Archive for Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mail addressed to ‘any soldier’ will be trashed or returned

December 12, 2007


— Hundreds of thousands of holiday cards and letters thanking wounded American troops for their sacrifice and wishing them well never reach their destination. They are returned to sender or thrown away unopened.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks and the anthrax scare, the Pentagon and the Postal Service have refused to deliver mail addressed simply to "Any Wounded Soldier" for fear terrorists or opponents of the war might send toxic substances or demoralizing messages.

Mail must be addressed to a specific member of the armed forces - a rule that pains some well-meaning Americans this Christmas season.

"Are we going to forget our soldiers because we are running in fear?" Fena D'Ottavio asked. The suburban Chicago woman was using her blog to encourage friends to send mail to unspecified soldiers until she learned of the ban, which she called a sad commentary on society.

Last season, despite the rule, officials say as many as 450,000 pieces of mail not addressed to anyone in particular managed to reach Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. But they were returned or, if they had no return address, were thrown out altogether, because the hospital lacked the manpower to open and screen all the mail, spokesman Terry Goodman said.

"A lot of this is because of security concerns because it's unsolicited mail that someone is going to have to go through," Goodman said. "Also, being a democratic society, there could be inappropriate mail from someone who, say, doesn't support the war, and then you've got a wounded soldier getting it."

Lt. Col. Kevin Arata, a spokesman with the Army Human Resources Command, said no one tracks the amount of unnamed-soldier mail being returned, so it is impossible to judge the size of the problem.

The busiest part of the holiday season has yet to arrive, but officials said they are receiving far less mail this year addressed simply to "A Recovering American Soldier" or "Any Wounded Soldier."

Candy Roquemore of Austin, Texas, was also promoting the idea of sending cards to wounded soldiers until she found out about the rule. She suggested the ban is an over-reaction.

"I think there are some wackos who might do something, so I can understand that. But I think with a Christmas postcard it would be pretty easy to see it doesn't have anthrax in it," Roquemore said.

She added: "I just wanted to say, 'Thank you, sorry you're hurt, and happy holidays."'

USO spokesman John Hanson said that like the military, the nonprofit service organization does not deliver unopened mail to unspecified recipients. He said the USO worries about security as well as hateful messages from war critics.

"We just want to make sure it's not, 'Die, baby killer,"' he said. "There are people out there who act irrationally, and we don't want anyone to get a message that would be discouraging."

The USO is one of the organizations the military is encouraging people to support with donations as an alternative to sending cards to unspecified soldiers. The military is also referring people to the American Red Cross and a Defense Department Web site where supporters have posted thousands of messages to troops.

Some groups are offering to forward mail to the troops. Aides to Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., are offering to accept letters, screen them through the U.S. Capitol mail operation, and get them to members of the armed forces.

"We've had about a dozen complaints from constituents about returned mail that they sent to troops," said Steven Boyd, a Sessions spokesman.


GSWtotheheart 10 years, 3 months ago

However, you can go to and get real names, addresses, and needs of soldiers in all branches of the military to send mail and/or care packages to. I have sent several packages to soldiers whose names I have found on and they do write you back when they can. also has prepackaged care packages you can purchase to send. It's a good deal no matter how you look at it. My dad was a marine corps medic when he was in the navy so I sponsor both marines and navy.

Janet Lowther 10 years, 3 months ago

Here we sit in the most powerful nation the world has ever seen, able to reach out and smite any part of the globe, yet our military is adopting policies based on fear.

Based on the actions of the US government since the 9/11 attacks, I would say the terrorists have won.

They won as soon as the war paradigm was adopted in response to the heinous crime committed by al-Qaeda operatives in 2001. The 9/11 attack was not an act of war, but a singularly horrifying crime.

Al-Qaeda, not being a state, is incapable of committing acts of war. They are criminals of the most horrible sort, but the correct response to criminals is with police and marshals, sheriffs and prosecutors, not with soldiers and bombs.

Thanks to the adoption of the war paradigm, we have destroyed one of al-Qaeda's worst enemies in the Arab world: The Iraqui government of Saddam Hussein. If you think the present puppet government of Iraq is an improvement, ask yourself how long would those jokers last without 100,000+ US troops and billions of US dollars propping them up? Every time I hear a sound bite from the current Iraqui president I find myself wondering if al-Maliki isn't Arabic for malarkey.

Thanks to the paranoia spawned by the crimes of September 11, 2001, we have lost far too many of our god-given rights: The right to privacy has been most severely impacted, but the rights to travel and to conduct commerce have also been sorely impacted.

The War Against Terrorism must end, and be replaced by investigation and prosecution of the criminals committing the horrible crimes commonly referred to as acts of terrorism.

domino 10 years, 3 months ago

GWS - thanks for the site - hope many check it out and send a card

Steve Mechels 10 years, 3 months ago

If anyone wants to provide cards, care packages, etc. to members of the Kansas Army National Guard who are in Afghanistan and Iraq, PM me and I will provide contacts and addresses.

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