I often get emails from friends who forward notes to me that tell sad stories of sick children or of people caught in a house fire suffering from horrible burns. Just the other day, I received a note telling me to send a holiday greeting card to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center addressed to “Any Wounded Soldier” to cheer the troops during their recovery. Just like the George Arlington Hoax, the Jasmine Thomas Hoax, and others like it, the “Any Wounded Soldier” email is a hoax.
What a shame, I thought, when I did my research to find out this note was yet another hoax. I wanted it to be true. I thought it would be a great project for my Girl Scout Troop. But, when I read further, it made complete sense to me. Despite the good intentions of most people wanting to cheer up a wounded soldier, if the Medical Center accepted unaddressed mail, it could open our servicemen and women up to harm from those with ill intentions. Security is very tight these days, and should be to protect our soldiers.
Here is a statement from the United States Postal Service regarding the “Any Wounded Soldier” email.
You can only send mail to a United States wounded soldier if you have the name and address. Programs that allowed people to send mail to service members unknown to them were discontinued following the terrorist attacks of 2001. Mail addressed as “Any Service Member,” “Any Soldier, Sailor, etc.” will not be accepted. If this mail is deposited into a collection box it will be returned to sender. Items without return addresses are opened in our Mail Recovery Center Network to determine the sender’s address. If it is impossible to determine the sender’s address, we donate care items to local charities.
But, there is a glimmer of hope for people who want to do something kind for our soldiers. Through the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes, you can participate in the Holiday Mail for Heroes program. You still won’t know the names of soldiers, but the sponsoring organizations will open and inspect all cards and then get them in the hands of our soldiers. Holiday cards will be collected through a unique P.O. Box address through Monday, December 7.
Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456
According to the American Red Cross, it is important to follow these guidelines:
• Sign all cards
• Entitle cards “Dear Service Member, Family or Veteran”
• Limit cards to 15 per person or 50 for school class or business group
• Bundle groups of cards in single, large envelopes
• There is no need to include individual envelopes and postage for cards
• Send letters or packages
• Include personal information such as home or email addresses
• Use glitter – it can aggravate health issues of wounded recipients
• Include inserts of any kind
If you want to go beyond a simple holiday greeting and send phone cards, gift cards, or other care packages to our military, check out the United States Department of Defense Community Relations link below for a long list of approved organizations. Either way, be sure to send your cards to the right place and know that your good intentions are being put to good use.
And don’t forward that email if you get it in your inbox. Instead, let the sender know the right way to send holiday greetings to our troops. And have a fantastic holiday.
American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes Program
List of approved support military programs, like care packages for the troops, through the United States Department of Defense Community Relations site
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