To bolster force protection, the general public is urged 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. Mail from family members and loved ones has always been encouraged and the military mail system will continue to work hard to get that mail to service members overseas.
There are many well meaning Web sites, TV stations, and charity groups that are promoting donations to overseas service members. 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 service members 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 Service Member" (versus a specific deployed person). These new programs attempt to do the same thing by gathering names of service members to send mail. While legitimate mail from family members and loved ones is always encouraged, these donor programs, which collect and pass out service membersí names and addresses, is discouraged.
On Oct. 30, 2002, the Department of Defense (DoD) suspended the "Operation Dear Abby" and "Any Servicemember" traditional mail programs due to force protection concerns. The Department of the Navy and the DoD cannot support creative and well-intentioned efforts that defeat force protection measures, but can instead recommend alternatives to mail and donation programs. To show support to troops overseas, the following are recommended:
Log on to the following Web sites to show support, to include greeting cards, virtual Thank You cards and calling card donations to help troops stay in contact with loved ones:
Other ways by which you can show your support. Service members do value and appreciate such expressions of support:
Visit Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and nursing homes. Volunteer your services to honor veterans who served in past conflicts. The Department of Veterans Affairs web site can be found at http://www.va.gov
Support families whose loved ones are being treated at military and VA hospitals through a donation to the Fisher House at http://www.fisherhouse.org
Reach out to military families in your community, especially those with a loved one deployed.
Questions about finding the e-mail address of a Navy person are addressed on our e-mail FAQ page.
U.S. personnel deployed to the Arabian Gulf region and other overseas locations can now receive personal messages from family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues and supporters via the pages of Stars and Stripes newspaper as well. "Messages of Support," a daily section that debuted March 17, gives family and friends of deployed service members a chance to pass their greetings, words of encouragement and announcements free of charge. "Messages of Support" can be e-mailed to Stars and Stripes 24 hours a day at firstname.lastname@example.org, are limited to 50 words or less and will be printed on a first-come, first-run basis. Stars and Stripes reserves the right to screen and edit all messages and to omit any determined inappropriate.