By Chris Fowler
What do Memphis, Tennessee, and Kuwait City, Kuwait have in common? No, it’s not the BBQ or blues music. These two cities, while being 7,203 miles apart, are where Brock Carlson – a Marine Corps veteran and former amphibious assault expert – has spent several of his holidays over the years.
Carlson currently serves as talent acquisition manager for FedEx Logistics, the global freight-forwarding and logistics company headquartered in Memphis, but he spent the holidays away from home twice during his four years of service.
His first deployment to Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm was also the first time he had ever spent that special time separated from his family and friends. That distance made Carlson feel lonely, but the USO brightened his time there and was always by his side. While deployed, Carlson received a USO holiday care package from home that really lifted his morale, and while there may not have been Memphis BBQ in that care package, its contents were much-needed in a resource-scarce environment.
“You can’t just walk up to a convenience store to pick up your favorite snack,” Carlson said, explaining the challenges of deployment. “To have someone send that to you — to not only have the item, but to know that someone is thinking of you and cares enough to send it to the other side of the world — means a lot.”
Today, Carlson’s work at FedEx has brought his experiences with USO care packages full circle, as the company is a staunch supporter of the USO and its #USOHolidays campaign. The campaign – which can include everything from USO holiday care packages, to phone calls home, to gingerbread house-making competitions in Afghanistan – aims to support service members and their families throughout the holiday season.
“It’s important to take care of a community who takes care of us. I didn’t understand everything it took — how many people are involved and how much planning happens — to help collect and package these goods, and send them across the world,” Carlson said. “Now, being on the other side of it, I wish I knew then how these were packed with enthusiasm and how so many folks back home were deploying their care to the few of us downrange.”
FedEx has been a USO partner for nearly 20 years, helping “Deliver Goodness” year-round and especially throughout the #USOHolidays season. In 2019 alone, the USO sent over 30,000 packages to our deployed service members, 12,000 of which were packed by FedEx employees at an employee volunteer event.
This holiday season, hundreds of thousands of service members will remain on duty, miles away from everything familiar. Because of generous donors like you, the USO is able to connect these brave men and women – just like Brock Carlson – back to their family, friends and a sense of home, just when they need it most, you can help deliver a piece of home to our nation’s heroes for the holidays.