Greetings from Bagram, Afghanistan

Greeting from Bagram, Afghanistan, once again, dear readers. The pace is certainly picking up for me, here, as it gets closer to my date for redeployment back to those good ole united States! Home, what a wonderful word. Speaking of home, today, I want to share with you a little about an organization that some of you prior service types might be familiar, the USO. The United Service Organization is one of the those groups that tries to bring home just a little closer to servicemen serving all over the world. The USO here in Bagram is named the Pat Tillman USO after the football player that was on the Arizona Cardinals. He left his professional football career to serve in the war on terror. He got killed in combat. So, this USO building celebrates his life in pictures, team jerseys & other team items, the Tillman family coat of arms, etc. The Tillman USO looks kind of like a mountain lodge. There are stone floors and vaulted ceilings. It is one of the few nice looking structures on base, other than the Christian Chapel. The Bagram USO only closes for a total of four hours each day, two hours in the morning and two hours late at night only so this high traffic building can be cleaned. There is a big screen TV that plays movies. Video games and machines can be “checked out.” There are ample amounts of magazines and books. A land line phone is also available. Our USO is situated very close to the airport and this is helpful for folks waiting on their flights. Along with various snacks, like popcorn, the USO also provides one of the most important beverages that has marched with armies for centuries – COFFEE! Sweet, bitter coffee! The plus here for getting coffee at the USO is that it all comes from and, I believe, has been donated by Starbucks. So, as one could imagine, when it is time to caffeine-up on a cold, dreary day, the Pat Tillman USO is the place to be. Another very nice thing that the USO does whereever you find one, is they sponsor the United Through Reading Program. This program enables servicemen to read story books to their children or other young relatives while using a DVD recorder. The USO provides a wide variety of books from which to select. These range from Dr. Seuss to Christian books and on to coloring books. One has about 30 minutes of recording time each visit and can go approximately once a week. I made my tenth recording today, the 2nd of February. It is a pretty neat deal. My children, especially my oldest, highly anticipate these packages that the USO sends them. The USO pays and does all of the leg work to get these packages home. The serviceman pays nothing. So, at bedtime, the girls can have Daddy read them a bedtime story. I also save enough time on the DVD to make evening prayers at the end of the recording. This really helps us all feel better connected, even though we are so many miles apart. Hopefully, I’ll get at least one more in before the trip home. Well, as you can tell, my mind and heart are on home. I’m counting the days down and really look forward to being back in the Magnolia State. My goal, after being away from loved ones and friends, is to attempt to truly appreciate all of the abundant gifts our Lord has given us and to not waste a day or the breath that He gave us. I would like to especially thank Bethel United Methodist Church, Beech Hill Church of Christ, and any other Churches that have remembered my family and me in any special way. You will never know how much we appreciate your prayers. God bless you all. Sincerely, Christopher J M Cummins, MD Captain, USAR Magnolia State Family Medicine Serving in Bagram, Afghanistan Christopher J M Cummins, MD, Captain, USAR of Magnolia State Family Medicine in Ripley is currently serving in Bagram, Afghanistan. He writes a weekly letter to the readers of the Southern Sentinel, to share his experiences overseas.

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