July 4th – Here and There
Mail CallTroops Wait to Hear From Friends Back Home
By Lori Hutzler Eckert
Celebrating the Fourth of July means backyard barbecues, fireworks at the beach and the chance to spend a leisurely summer day with friends and family, all while observing the anniversary of our nation’s independence. But this year, as the war in Iraq continues, the holiday also can serve as a reminder to extend support to our troops overseas.
Many programs have been developed since 2003 to enable civilians to reach out to the men and women serving in the war. These nonprofit organizations offer opportunities to send e-mails, letters and care packages that can make a real difference in the daily life of a deployed U.S. military serviceperson.
“Our personnel represent not only the Air Force and Eglin, but the larger community where they serve,” said Chief Master Sgt. Carol A.M. Dockery of the 96th Air Base Wing Command at Eglin Air Force Base. “So it is always greatly appreciated when citizens reach out to express their support. And it doesn’t have to be a big package, or a package at all. A handwritten card or note has such a positive effect on the morale.
“We appreciate the patriotic spirit of the Emerald Coast, and people thousand of miles removed will get that spirit with that simple yet profound gesture,” Dockery said.
A good place to research options for communicating with the troops is through the U.S. Post Office, usps.com/supportingourtroops, which offers a fact sheet on sending letters and parcels to the military overseas.
Also, anyairman.com, which is recommended by Eglin Air Force Base, informs civilians about items that service personnel request most, including prepaid calling cards, shampoo and soap, socks and protein bars. The site also explains how to send packages, including packing tips, information on custom forms, and where to send them.
Anyaiman.com also offers links to anysoldier.com, anymarine.com, anysailor.com and anynationalguard.com. These volunteer efforts make it a priority to put the packages into the hands of personnel who receive little or no mail.
OperationDearAbby.net – Operation Dear Abby began as a letter-writing campaign in 1967 to connect deployed troops with civilians. The effort found a new home as an e-mail campaign with this site, supported in part by the U.S. Department of Defense.
TreatTheTroops.org – Jeanette Cram has baked more than 450,000 cookies for deployed troops since 1990. Through this site, she accepts addresses of military personnel as well as donations to continue this sweet effort. She also offers tips on how to make, pack and ship your own cookies.
AmericaSupportsYou.com – A main feature on this site is the “Show Your Support” page, which lists 150 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping the troops and their families, including contacts for providing tragedy assistance and help for the wounded.
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