Here is the thank you letter from SSG Nelson:
Dear Ms. Ventura and Class,
Thank you so much for sending the care packages. We just received them last night which would have been your daytime. There seemed to be something for everybody in the packages. We really appreciate your support. I read some of the letters and pictures from your students. They were great!
My name is Staff Sergeant Mike Nelson. I am the Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of nursing here at the 2nd Forward Surgical Team. As our Any Soldier page says, we are a specialized surgical team. Helping Soldiers and other service members including our Afghan counterparts when they are critically wounded and in need. I may have published on our page that we have a 97+% survival rate if they show up and are still alive. We are not at a regular hospital as we are far forward attached to a Special Forces team.
We had some rain last night that turned into snow so all of the mountain peaks are white. We share the small camp, which is probably smaller than your school grounds with approximately 70 personnel including the Afghans. I consolidated all of the candy into one large box and put it in the chow hall for everyone to enjoy.
Our unit is from Fort Carson in Colorado Springs Colorado. We are supposed to be back there in early March. I have a wife and 5 children, 4 boys and 1 girl. My oldest is 22 and my youngest is 10. My oldest is in college then 2 in high school, 1 in middle school and the youngest in elementary school. It is tough on them because over my ten years in the Army I have missed 4 christmas' and lots of birthdays.
With the fighting season over and the drawdown now in high gear it is pretty boring. We went out to the range to keep our shooting skills sharp. We did have a scare the other day that our camp may be attacked and the enemy chickened out. We are always ready in case something happens. Most of our patients thus far have been Afghan Soldiers and Police.
If you remember in the news a couple of months ago about a school bus that the Taliban hit with a bomb, we helped those patients. It was a little nerve racking when kids started showing up for surgery. We helped save some of their lives.
Afghanistan is a strange and mysterious place. There are a lot of people just like us. They want to live their lives, go to work, go to school and live peacefully. Then there are the people who side with the Taliban. They want to treat women like property instead of people and are simply ruthless when it comes to violence. Hopefully we can stabilize this nation enough that when we leave it won't fall back into the hands of these barbaric people.
If you would like to follow our unit our facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/#!/2ndForwardSurgicalTeam . I have attached a couple of pictures. The first is of the whole team. We have had a couple of doctors and nurses come and go since but pretty much the same basic team. The second picture is of my section, from left to right is Me (SSG Nelson), SPC Ben Clarke, SPC Lauren Connelly and our Chief Nurse Major Rachel Stratman. The Facebook page has a lot more pictures including some from back at Fort Carson.
I think I have kept this email G-rated enough to share with your class, feel free. Again, thanks for all of the support that you and your class give us. We chose to be here b ut do it for you and the love of our country. If you are still allowed to say the pledge of allegience, do so proudly because you know there are people out there that defend what it stands for... Freedom.
SSG Mike Nelson
2nd Forward Surgical Team
Camp Peppers, Afghanistan