and a little something for the 13 people who serve under him.  Other than that, he just wants to Face-time with his wife, talk with Emma (age 7) about school, reassure Rider (age 3) that he is still chasing the bad guys, and to see how much the twins (11 months) have grown.

Doug reacts to his infant daughter’s laugh.

As for the rest of us, what can we do to support our troops? 

  1. We can remember our troops, speak of them with our families, and pray for them.
  2. We can donate supplies and money to organizations that support veterans and their loved ones.
  3. We can express to their families how much we appreciate their sacrifice, and offer help as needed. 
  4. And, perhaps most important, we should never take our freedoms for granted.

We express gratitude for Doug and all of our active duty military personnel.  May they feel our love during this holiday season.  We also wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Remembering those who can’t be home for the holidays

by Marcus F. Johnson, CFPⓇ time to read: 2 min