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Be smart about providing help to Hurricane Katrina victims

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Joseph Martin
  • 96th Logistics Readiness Squadron Commander
We are living in very difficult times, and the stress levels can get to the breaking point before you realize it.

Just yesterday I had to return a brand new television to the Base Exchange I had bought only two days prior. Of course, I then had to wait in line to be served, and to top it off I had an Airman Leadership School graduation ceremony that I was subsequently late for.

As I was stewing in my own frustration, I looked up at the TV in the BX customer service area and realized that my problems -- however important to me -- were trivial.

I had a TV to return; many others have lost all their possessions.

I had a home and a family to go to; many are dead and many homes destroyed.

I had a ceremony to attend in which three logistics Airmen graduated; Keesler and many other places will not have such ceremonies for many months.

We are in fact fortunate, but all is not well.

Our jobs are about to get harder as we support an influx of refugees and additional people either on the base or in the local area who are providing support to the affected area. Give it your all knowing that if the tables were turned, they would do the same for you-we're all Air Force blue.

We all have a chance to contribute. I was asked today about organizing something in the squadron to make donations to the relief effort. What a brilliant idea, which is best executed by individually making donations to the American Red Cross.

Although donating water, diapers, canned goods and more is a noble gesture, it is extremely difficult to get such products to the affected areas. The Red Cross is ideally situated to use your monetary contributions to match the requirements on the ground.

Finally, the first responders to this catastrophe are working around the clock in search-and-rescue and recovery operations.

Although our basic military training, skills and work ethic would be of potential benefit, we need to let them do their job. This weekend, much work will be done in the affected areas, but your individual presence is not required. It is unlikely that given the devastation that anyone will be allowed into the area for quite some time. If you were to attempt to go there and "help" you would almost certainly be turned back.

Aside from the lost time on the road, fuel concerns may actually lead to you being stuck many miles from home with no way to return.

Simply put, stay here, work hard, contribute what you can, and pray.

(Editor's Note: Col. Edmond Keith, 96th Air Base Wing commander, has implemented a policy forbidding military from going to the affected areas.)