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Dear Secretary Gates....

Oh my. Imagine my surprise at the outpouring of email when I made public the letter that I sent Secretary Gates last week. In fact, many of you sent suggestions of other things that need to brought to Secretary Gate's attention. Well, I live to serve. Ladies - we're going to continue to fight the good fight. Think of me as your personal liaison to Secretary Gates. I'll bridge the gap and make sure our voices are heard.

Dear Secretary Gates,

Sometimes the most amazing things happen. I, for one, believe that things happen for a reason, not by accident. Last week, I made public the letter that I recently sent you. Oh, by the way, I am still awaiting a response. When I called to follow-up with your secretary.... Oh wait, that's funny, "Hi, I'm Secretary Gate's secretary, may I help you?" I don't think I like that, it doesn't flow very well. But then again, I'm a modern woman and I'm well aware that "secretary" is so 1994 and the hip, new term is "assistant." So, where was I? Honestly, sometimes I just get so sidetracked. I think I'm just tired and overwhelmed with my new responsibilities to military wives. They tell me their troubles and I convey them to you. I think it's a great idea, but it's a big job and it's going to keep me (and you) very busy.

Anyway, your "assistant" told me that you answer correspondence in order of importance and I do know that Russia has been behaving badly lately and well, the Middle East has some problems, too. I did the math and figure that my letter should be answered any day now. By the way, don't let that topless picture of Vladimir Putin intimidate you. He's not all that. My husband is a Ranger (and he has much better abs than Vladie) and he could take him in a Texas-style cage match. With his bare hands. In fact, if you need my husband's help, don't hesitate to ask. Oh, there I go again, getting sidetracked.

Okay, anyway, I told you all about the color wheel last week. Well, it set off a firestorm among military spouses. A firestorm, I tell ya... Seems the paint in the housing areas is just all kinds of wrong. Secretary Gates, go home and ask Mrs. Gates if she would have liked to have white, flat paint on her walls when all the kids were growing up. I'll let her take it from there. Come to think of it, maybe I should be corresponding with her too. I suggest the three of us do lunch sometime soon.

In short, this paint fiasco must be corrected at once. And, as usual, I will offer my services. In addition to naming the paint colors on the new sticker color wheel, I can name the paint colors for housing. I say we just go for nice, neutral colors which will appeal to everyone, but colors which would promote unity and support for the mission. I already have some ideas.

Baghdad Beige

Tigris Tan

Basra Brown

Kuwait Khaki (in honor of our liberation of Kuwait) 

Well, I think that'll do it for now. I can not tell you how happy I am that military spouses are starting to learn of my special relationship with you. You won't believe all the email I've received. These ladies are chock full of complaints ideas. You and I will be corresponding for months. Isn't that great?

In fact, now might be a good time to suggest that I have an office assigned to me at the Pentagon. I don't need much space and it doesn't have to be fancy-schmancy, plus, as you know, I'm fully capable of decorating it myself. I'm not demanding, but there is one thing I won't tolerate - those pens. However, I'm very confident that you will soon take care of that little problem for us (wink, wink). I was thinking it would be good for both of us if my office is as close to yours as possible. I've been to that big Pentagon building before and let me tell you, if we're too far apart, I'll get lost trying to get to our meetings. I'd be wondering around in circles for hours trying to find you and we'd never get any business sorted out. Since we'll be working together over the next few months, I think this is the perfect solution. Plus, when Mrs. Gates stops by, we could have some brainstorming sessions, just the three of us. I see "productivity" written all over our new relationship. This is gonna be fun. I can hardly wait. And I know what you're thinking, "where has Andi been all my life?" Well, I'm here now, sir and I'm honored to be your new military wife liaison.

That reminds me..... Guess what? I have "people" now. I had several volunteers step up. It's nice to have people. I like having people. But what good is having people if I don't have a title? Now, I'm not high maintenance and I know that a title is just a title, but I think in order to lend some legitimacy to my new position, and to show military spouses that you are serious about fixing their problems, I really need a title. I mean, how am I supposed to get anyone's attention if I don't have a title? What am I supposed to say, "I'm Andi and I am Secretary Gate's right-hand lady." That just won't cut the mustard. I'm not sure people would take me seriously. So maybe, "Under Secretary for Military Spouse Affairs." I think that sounds good. I'm happy with that. Good, I'm glad that's sorted out.

Well, I'm going to get back to my email now. The requests are just pouring in. At this rate, we'll be corresponding weekly. I know, I know - please try to contain your excitement. If you let out a great big "yea," people might think that we just killed every last one of those Al Qaeda troublemaking thugs or something.

Andi

p.s. If you decide you need my husband to help you with that Russian problem, please don't let him know that I volunteered his services. I still haven't told him about that other letter I sent you.  He's quite modest. It's best that he think he was chosen because of his abs abilities, and not because his wife pulled some strings with her newest, bestest buddy, Secretary Gates.

My husband never discusses military secrets with me, and he doesn't even talk in his sleep so I don't know anything. If he comes home one day soon and says he has to go on a mission and he can't tell me about it, I'll just play along like I don't really know what's up. I only ask that you give him a day to go souvenir shopping. After the mission is complete, of course. I really need some of these and these and Russia has great shopping. You can buy all kinds of things cheap. A dollar goes a loonnngggg way there and I would just be tickled pink if he were able to buy some Russian souvenirs. Plus, you can negotiate. I mean, have you ever pranced into The Hallmark store and said, "How about I give you $15 for this $25 item? I did once. We had just returned from Mexico and were used to bartering and I thought, "you never know until you try." The sales clerk called store security and it was just a really bad scene. I'll tell you all about it over lunch...

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