President of SCC's veteran's club Bradley Brown was one of four service members honored at this year's Veterans Day celebration at the Shoreline City Hall.
Brown served as a medic for six years with the army, in multiple deployments to Afghanistan. In his first quarter at SCC, he's still got service on his mind, as he helps Veterans Engaged for Tomorrow at Shoreline (VETS club) plan this year's fundraiser to put care packages together for service men and women abroad.
"Last year we sent off about 200 boxes to deployed marines. This year we're hoping to more than double that. We want to do 500. I'm working with the chaplain from the 3/509 airborne infantry unit. He'll take the packages to the different small locations where the soldiers are. So they're all getting a box for Christmas as much as possible the guys that are more in the suck, at least.
"The soldiers that will receive the packages are in Anchorage, Alaska right now, but are heading over to Afghanistan so that some of the soldiers there now can come home for Christmas," Brown said.
Boxes cost about $13 each to ship, which will add up fast as he gets closer to that 500 goal. "We're looking for sponsors to defray that cost, and we also accept donations." (They can be made at the veteran's center located in the FOSS building.)
We're hoping to partner with the teachers on campus and put boxes on campus so we have another way for students to contribute.
"In a lot of ways going on a deployment is like going camping and getting stuck," Brown said.
"You don't have many of the normal creature comforts – there's no Starbucks around the corner. You're just really distant from home. Usually you have access to email, every now and again you make a phone call but pretty much it's just you and the people over there."
Brown said that one of the things he likes about working on this care package project is getting to return the favor that he benefited from while serving.
"I got a package, and it really did make a difference. It's kind of like opening up your backpack after you're stuck in the woods and finding a packed lunch with a note from your mom," he said.
"It's something personal – it's nice that somebody besides just your family's thinking about you, and appreciating what you're doing. Helping shoulder some of the suck, in a small, emotional way. It really was a positive thing, and it was a very social thing too, you'd sit around and share the things you got. Especially things that you just couldn't get (over there) no matter what. We had one surgeon over there, he got a bunch of Italian things – he was Italian – and he'd share all kinds of different things I'd never had before.
"On both of my deployments it was really something to get to work with the Afghan people – the children, the victims of the war, the army over there ... Just working with the population and the kids. That was the big difference. It really humanized the whole situation.
"You deal with people shooting at you, people trying to blow you up. You deal with people that are … negative… and then you see the innocence. You see the innocence fact that it doesn't really matter where you're from or who you are. You start the same way – you start with innocence and this wide-eyed awe of everything around you."
Brown's got some other things he's looking forward to with the VETS club, too. From 2 – 4 p.m. on Nov. 30 they're putting on their annual dodge ball game in the SCC gym. "We're hoping to expand it into a tournament this year ... I look forward to being the games master."
Cam Keeble, Editor in Chief