The Department of Defense today announced new ways for Americans to show support for their servicemembers deployed overseas. The initiatives, made necessary by a moratorium on mail addressed to "Any Servicemember," provide alternatives to traditional letter-writing campaigns. DoD suggests that Americans support the troops by instead supporting the communities in which they live.
One way to show support is by doing a good deed on behalf of servicemembers. Visit a VA hospital or nursing home, or volunteer in the local community to help make up for servicemembers who normally would volunteer but are now deployed or otherwise too busy with their duties. Many servicemembers volunteer to coach children's teams, feed the homeless, and aid their communities in a variety of other ways. Interested Americans can show their support and honor their military by volunteering in their local communities.
Although many towns do not have a military base nearby, military recruiters are stationed nearly everywhere. Local governments and chambers of commerce are encouraged to reach out to these local members of the military, invite them to speak at community events, and encourage members of the community to learn more about America's military.
Members of the community who know military families might want to offer their support by reaching out to those families while their loved ones are deployed.
A number of private organizations are developing Web-based methods for Americans to show support. While donations of food and gifts for delivery overseas can no longer be accepted, interested Americans might contribute instead to military relief societies. For more information see http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2001/n09172001_200109173.html.
All of these initiatives are in response to the suspension of the "Any Servicemember" mail program for operations in Bosnia and Kosovo. Military postal officials will not be implementing a similar program for Operation Enduring Freedom. Operation Dear Abby, a morale booster for servicemembers overseas for more than 17 years, will also be suspended. DoD officials are working on alternatives to that program as well.
Servicemembers value and appreciate expressions of support from the American people, and these and other mail programs are a significant boost to morale. However, recent mail-related attacks have resulted in additional precautions and the safety of servicemembers is paramount. The increased manpower required to ensure safe mail handling coupled with the increased volume of mail that letter-writing campaigns generate could exceed capabilities, and therefore cannot be supported at this time.
Normal mail delivery addressed by name to individual servicemembers will continue uninterrupted.