Reaching Out To Our Service Men And Women (Sanders' letter, Caledonian-Record)

To the Editor:

In response to: "U.S. Postal Service Will NOT Deliver" letter by Sara Williams of St. Johnsbury, published on December 12, 2007, in The Caledonian-Record:

I thank Ms. Sara Williams for her willingness to reach out to those service members who are recovering from injuries sustained in service. It is especially important that during this holiday season we remember those who have put their lives on the line in defense of our country.

Ms. Williams is correct that letters and packages addressed without a patient's name on them are not accepted at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I would like to let Vermonters know, however, that there are other means of contacting our wounded service members and those still serving with messages of support.

The American Red Cross has partnered with Pitney Bowes Inc. to facilitate the delivery of holiday greeting cards and letters to wounded service members at military hospitals around the country.

For security reasons, the Red Cross will be able to accept only holiday cards, but not packages. Red Cross volunteers will receive and bundle the cards and then distribute them throughout the holiday season.

To participate in this program, you may send your cards to:

We Support You During Your Recovery!
c/o American Red Cross
P.O. Box 419
Savage, MD 20763-0419

Alternatively, there are several organizations that offer a means for Americans to send messages of support or packages to troops currently serving abroad. Here are just a couple of those organizations that were recommended to my office by the Army's Legislative Liaison Office, although I understand they are inclusive of all branches of the Armed Forces.

Operation USO Care Package (OUCP) enables the public to express their support of our men and women in uniform by sponsoring a care package that includes a personal message sent to a service member deployed abroad. Their Web site is www.usocares.org.

At www.anysoldier.com, service members who are stationed in harm's way can sign up to receive "any soldier" mail and list what they want and need. Individuals can then search for the service member or unit they want to support based on service branch, where the unit is from, or the unit's need and then ship letters or packages directly to those service members.

The outpouring of support for our troops and desire to help those service members who have been wounded in battle has been truly inspiring. Vermonters continue to display their high degree of compassion and generosity of spirit. I know our servicemen and women deeply appreciate all that you have done.

Sincerely,

U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders
Washington, D.C