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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Netroots For the Troops Readying Care Packages for Service Members Overseas

A real thrill tonight to have a turn as a guest poster for the Netroots For The Troops [on facebook] series over at Daily Kos.

NFTT is a collaborative of online bloggers who came together at last years' Netroots Nation Convention, having collected donations and purchased needed care package items in advance, to pack boxes and ship them to soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. By all accounts, it was a smashing success. So why mess with success?

They're at it again, and seeking our help in being able to send out even more necessary items to our men and women serving overseas. From my Daily Kos diary:

Thanks for clicking on the latest NFTT installment, a dual-purpose diary!

What a great honor for me, to get a chance to do this. I want to thank all of you who've made NFTT into the positive force that it is. I had to miss last year's Netroots Nation, but will be there this year (look for me on the Organizing as a Healing Process: A Fresh Perspective on PTSD panel).

I'm looking forward to participating in NFTT physically this time.

But, since I couldn't be there in '08, it felt good to toss a few coins into the bucket.

Sure, it wasn't the same as having the chance to roll up my sleeves and get to work with everyone (I heard it was one of the more memorable goings-on at NN08, and I don't doubt it; kudos to everyone involved in fueling and propelling NFTT forward). Not everyone can make it in person.

But, being there in spirit and/or contribution is a nourishment for the soul -- and the goal, too. So, please join in, in whatever way you can. Every little bit helps.

The rest of my diary included my earlier Stephen Colbert/IAVA petition update that I shared with you here (the number of signatures is now hovering around the 14,880 mark), and more on NFTT (and lots of comments...some silly, as I catch up with old blogger friends I haven't 'seen' in a while).

I'm planning to take lots of photos at Netroots Nation this year (as I have in the past -- see my slideshows in extended), which will be held in Pittsburgh from August 13-16. I'll be sure to pass those on to you here, too.

Blogger TexDem posted recently on the continuing care package effort over at VetVoice:

Some of you may remember NFTT from last year, for the rest here's the basics. We assembled 130 Care packages at Netroots Nation in Austin last August. Among those in the room were VetVoice's own Brandon Friedman, Richard Smith and Alex Horton. They can testify to it's success.

We sent some pretty premium product last year as well as the usual Care Package items. This year we want to focus on the premium and increase those products. Among those last year were; Mechanix gloves, gel insoles, phone cards, a small LED keyring flashlight, CDs, DVDs and books etc. This year we've dropped the books and sundries. We're told they get enough sundries etc. from home. And there is a better outlet for books. We want to use that space for more premium items.

On a somewhat related note, last year's Netroots Nation Conference included a talk on Milblogging: How the Troops' Writing Affects Our View of the War -- a panel I missed because I wasn't able to attend and am only now finding online.

The topic was right up my alley as it was a major element in my NIU Capstone research this past semester.

Panel details:

Military blogs (milblogs) have played an increasingly important role in not only the dissemination of battlefield information in real time, but also in shaping how Americans view the troops and the wars in which they’re fighting. In recent years, milblogs both supportive and critical of the war effort in Iraq have sprung up across the blogosphere. Some, like VetVoice and Blackfive, have even evolved into online communities for troops and veterans. This panel will explore the implications of milblogs on military policy by discussing them with three veterans who blog and a traditional media military reporter.


Kevin Maurer has been embedded with the U.S. Special Forces and 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan and Iraq ten times in the last five years. Maurer covered the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan's first parliamentary election. Most recently, he covered the Bush Administration's surge into Baghdad, and wrote the definitive piece about the transformation of Khost from a terrorist haven to a working province in Afghanistan. He currently works for the Associated Press.

Alex Horton created and maintains the blog Army of Dude and writes for He lives in Austin, TX, but says "No, you cannot crash on my couch during the convention."

Richard Smith enlisted in the US Army at the age of 18. In 2007, he deployed to Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division and served as a non-commissioned officer for 14 months. During this deployment, he began blogging from the front lines on the blog "VetVoice" under pseudonym "RockRichard". Richard has also written at Daily Kos, Attackerman, the defunct Wordsmiths blog, and the randomly updated Rock the Boat. He has been quoted or featured in the Wall Street Journal, New Yorker magazine, the Washington Independent, on Air America Radio, Indie Talk Radio, and several other media outlets.

A vice chairman of, Brandon Friedman is editor of the blog VetVoice and author of "The War I Always Wanted." Brandon served as an infantry officer in the Army's 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he was involved in ground combat on a number of occasions. Friedman's writing has been featured on new media outlets to include the UK's Guardian Unlimited, The Huffington Post, and Daily Kos among others. He has also appeared on ABC, CNN, MSNBC, and C-SPAN. Brandon holds a master's degree in public policy and administration from the University of Texas at Dallas.

YearlyKos 2006 (Las Vegas)

YearlyKos 2007 (Chicago)

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