Our soldiers need you. Being absolutely serious in this matter, our Armed Forces really do need you. Let me relay a story:
"Get down, Sergeant Johnson."
Staff Sergeant Berry Johnson dropped to the ground as fast as he could, rolling to the side of his fellow airman as quick as possible with two canteens, four ammo clips, and an M-16 strapped to his back. Looking over at Airman First Class Jamie Wiesner, he immediately saw that he'd been hit in the shoulder. 'Yet the kid still yelled for me to drop', thought Berry. 'He's a good one.'
"Jamie, are you okay", he asked without too much panic in his voice. He didn't want to scare the kid after all. Jamie's eyes were open, but clearly he wasn't all there.
"I'm good, I think. Something hurts pretty bad...what's going on?" Berry looked around to figure that out and answer the kid. "We're fine, Jamie. Don't move. I don't know what came in, but let me see. I'll be back in a sec."
Four hours later, Airman Wiesner was coming out of surgery. His shoulder had been shattered by a fragment grenade of some sort. His left right arm barely useable, but still there. The doctors told him he'd get full use back in his arm and shoulder after rehabilitation back in the States.
SSgt Berry Johnson walked up to his airman and asked him again, "Are you okay?"
The surgeon, a major, couldn't help but laugh at Jamie's response, "Much better now. But sir, can you find out how my Wildcats are doing in the tournament?"
You see, A1C Jamie Wiesner had grown up near Davidson and had always wanted to go to school there. However, life and money decided that he couldn't do that, so he joined the Air Force in hopes of getting his education another way.
That didn't stop him from being a fan, though. He loved his Wildcats. And guess what? His team had even made the tournament this year! Think of the excitement for a 19-year old airman, soldier, or seaman when they find out that their school has made the tournament, and even won a game!
The problem with being deployed to all ends of the earth is that you don't always get the opportunity to check the scores on an hourly basis like all of you are doing right now while at work or at home or even on the road.
This same airman was out on patrol for nine days before the attack. He knew they had won a game, but had no idea they were in the Elite Eight. Apart from talking with his wife and parents, finding out that Davidson was about to play Kansas for a spot in the Final Four was almost enough to make the pain in his shoulder go away. Almost! But imagine the thrill of that particular news.
In a world of crummy food, dirty water, sleepless nights, and the ever-present thought of being attacked, it truly is a joy to read and immerse themselves in their team. Even if it's only for a moment.
Names were changed in this story, but it isn't just that. It is NOT just a story. I talk with deployed members of the Armed Forces on a weekly, if not daily basis as part of my work. They always want to know how their team is doing.
I have passed on Bleacher Report to them and although they don't have the time to write or edit or do what we all take for granted, they do love to read. In the ten or twenty minutes a week on the internet that they may get in between patrols or missions or whatever it is they are doing, their families get most of that time, but sports will get a considerable portion.
Sports will give them hope and something to look forward to. They may know that they can see their families in three, six, or twelve months; but they also know that they can read up on their favorite team almost immediately thanks to Bleacher Report and their other favorite sports sites.
Interestingly enough, one of the best things they like about Bleacher Report are the opinions. Not just the news but the personal thoughts and ideas that you come up with. In between mortar attacks and security checks, there is a lot of downtime. Did you know that your articles and your opinions are being discussed in bunkers and watch towers around the globe!?
Keep writing. There really are people out there counting on you.