A Few Great Websites To Help You Support The Troops…
Any Soldier.com – Back in the WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam, Americans back home could send a care package to the troops by not listing a specific name or address but by simply putting the phrase “Any Soldier” on the mailing address and Uncle Sam would do the rest to get the box in the hands of someone serving in uniform. Now, because of safety, that is not allowed. Senders must have an exact name and address of a member of the military in order to mail a box overseas. The group, Any Soldier.com, solved this problem by marrying up the names and addresses of military men and women with wonderfully giving people back home.
America Supports You – America Supports You, one of many initiatives managed by the Office of Community Relations, is intended to communicate citizen support to the men and women serving in the Armed Forces and their families. One great resource that lists a lot of different groups writing and sending packages to troops overseas is America Supports You’s Homefront Groups.
The Fisher House – Fisher House Foundation donates “comfort homes,” built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.
Operation Gratitude – Operation Gratitude seeks to lift morale and put smiles on faces by through letter writing campaigns, collection drives, and sending care packages addressed to individual Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed in harm’s way.
USO – I love the USO. The USO does more than put on great concerts for the troops. The USO has an extensive range of programs at more than 150 centers in 27 countries that support the members of the military and their families back home. USO centers operate to provide a place to unwind, to connect to families back home or whatever else is needed to ease the burden. Even if you are not able to volunteer on a regular basis, local USO centers often have programs and events that need your support.
The Best Kept Secret To Finding A Soldier To Write To…
If you really want to write to a Soldier, Airmen, Sailor, or Marine in search of a pen pal, the best way to find those military members is to ask another person in the military to recommend someone to you. Asking for someone’s specific name and address through a mutual acquaintance is one of the best ways to find a member of the military who does not receive much mail while overseas and may be in need of a pen pal. I had a radio operator during my first deployment to Iraq who did not receive much mail from home. So, one day I happened mentioned that fact to my mother. The next thing I new, she and all of her coworkers quickly made that young private the most popular Soldier at mail call on the entire base for the next month. He got so much mail that he begged me to ask my mom and her friends to slow down sending him packages.
Things To Consider When Writing To Members Of The Military
- The men and women of the military who have served or are serving overseas have seen and been through a lot. They may not want to talk about it especially with a stranger. So, don’t dig too deep and don’t take their avoidance of war topics personally. But, that does not mean that they do not want to talk about other topics.
- Letters are great but don’t overdo it with packages. The combat zones are so establishes now that most members of the military can buy much of what they need or miss from home.
- If you do mail a package, make sure that you do not include anything that will melt and pack the box so it can survive being thrown off a second story balcony to the ground below. You wouldn’t think it, but the mail in Iraq and Afghanistan is not handled with kid gloves at all times.
- It takes a long time for mail to reach Iraq and Afghanistan. If you are going to mail a Soldier a box for the holidays, you need to do it soon in order to ensure that it gets delivered by Christmas.
- Do not bother sending packages overseas through the USPS’s Express Mail. It won’t get there that much faster than ordinary priority or first class mail.
Any mail is better than no mail for a member of the military that is thousands of miles away from home. Many of these young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have never been so far away from their loved ones and friends. The programs listed above are a great starting source for anyone looking for a military pen pal or who wants to help support the troops.
Photos courtesy of CPT Hank Coleman
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