Saturday, July 30, 2011

August Reading Challenge - Bring Me Heroes! Plus an interview with Tamara in Afghanistan

Coast Guard Heroes

Early in the summer, my friend Anna suggested I add a Reading Challenge to my blog.   After some thought on how to make this unique (like me), here's the plan:

1.  On the first day of the the month, I will announce the "theme" for you to consider as you read any books.

In August, it is "Bring Me Heroes" in honor of the month's notable celebrations:  US Coast Guard's birthday, William Wallace's Legacy and Duke Kahanamoku's birthday.

We are starting early because I already have a guest scheduled for August 1.

Sports heroes - Duke Kahanamoku and Babe Ruth

2.  On the last day of the month, I will solicit your comments about the theme - for August, what heroes (or heroines) inspired you in the books you read throughout the month?

3.  Each Saturday will spotlight the theme - for August, I am spotlighting real heroes who inspired me.

Tamara and her "joint" team

Today I spotlight a heroine who inspires me - Tamara in Afghanistan!  She is a Navy doctor and romance reader.   Tamara joins us for an intimate interview:  

Kim:  What has been the biggest challenge and reward during your deployment?

Tamara:  There have been several challenges in this deployment but the biggest one is trying to provide US standard health care with supply shortages constantly. We have run out of gloves, gauze, tape, crutches, syringes, sterile gowns, etc at one time or another.

One of the biggest rewards is our blossoming mentorship program with the Afghan National Army health care team. When we arrived, they didn't participate in any training with us. Now we have 6-8 of them show up every morning eager to learn and help us care for their comrades in arms as well as their countrymen. We provide didactic as well as hands on skill training in multiple areas and nothing is more satisfying then helping them.

Kim:  What have you learned about the Afghan people?

Tamara:  The Afghans are a very proud and stoic people. They have a great sense of humor, but it takes a lot to get a smile out of them. They have an intense sense of community, every patient has at least on person with them at all times helping them. When there are multiple patients on the ward from all over the country, it doesn't matter, they become their own village and defer to the eldest member. They look out for and care for one another even if they are strangers.

Kim:  How can readers support deployed personnel?

Tamara:  As a medical team we are a fixed structure and don't go on missions. The people who go on missions like to have travel size hygiene products to take with them.  When we receive those supplies we save for patients and take to the MWR tent for other soldiers to pick up.

It is very hot in the summer and we drink a lot of bottled water. Everyone likes flavoring for this and if it can replenish salt, that is even better. Snacks like beef jerky, nuts, non-chocolate candy (melts), trail mix, meals that you can make in a microwave or adding hot water to are very appreciated. Ziploc bags in all sizes, air freshener, extra socks (for boots or tennis shoes), and sunblock.

Specifically for our patients: large diapers (we have pediatric patients, but no supply chain for them), toys, clean used kids clothes, adult and child flip-flops. 

Mahalo, Tamara, for giving us a glimpse of deployed life.   I salute you and your team for serving the US personnel and Afghan people!  

Today's giveaway is for Tamara - a box of the items listed above.  If you are interested in sending a box to Tamara, please contact me at for her mailing address.

Meanwhile, I welcome comments from you - do you know someone currently deployed?  Do you have (or have you had) a deployed "pen pal"?    What would you miss from home if you deployed?


Kim in Hawaii 

Romance readers on deployment!


  1. What a fabulous post. I work in Early Childhood. We always have children from the local army base, often the Father's are overseas. We provide as much support for the families as we can. My Mother helps the Red Cross put together packages to send overseas where ever they may be needed.

  2. I send goodie boxes to our troops and one of the items that I also include are the Crystal Light and freeze pops!

    Wonderful interview and Thank You Tamara for all that you are doing in keeping us free. God Love You.

  3. Loved this post. My brother's best friend deployed again last month. My older brother was in Iraq and after getting shot in his leg is now home for good. Sending goodie boxes to them is a great way to help.

  4. Hello Ladies out of all the Interviews You have done since my sign up The heros are my favorite.
    God bless you Tamara .
    When my nephew was over in Afghanistan ( Canadian Police ) I would add to the box that his Sister would send usually Socks and tubs of goodie ( candy) I work in a retail store when I was talking to my Store Manager about this she let my bye these at a discounted price , A few of my fellow workers added items as well. He is now home for good . He is keeping contact with a group that we will still keep supplying items to.
    God bless all our men & women...

  5. I remember doing those packages during the Vietnam war. Now I go through my American Legion which sends all kinds of things and one of my favorites is passing on books. It's nice to know someone like Tamara may get some take away time reading romances.


  6. Great interview! Thanks Tamara, for your service and for sharing.
    Thanks, Kim for the post.

  7. Wonderful interview Tamara!! Please stay safe!!! I had a friend who's son was in Iraq and we used to send him boxes of stuff every couple of months and always made sure he had enough to share with his friends. It is so important that we remember these people who could use our help.

    Thanks Kim for the great post! I love the hero idea, will be checking out my books now!!

  8. Great post and a wonderful idea. I heard, I don't remember where, that you could not send romance books to the troops - does anyone know if that is true? Does anyone know what kinds of books are permitted?
    I don't know anyone who is deployed, nor have I ever had a deployed penpal. I would miss air conditioning the most, I think - I don't really do well in the heat! ;o)

  9. Thanks to Tamara for her service. I don't know anyone who is currently deployed.

  10. My grandson-in-law is serving his third deployment to Afghanistan.

  11. My SIL did two tours. One in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. I was always sending boxes of stuff.

    What I would miss the most: privacy. Everything else is window dressing. I am thankful each and every day for our Troops.

    Heroes, okay, I can do that!

  12. I am so thankful to all of our military personnel. My cousin served in the middle East and I am so proud of him and so happy that he made it back home. I have not had a pen pal in the military but would like to. I think it is great that you are getting care packages together. Such a great thing to do.

  13. I have known some people that have been deployed - but don't have any penpals in the service - never have.

    I think I would miss the freedom of being able to do whatever I wanted - whenever I wanted- I'm pretty sure I could not handle the weather or living conditions either.

    Great post!

  14. A great interview, Tamara! I met several Afghans who where here in Germany as exchange students for one term and it was interesting to hear about their culture and way of living.

    I once tried to build up a pen pal friendship with a deployed soldier, but I think the German post service somehow lost the letter. I think they had problems with the addy. Unfortunately.

  15. @Karen-romance novels are perfectly okay to send troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. During both of my deployments I received care packages of books from different romance authors and I bought a crap-ton of romance books both from the PX and via online sellers. I also purchased erotic print and e-books and there was no problem with shipping or downloading them.

    What isn't okay to send are items labeled as pornographic.

    So, if you're moved to send romance novels to deployed troops, go right ahead -- the troops who read them will be ecstatic.

  16. Thank you, Sue V. for answering my question about the books. As a book lover, it pains me to let my books go, but I can't think of a better place for them to be.

    And thank you for your service!