Friday, December 10, 2010

Remember the troops on the holidays

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.
It’s sounding pretty good to me about now.
The morning e-mail included two shots of my toddler nephew’s first visit to Santa Claus. It came on the same day his dad was shipping off to Afghanistan.
In this long, long, war, just about all of us know someone who’s “over there.”
As a parent, grandparent and aunt, I mourn for all the moments those brave moms and dads will miss with their kids. First steps and sentences, first dances and days at school. Christmases. Birthdays. Sunday dinners and summer picnics.
We pray for their safety and their swift return. And a world that can somehow find alternatives to war before these kids grow up and have kids of their own.
In the meantime, you can brighten the holidays just a bit for servicemen and women far from home this year.
My brother, father of a recently deployed troop, has been researching procedures to ship off packages to his son and recommends visits to the post office for guidelines. He said he’s found helpful information on this toll-free number: 1-800-ASK-USPS (275-8777).
It’s worth some time to investigate procedures and be sure your have the exact address correctly written on all cards and packages, not just for the holidays, but year-around, when morale reportedly can take a leap or a nose dive, depending on the mail call harvest.
Another great resource is the Let’s Say Thanks program at, a web site that lets you send a free printed postcard to U.S. military personnel stationed overseas. You can’t specify who will get the card, but you can select your favorite designs from a touching assortment of cards created by children. The easy, three-step process continues by entering a message with your name and home town (write your own or choose a message that best expresses what you want to say from a group of suggestions). Then press send and you’re done.
You can also check out the site to see messages sent by others and the response from servicemen and women.
“Thank you for sending the postcards to our unit! While soldiers routinely grab all the snacks, toiletries, magazines and books out of care packages, it is the letters, cards and postcards with heartfelt messages that mean the most and truly remind us that the folks back home care and appreciate what we do,” said a military policeman.
Another, who signed as simply “a soldier,” sent “thanks for this outstanding effort to make our Military personnel feel a touch of home wherever they are. I have been deployed several times to various parts of the world. No matter what is going on around us, when we get encouraging words from home, it seems to make a difference that is beyond description. Something as simple as words. Something as common as a crayon drawing. These things can mean the world when you are a world away.”
Others said the colorful little postcards “made my day” and report that they read and share them with others.
It’s a big payoff for a free service that takes just a minute of your time and could make a world of difference for a soldier you may never meet.
You can also help out with a tax-deductible donation to the USO, which is “committed to supporting our troops wherever they serve — from free phone cards to care packages full of much- needed items and entertainment tours to just a simple hug,” according to That’s the source to donate online, or call 1-800-876-7469 or send a check, payable to USO to: USO, P.O. Box 96322, Washington, DC, 20090-6322.
And it’s always a good time to greet a soldier. When you see a man or woman in uniform, a pretty common sight in our military hub, even if you can’t get within handshake distance, you can make eye contact and pat your left hand on your heart to express your appreciation and support.
If you’re close enough, offer a verbal “thank you” and a handshake.
And your prayers and wishes for peace on earth.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450

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