I get tons of email about how Americans can write to our servicemembers or otherwise show their support.
Unfortunately, in October of 2001, the Anthrax-infected letter threat resulted in the termination of two programs which have been used to increase the morale of deployed servicemembers for more than 17 years.
Because of the potential danger to our military servicemembers, at that time, the Military Postal Service Agency suspended two popular mail programs geared for servicemembers stationed overseas: The "Dear Any Servicemember" mail program and the "Operation Dear Abby" servicemember mail program.
Operation Dear Abby used to operate to support the troops during the holiday season from Nov. 15 to Jan. 15, while the Any Servicemember mail program operated year round.
The Department of Defense has officially asked the American Public not to send unsolicited mail, care packages or donations to service members forward deployed unless you are a family member, loved one or personal friend. This includes a plea not to use any of the services provided by well-intentioned individuals and organizations which result in postal mail being sent to any military servicemember, if you do not personally know that servicemember.
Official statement from the Military Postal Service Agency: There are many well meaning Web sites, TV stations, and charity groups that are promoting donations to overseas Servicemembers. While well intentioned, you should not use them and you should discourage others from using them. These unsolicited letters of support or care packages to Servicemembers raise a force protection issue, since anonymous donors are different from legitimate family members and friends. DoD has cancelled mail programs which encouraged the American public in general to mail to Any Servicemember (versus a specific deployed person). These new programs attempt to do the same thing by gathering names of Servicemembers to send mail. While legitimate mail from family members and loved ones is always encouraged, these donor programs, which collect and pass out Servicemembers’ names and addresses, is discouraged.
In addition to the America Supports You official site, here are some other ways you can show your support to U.S. Military service members:
Operation USO Care Package. You can buy a "care package," which will be delivered to a deployed servicemember with a personal note from you. These care packages are purchased and delivered by the USO (United Service Organization) with permission and support from the Department of Defense.
Send a PX/BX Gift Certificate to a wounded servicemember. Anyone can purchase a gift certificate from the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), and ask that it be donated to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. This is the medical facility where all servicemembers wounded in the Gulf or Afghanistan are treated before they are transported back to the states. The certificates donated will be redeemed for toiletries, sweats, undergarments, socks, pre-paid calling cards and other items of convenience or necessity for our wounded heros.