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ND students send letters to GIs

Justin Tardiff | Monday, February 23, 2004

When 1st Lt. Christopher Brusznicki wrote a general request to the Notre Dame athletic community for letters and care packages for his fellow troops stationed in Iraq, he never expected members of the Army ROTC to step in and lead the effort.However, when Cadet Kerstin Palm read the letter, she knew it was something that the group should be involved in, and brought the letter to the attention of the newly-formed service organization within the Army ROTC. Its leader, junior Patrick Robinson, immediately saw the request as an opportunity to give back to the servicemen in Iraq.”We had special ties to [Brusznicki], since he graduated from Notre Dame in 2002 and was a member of the Army ROTC program, so we really wanted to help him out,” Robinson said.In the letter, Brusznicki, Platoon Leader for the 82nd Airborne Division, described the conditions where he is stationed in Fallujah, Iraq optimistically, but added that news and items from home were needed to keep the soldiers’ spirits up.”Morale is getting to be pretty low due to our receiving the news of our extension literally only a few days before Christmas,” Brusznicki wrote. “I am hoping that you might be able to send to the men of my platoon letters of encouragement or whatever ND athletic souvenirs you can spare. I don’t need anything as the Dome is always in my heart and my girlfriend has already sent me a lovely ‘Play Like a Champion Today’ towel that sustains me through many tough moments.”Robinson and the rest of the service organization worked to write letters to and put together care packages for the 18 members of Brusznicki’s platoon, even collecting donations at the ROTC’s dining-in event. The final product contained everything from Notre Dame shirts to saltines and was sent out last week.As service overseas stands just a few years away, the project took on special significance for Robinson and his fellows. “Honestly, it’s just one of those things where, from our position in ROTC, we could be in their same situation a few years from now,” he said. “It’s nice to know they have support back home, so that we will too someday.” Student senator and member of the Army ROTC Drew Sandstrum presented the letter at last Wednesday’s Senate meeting, requesting that his fellow senators start letter-writing campaigns in their dorms.”If anyone knows anyone overseas with the Army, we can get their mailing address through the Army Knowledge Online database,” Sandstrum explained. “This would be a great way to show support for Domers in the military.”