Citizens Worldwide E-Mail Greetings to Troops in Bosnia
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 1995 "Thank you so much for helping to build peace. There is no greater reason to use your great military expertise than to save peoples lives and give them a future that we in the U.S. take for granted. Take care and have the best holiday and New Year possible."
This is one of the first messages to troops in Bosnia DoD received over its newly established "any soldier" electronic-mail holiday greetings system. Susan Cooney of Fresno, Calif., used her home computer to send the message through the Defense BosniaLINK home page on the Internet's World Wide Web.
Defense officials established the system so the public can send holiday greetings to service members participating in Operation Joint Endeavor, the NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The message program went on line at 10 a.m., Dec. 18. Within 12 hours, citizens from across the nation and overseas had responded with more than 1,000 holiday greetings to troops, said Rick Silva, a DoD information resources manager.
Officials haven't decided how long to offer the electronic-mail service.
"In the first four days, we've received more than 5,000 holiday messages from every state and U.S. territory and from overseas -- Germany, Korea and Haiti," Silva said. "All of the messages are very positive and supportive. It's hard to keep a dry eye when you read some of the heartfelt support in these messages.
"For example," Silva continued, "Steve Weintraub of St. Louis wrote: 'What you guys are doing is the greatest. Your presence will bring the happiest Christmas in years to the Bosnian people -- who are people just like we are. Our country must use the resources we are very lucky to have to take a leadership role and prevent injustice throughout the world. We are all one race.'
"We recommend messages be kept to no more than 50 words," he said.
Currently, DoD is unable to deliver personal e-mail messages to specific individuals or units. DoD will distribute a selection of the messages through its internal print media sources and broadcasts by the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service in Bosnia and the areas supporting Joint Endeavor.
The BosniaLINK home page contains operation maps, fact sheets, news releases, biographies of key commanders and leaders and transcripts of briefings, speeches and testimony. It includes a simple message form under "Send your holiday greetings to the troops in Bosnia."
To send a message, access BosniaLINK through World Wide Web address http://www.dtic.mil/bosnia/, fill out the form provided and click on the "send message" button.