*Putting aside football for part of the offseason, Aaron Kampman recently returned from one of the most important journeys of his life, assisting the Christian Organization, UPI (Unlimited Potential, Inc.), in sharing the message of Christianity to U.S. troops stationed in Mannheim, Germany.
Kampman recently checked in with Packers.com to tell us about his trip and share some of his photos with Packers fans. He appreciates the hospitality all the troops showed him while he was there and wishes them all the best of luck and a safe return back to the States.*
by Aaron Kampman, special to Packers.com
Well, Linde and I recently returned from an amazing week in Germany where we had the opportunity to share our faith with some of the troops that are stationed in Mannheim. Mannheim is a military community located in the southwestern part of Germany, about 60 miles south of Frankfurt and 15 miles northwest of Heidelberg, in the German state of Baden-Wurtenburg.
In all there were about 21 different functions during the week where we both had the opportunity to speak with many of the troops. The week culminated with a national prayer breakfast at which I was honored to be the keynote speaker.
My faith is very important to me and it's a blessing to be able to play football in the NFL and to have the chance to go on trips like this to share with the men and women that are serving our country.
Visiting with the troops really opens your eyes and helps you realize that they need our support while they are over there. They need that and they appreciate that.
We met some wonderful people in the Army hospital, including the soldiers that had just returned from "down range," which is their term for the soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Once a soldier is wounded or becomes sick that solider is sent to the hospital for treatment before being sent back "down range" or back to the States.
From there, we went to a military prison on the base. We got a chance to share with some of the guys being held there. That was a great experience. On Sunday, we had the chance to go to a chapel service and I was able to give the message in the service, which was also a great experience. We also ran a baseball clinic for kids and visited and an airborne division where we saw a Blackhawk helicopter.
One of the other highlights was visiting with some of the students on the base. It's an all-encompassing army base, so everything that they need or want is there on the base, including the schools.
The most amazing part about this trip was the young men and women that we met, usually no older than in their twenties. These men and women are such an inspiration. There are some stories that they shared that really impacted me. I mean, it is really something to hear about how some of them have lost so much, including some of their close friends. It is about as real as real can be. Yet, they love their country and believe in what they are doing
There was also one soldier that had just returned from spending a year in Iraq. I spent some time with him and I listened to him as he told me about what he was experiencing in the transition back into life on the base. He told some stories of what they went through on a day to day basis, having to always be on guard and not knowing if that day was going to be their last. Can you imagine having to be alert 24 hours a day?
It just really opens your eyes to how much we need to appreciate these soldiers and what they are sacrificing over there. They are the REAL heroes.
The soldiers over there were really similar to a football team. They all seemed to have this cohesiveness about them. They were all working together for one common goal.
Another great part of the trip was seeing the amount of Packers fans that were there. There were tons of them, tons. Those guys are watching our games whenever they can and it brings them a lot of happiness to see the game and cheer us on. Some of them are really are hard core fans. One guy even showed me his tattoo of the Packers 'G' on his arm. It was really neat to know that they're all supporting us from over there.
This was an amazing trip, Linde and I are so blessed to have been able to be a part of it. I want to thank all of the soldiers and the men and women that we met there for everything they're doing and let them know that we're behind them 100%.