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Letter Writing Contest Aimed at Overseas Troops

By Staff Sgt. Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2000 – (CORRECTED COPY)

 (Editors Note: An entry instruction in the original Oct. 24 story was incorrect. Completed entries can't be returned to commissaries, but must be sent directly to the contest organizers.)

The Defense Commissary Agency is once again teaming with the producers of a popular show touring U.S. military bases to ramp up support for a holiday letter writing campaign.

Producers of the show "Letters from the Front: World War II," which has been touring overseas military bases for three years, came up with the idea of a letter-writing contest after their contact with American troops. Organizers said they were "struck by the feeling of loneliness and estrangement expressed by many of those we met during our travels."

The contest runs through Nov. 11. Letters must be between 100 and 150 words long and begin with, "Dear Service Member, I just want to say thanks for ... ." Official entry forms can be picked up from displays in commissary stores, and letters should be mailed with an official entry form to: Letters to the Front, P.O. Box 25348, Alexandria, Va., 22313. Visit the contest Web site at www.letters-from-the-front.com/contest2.htm for information, rules and downloadable entry forms.

Prizes will be awarded in three age groups: under 12, 12-18 and over 19. The two grand-prize winners under 19 will receive $3,000 scholarships; the adult grand-prize winner will receive a $3,000 computer system.

After the contest ends, the letters are forwarded to U.S. service members serving overseas. Last year American troops received thousands of letters through this contest, organizers said. "My entire platoon ... read your letter," wrote back one soldier from Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. "It changed our outlook and brightened our day."

A noncommissioned officer stationed on Korea's demilitarized zone wrote to the organizers and called the contest a good idea because "not only does it lift a soldier's spirits ... so far from home, but it gets the next generation to take an interest in the people defending their country."

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