|Sending Solace to Soldiers
December 6, 2005
Nikki Vega, a 2000 graduate of Calvin College, is encouraging Calvin students to write letters to American soldiers stationed in Iraq.
Vega, who has returned to Calvin for the 2005-06 school year to earn a teaching certificate, created the “Letters to Soldiers” project this Christmas to provide American service men and women with a little Christmas correspondence.
“Letters to Soldiers” is a simple effort. Vega asked Calvin students, faculty and staff to write a letter, addressed simply “Dear Soldier,” place it in a stamped envelope, and drop it in the collection box outside the Student Senate office.
Her first batch of 25 letters is on its way now to U.S. soldiers.
She says the effort is not political and it's not for or against the war.
"It’s just to help the soldiers," she says.
Vega (originally Nikki Farrow) earned her bond with the military through her own service as a paralegal in charge of criminal trial defense in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in Bavaria, Germany. She met her husband, Angel, through her military service, and it was because of a complicated pregnancy that they returned to the states. Vega came home because she didn't think her daughter (now two years old) would live if she didn't. They returned home on the eve of the Iraq war.
And though she is grateful that her family is intact and safe, Vega remains preoccupied with her former comrades-in-arms.
“When you vow to protect someone’s life and they in turn do the same for your life …,” she says, leaving the thought unfinished.
“They’re there because they’re ordered to go there,” Vega says firmly. “I’m doing whatever I can to encourage them as they keep their commitments. It helps to know that people support you.”
Vega’s commitment to her fellow soldiers is what spurred her letter-writing initiative.
Vega and her husband, who now works at the Walker reserve center as a distance learning center manager, also plan activities for local veterans.
Vega hopes the Calvin community, despite any convictions they may have about the war, will remain supportive of soldiers.
“It is so much more complicated to understand than it is to sit at home and judge,” she says. “Soldiers are among the most underpaid, overworked and misunderstood people in the country—and often forgotten or ignored. There are so many people risking so much so far away from family and friends. If I can do anything to make their lives better, I will."
~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson
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