America Supports You: Teen Sets Sights on 2.6 Million Thanks
American Forces Press Service
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 3, 2006 The Defense Department's "America Supports You" program and Shauna Fleming, 16, founder of "A Million Thanks," launched the "2.6 in 2006" letter-writing campaign Jan. 1.
President Bush receives the millionth "A Million Thanks" letter from Shauna Fleming of Orange County, Calif., in the Oval Office on Nov. 17, 2004. Fleming, founder of A Million Thanks, a letter-writing campaign to collect thank-you letters and e-mails for distribution to U.S. servicemembers, has set her sights on bringing the program's total to 2.6 million greetings this year. Photo by Eric Draper, The White House
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The goal of the new campaign is to increase the number of letters of thanks sent to servicemembers through the "A Million Thanks" program to 2.6 million -- the total number of people in the armed forces, including the Guard and Reserve -- with the bulk of the letters coming from school-aged children.
The initiative invites America's youth to make it their New Year's resolution to find ways to show their support for members of the U.S. armed forces and to start by sending a letter of thanks to a servicemember as part of the "2.6 in 2006" campaign.
Officials with America Supports You, a program that highlights what Americans across the country are doing to support the military, will work closely with Fleming to help her reach her goal. Fleming's A Million Thanks was the first organization to join America Supports You in conjunction with its launch in November 2004.
Fleming established A Million Thanks in May 2004 as a high school community service project to do something special for the troops. She reached her initial goal of collecting a million letters in October 2004 and presented a framed copy of the millionth letter to President Bush in the Oval Office. After reaching the 1 million mark, Fleming set out to increase the number to 1.4 million letters - the number of active duty military members - and reached her second goal in November 2005.
"I'm very excited about working with the America Supports You program on the '2.6 in 2006' letter-writing campaign to reach out to America's youth," the Orange County, Calif., teenager said. "I've heard directly from servicemembers who have received our letters, and I know firsthand how much they appreciate the program. Sending a letter provides school children a hands-on and productive way to show support for the troops."
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Allison Barber said she looks forward to working with Fleming on the campaign.
"Shauna is a wonderful example of how our nation's youth can actively participate in showing our military men and women that the American people, especially our children, support them," Barber said. "She understands the impact that letters have on troop morale and the positive effect that writing these letters has on our children here at home. We're excited about the opportunity to work with Shauna to reach out to school children from across the country in an effort to engage them in this unique New Year's resolution challenge."
Since starting her A Million Thanks campaign, Fleming has received support from celebrities such as country music artist John Michael Montgomery, who helped Shauna promote her campaign on the radio. Montgomery's No. 1 song "Letters From Home" also became the A Million Thanks theme song. Actor Gary Sinise, star of the hit television series "CSI: NY" and co-founder of Operation Iraqi Children, also has helped Shauna get the word out by doing television interviews with the teen.
Shauna and her organization also were featured at two major NASCAR races.
(From an A Million Thanks news release.)