The Special Operations Group (of the US Border Patrol) mission is to train, organize, equip, and rapidly deploy skilled, prepared, and dedicated personnel worldwide in order to protect America. Our special operators are the best-trained tactical, search and rescue, and intelligence agents in Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security. Our personnel are on constant call for all types of contingencies from Civil Disturbance Operations in cities across America, to responding to Immigrant Caravans, High Risk Warrants, Hurricanes, Floods, providing medical care in any type of weather condition, and technical rope rescues on the side of a mountain. Our agents are constantly deployed away from their families and in many operations; there is a lot of inherent risk. They have all gone through a rigorous selection process, followed by an exhausting training regimen that only 25% pass, but that is what it takes to take on this type of dangerous work.
Our special operations personnel are consummate professionals; they hold their head up high and do their job while they protect this nation, even though in some cases, they have to deal with constant insults and injuries from projectiles and other explosives thrown at them. I am a retired Special Forces Officer and I am extremely proud of the way our agents conduct themselves, but I also worry about the constant stressors that are piling up along the way. Special operations personnel are not immune to stress, even though they can deal with it much better than the population at large. Our organization is small in nature and we have to depend on a local U.S. Border Patrol Sector to assist our personnel with Chaplain and Peer Support Activities. This is not always easy since our personnel are conducting operations so frequently.
Morale Boosters appeared just at the right time this year and opened up another window to assist our efforts to increase Resiliency within the organization. Tom Langan reached out to us with a great can-do attitude and wanted to thank our guys for their service and what they do, particularly after he heard about what our guys were going through with certain Civil Disturbance Operations in different cities. He got Morale Boosters to sign postcards of thanks for all our operators and we distributed them through the different units. These acts of kindness with a spiritual message that God loves them, and that there is a whole community praying for them and their families, might seem trivial to some but it is powerful. Our special operators do not ask for much, but knowing that people care for them is truly amazing. Morale Boosters sent a Thank You Banner, Peacemaker Bibles (that our operators can fit in their uniform pockets), portable spray sanitizer bottles for family members, and a snow cone machine that was a hit for one of our graduating classes.
We are blessed that Tom called us when he did; his and Morale Boosters’ efforts positively impacted our organization’s resiliency efforts in a short amount of time. I wholeheartedly support this organization’s mission and duty to selfless service for those who proudly protect our nation.
Over the years I have worked to create relationships with our communities to find support and encouragement for the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country. Whether it be for our Military Veterans or our Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs), I have found it difficult to garner what our troops need. The culture that surrounds so much of our politics and way of life is concentrated here in San Diego, California. The normative way is to keep secret what an LEO does, the sacrifices they make. As one can imagine, this shrinks the actual community an LEO lives in; who one can trust, share life with, and bond with is restricted to just a handful of people. What comes as consequences to the evaporating community is chronic stress, relational issues, home wreckage, and a lack of morale to do the job one must do. (LEOs have and continue to live a life of quarantine that only now the rest of the world can appreciate). This is why I have leaned on the Morale Boosters since meeting them almost a year ago from the writing of this letter. The little things can be overlooked by the greater community like appreciation and gratitude, putting smiles on stone faces, and tears around vacant eyes. For many, the simple thank-you cards from Morale Boosters have done more than any other form of morale boosting that has come from within the Patrol.
There has been so much turmoil in our country. So much hate and ignorance has made children into arrogant creatures that carry with them such strife. There have been so many who have shouted what they believe to be great ideas, while never touching foot on the battlefields. As a Chaplain and an Agent, I am on the same sinking boat as the other LEOs and I am being asked to bring hope. If not for God, I could not do this job that He has called me to. I have been called a Nazi, I have lost relationships, and I have seen my family suffer for what I do. And my story is not unique. This is why I believe the best way to break the strife is to create relationships and grow the size of our community. The best place to start is where we can place our trust. It is my hope that Morale Boosters finds a place in your church where we, LEOs, can place our trust. Where we can speak on the issues and trust we will not only be heard, but accepted into the community.
As a Chaplain for the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector, I have been working to combat the many problems that plague Customs and Border Protection personnel. The Chaplains and Peer Support members work with Agents and Officers who struggle with depression, PTSD, marital problems, addictions, domestic violence, and suicide. Socially, many endure opposition from citizens whose misguided hatred is fueled by twisted propaganda against Law Enforcement. The added stress of isolation due to the pandemic has intensified and multiplied these problems among our ranks and their family members.
In the Chaplaincy’s endeavors to assist our personnel, Morale Boosters has been a great ally. They collect letters of support from fellow patriotic Christians, and then deliver them to Border Patrol stations, along with treats and other "morale boosts". Our agents have even received hand painted artwork from the children of those patriotic Christians. Many Border Patrol Stations have also been recipients of snow cone machines donated by Morale Boosters. The organization has also donated hundreds of Peacemaker Bibles to our troops.
I have seen firsthand the uplift engendered among our Agents by the gifts and selfless works of Morale Boosters.