Spouse Calls: Packages tell soldiers we care
December 6, 2009
Q. I live in Virginia, and I read your article in the Stars and Stripes. (“Single soldiers need support too,” Sept. 27) Thanks so much for looking out for the single people. I too am single, and it does get lonely, and I’m here working a normal job not fighting for my life.
I am sending a package to (a friend’s) husband for their unit, but it’s not the same. I would love to send good wishes, “thinking of you” and fun packages to someone else who also needs to know we’re here. If there is any way you can help, I would very much appreciate it. I was married to a Marine years back for ten years, so I am used to the military and their life. I enjoyed it tremendously.
A. I’m always happy to hear from people who would like to reach out and support the military. At one time, individuals could send mail addressed to “Any Soldier” to reach out to troops overseas, but the need for tighter security has ended that practice.
Have you asked if your friend’s husband knows of someone in his unit who does not receive mail and would like to? With that person’s permission, of course, perhaps you could send letters and packages.
The United Service Organization, which has locations all over the world, also utilizes volunteers to support the military. USO volunteers prepare and distribute care packages to those headed downrange, among many other services.
Your local church or military chapel also might have letter-writing outreach.
Karen and Robert Hampton, missionaries serving the American military community at Vicenza, Italy, have begun a local program called “My Soldier.”
Those preparing to deploy can request letters, packages, encouragement and prayer by filling out a form, said Karen.
Each requester is paired with a screened “My Soldier” volunteer, who would like to provide all of the above. The focus is on sending, not receiving mail in return.
“We encourage (volunteers) to be very patient,” Karen said. “We tell them they may not hear back from them very often. The soldiers tend to work very long hours.”
“My Soldier,” like other organizations providing mail for troops, has guidelines for their volunteers and for the kinds of support they provide. Security and privacy of military individuals must be a priority.
Real mail is much appreciated by those who are far from home.
“What the soldiers say they really love the best are handwritten notes that they can put in their pocket and read over and over again,” Karen said.
Project Rudolph is another organization that specializes in providing handwritten letters. This group based in Landstuhl, Germany, focuses on wounded troops. Founded by a military spouse, Project Rudolph accepts letters, which are personally distributed, along with gift bags, to patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
The Web site at ProjectRudolph.homestead.com gives the guidelines for letters and where to send them.
Cups of Love, founded by a teenage military daughter, also provides hand-written letters for troops. Volunteers distribute hot chocolate, candy and handwritten letters to deploying servicemembers as they pass through the military terminal at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on various holidays.
Cups of Love accepts handwritten cards to be included in their packages. For information, write email@example.com.
Cups of Love originated with Valentine’s Day sweets. Project Rudolph started with Christmas. These and many organizations emphasize year-round support for troops, who appreciate being remembered on every Groundhog Day of their deployment.
The Spouse Calls blog has more information, guidelines and ideas for letter writing and care packages.
Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and see the Spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.