We hear a lot about the conditions in Iraq and what our soldiers have to deal with. We spoke with one Third Infantry Division soldier, on his third deployment to Iraq, who says morale in Iraq is good.
And he ought to know. It's his job to keep soldiers' spirits up.
As the top enlisted advisor to the division commander, Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews shakes a lot of hands and slaps a lot of backs of soldiers throughout the division.
As he told soldiers at Forward Operating Base Butler Range, he want "to make sure that I continue to accentuate the positive, the outstanding performance of all the soldiers of Task Force Marne."
Aside from training and discipline, he's responsible for soldiers' morale. "I circulate the battlefield in our operational environment to go see the soldiers where they're at on the ground," he told us in a satellite interview today. "To just give them some love if you will.
"That's just a small piece of what I do, trying to get out and about and tell them thank you from the leadership of Third ID, let them know we appreciate what they do."
Sometimes that appreciation takes a more solemn form, like a recent visit to a hospital.
"I actually went to the hospital that day to visit one soldier who was suffering from a hand injury," he said, "and as fate would have it, we had some terrible things happen in our operational environment that day."
An IED went off, wounded several soldiers from Task Force Marne. Among the wounded was someone familiar.
"One of my own soldiers from OIF One unfortunately was one of the injuries as a result of the IED blast," Sgt. Maj. Andrews told us. "I actually got to pin a Purple Heart on one of the soldiers."
While he might wish it never happens to another soldier, Andrews says he was honored to be there that day.
Andrews says he couldn't do his job without what he calls incredible support from people on the home front. He says the Savannah and Hinesville communities in particular have been great for his troops' morale.