November 11, 2010… Veterans’ Day
How much thought do most of us give to the war in Afghanistan? Unless we know someone serving in the armed forces, it probably doesn’t cross our minds much. I don’t recall “war” being an issue in this last American election! Why was that? Although I personally don’t feel that violence and warfare will solve the world’s problems, to deny the reality of war is insulting to those young men and women who are giving their lives and limbs in the midst of these current violent conflicts.
So from our comfortable armchairs in front of our televisions, where we safely sit and mindlessly utter: “I’d give my right arm for… (something or another)…” Who or what- cause or principle would you give your right arm for? In reality, think about what a great sacrifice losing an arm or a leg or one’s life really is!
Today, on Veterans’ Day, as an appropriate and grateful gesture, I want to offer a practical application for our letter writing exploration. Literally, “give your write arm to pen and paper” and write a letter to a soldier.
Here are some guidelines: Mail call is an important event. Handwritten letters are highly valued for their heartfelt quality and personal touch featuring one’s individual script and drawings or doodles! Handwritten letters are saved and carried about in a soldier’s pocket.
- Find an organization you would like to work with. See listings below.
- Read the instructions and sign up if necessary.
- Write your initial letter. If you have an individual’s name, address him or her. If you are writing to an unknown serviceman, write “Dear Soldier” and let the letter be distributed by the organization. Here are some suggested pointers for what to say– Stay natural. Just talk to them as a friend. Be sincere. Stay newsy and positive. Keep things light. Talk about sports, hobbies, current events. Avoid controversies. No doom or gloom. Offer exciting details. Address them by name (if you know it) so they will know you are speaking directly to them. And lastly, send drawings. ( Writing to soldiers is a marvelous project for school children. Kids’ letters and pictures are a great pick-me-up for these homesick men and women).
- Follow the instructions for mailing. Remember to put your return address on the letter itself, as envelopes may get tossed away. Include your email address. That might be an easier way for the soldier to respond. And remember, you may not get a response depending on the soldier’s circumstances. Also, overseas mailings require patience. Travel time may be 7-14 days.
- When an answer does arrive respond with more news…build a pen pal connection.
- Write often. Try for at least once per month.
Helpful websites: __________________________________________________________________
- Tell Them Thanks.com
- Thank Our Troops
- Any Soldier.com
- Letters for Lyrics
- Operation PAL
- Military Friends & Military Pen Pals Online – helping connect …
- U.S. Postal Service: Military Mailing Restrictions
Supporting Our Troops: How to Write a Letter to a Soldier Cecilia Cooper, Associated Content 2007
How to Write Letters to Soldiers Linda L. Donahue, eHow 2009
How to Write Soldiers Letters from Home Diane Cass, eHow
How to Write Letters to U.S. Soldiers as Pen Pals Doug Hewitt, eHow 2010
P.S. This is our first writing venture. For the overseas readers- there are websites for foreign military servicemen and women. Please feel free to share your experiences. I will do the same. Thank you! -Carol