Bill would give free mail to deployed troops
January 30, 2009
A morale boost for troops who are downrange or laid-up in hospitals could be in the mail soon if a Florida congresswoman gets her way.
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., has introduced legislation that would allow servicemembers’ loved ones or friends to send them mail without having to pay postage. The bill, named the Home Front to Heroes Postal Benefits Act, has already picked up nearly 150 co-sponsors.
Castor’s district includes the headquarters for the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.
"Supporting our troops has always been a priority for the congresswoman," her office said in a released statement. "This mail for troops bill gives everyone a little bit of breathing room by helping out on postage."
The bill would allow every servicemember who is deployed or hospitalized because of injuries or disease suffered during overseas operations to select someone or a charitable organization to receive a mail voucher each month. Each voucher would allow the recipient to send packages of up to 15 pounds to the servicemember.
"Our government recognizes the need for soldiers to maintain contact with their families and friends by providing them with free mail from specified combat zones," Castor wrote in a letter to her colleagues in Congress. "However, no corresponding benefit exists for communication in the other direction, from the U.S. to the men and women serving in the Armed Forces.
"This simple, common sense legislation recognizes the integral role that care packages play in boosting the morale of the brave men and women serving our country in uniform."
Castor went on to write that the bill would not just demonstrate appreciation for the troops in harm’s way, but would also show the country’s appreciation for their loved ones.
The proposed legislation would authorize the secretary of defense and the postal service to determine whether the vouchers would be electronic or in some other format.
Military mental health experts say anything that has to do with troops getting mail is a good pick-me-up for servicemembers’ psyches.
"Getting mail is a great morale booster," said Army Capt. Shawn Gallagher, a nurse practitioner in the behavioral health division at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. "Certainly receiving mail and correspondence from home helps people feel they are in people’s thoughts. It is a good thing."