Claim: Americans can send holiday cards to service members and veterans through the "Holiday Mail for Heroes" program.
Christmas cards sent to soldiers through the Red Cross-sponsored "Holiday Mail for Heroes" program will reach their intended recipients.
Christmas cards addressed to "A Recovering American Soldier" or "Any Wounded Soldier" sent to Walter Reed Hospital will not reach their intended recipients.
Origins: Recent years have seen several Internet-based grass-roots promotions of programs that enable the public to send letters, cards,
gifts, and other greetings to U.S. troops serving overseas or recovering in stateside hospitals, particularly around the holiday season. Unfortunately, many such promotions (such as the "Recovering American Soldier" effort) have not worked out as well as hoped due to insufficient organization, deadlines, security concerns, and other factors.
As they have done in the past, for the 2013 holiday season the Red Cross and Pitney Bowes are sponsoring a "Holiday Mail for Heroes" program to distribute holiday cards to service members, a program that encompasses not just troops who are recovering in military hospitals but also service members stationed throughout the U.S. and abroad, as well as veterans and their families.
Well-wishers who would like to send Christmas (and other seasonal) cards to U.S. service members should address those cards as follows:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD
All cards must be postmarked no later than Friday, 6 December 2013 in order to ensure sufficient time for sorting and distribution before the holidays.
The Red Cross provides these additional guidelines for sending cards to service members:
Ensure that all cards are signed.
Use generic salutations such as "Dear Service Member." Cards addressed to specific individuals can not be delivered through this program.
Only cards are being accepted. Do not send letters.
Do not include email or home addresses on the cards, as the program is not meant to foster pen pal relationships.
Do not include inserts of any kind, including photos, as these items will be removed during the reviewing process.
Please refrain from choosing cards with glitter or using loose glitter as it can aggravate health issues of ill and injured warriors.
If you are mailing a large quantity of cards, please bundle them and place them in large mailing envelopes or flat rate postal shipping boxes. Each card does not need its own envelope, as envelopes will be removed from all cards before distribution.
Also please note that the "Holiday Mail for Heroes" program is for the delivery of holiday cards only. Those wishing to donate items such as phone cards or military comfort kits should go to the Help Our Troops section of the Red Cross online catalogue.
E-mailed entreaties from previous years have urged Americans to send cards addressed to "A Recovering American Soldier" or "Any Wounded Soldier" care of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), but Walter Reed officials have said that any material so addressed will not be delivered:
Walter Reed Army Medical Center officials want to remind those individuals who want to show their appreciation through mail to include packages and letters, addressed to "Any Wounded Soldier" that Walter Reed will not be accepting these packages in support of the decision by then Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Transportation Policy in 2001. This decision was made to ensure the safety and well being of patients
and staff at medical centers throughout the Department of Defense.
In addition, the U.S. Postal Service is no longer accepting "Any Service Member" or "Any Wounded Service Member" letters or packages. Mail to "Any Service Member" that is deposited into a collection box will not be delivered.
Instead of sending an "Any Wounded Soldier" letter or package to Walter Reed, please consider making a donation to one of the more than 300 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping our troops and their families listed on the "America Supports You" website, www.americasupportsyou.mil
The former Walter Reed Army Medical Center closed in August 2011 and merged with the National Naval Medical Center to form the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, Maryland. WRNMMC's Facebook page instructs readers that holiday mail for service members should be sent through the "Holiday Mail for Heroes" program.