I don’t normally write posts to my blog about chain letters or junk mail in my email, but this particular time, I do feel it is pertinent to the season and to my need to prevent a vast number of people wasting their time on a heartfelt, good intention.
The chain letter in question is the one going around about sending a card or letter to “A Recovering American Soldier” at the Walter Reed Medical Center in hopes that it will bring good cheer and warm feelings to a soldier at the center. The email looks something like this:
A Great Idea!!!
When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, please include the following:
A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20307-5001
If you approve of the idea, please pass it on to your e-mail list.
While no one can fault the sentiment behind the suggestion (not only to remember the less fortunate during the holiday season but to make a special effort to reach out to those who have been wounded in the service of their country), the plan falters on one central reality in these times of heightened security, mail from strangers to unnamed soldiers must for everyone’s safety be discarded unopened.
The U.S. Postal Service will not accept mail addressed to “Any Soldier,” “Any Wounded Soldier,” or “A/Any Recovering American Soldier.”
Such offerings are either returned to sender (if a return address has been provided) or donated to charities (if no address for the sender is found). Similarly, military hospitals will not accept letters, cards, or packages addressed in such manner because if it did, it could be providing a conduit for those who might do harm to armed services members. Such beneficences, no matter how kindly meant, are not permitted to reach the soldiers they were intended for.
Walter Reed Army Medical Center officials echoed this information in a statement regarding the proposed plan to send cards to unnamed soldiers in its care:
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
Other organizations that offer means of showing your support for our troops or assist wounded service members and their families include:
For individuals without computer access, your local military installation, the local National Guard or military reserve unit in your area may offer the best alternative
to show your support to our returning troops and their families. Walter Reed Army Medical Center will continue to receive process and deliver all mail that is addressed
to a specific individual.
As Walter Reed continues to enhance the medical care and processes for our returning service members, it must also must keep our patients and staff members safe while
following Department of Defense policy. The outpouring of encouragement from the general public, corporate America and civic groups throughout the past year has been
incredible. Our Warriors in Transition are amazed at the thanks and support they receive from their countrymen.
Although the Walter Reed Army Medical Center is not accepting holiday cards for recovering soldiers, the American Red Cross has said that small gifts may be sent to patients in that facility through them:
The Walter Reed Army Medical Center is ONLY accepting phone cards, CDs, individual small packets of candy, things like that; which they will distribute among the
soldiers (as they have a lot of in and out patients). They are not accepting Holiday Cards, as they don’t have the human resources to distribute them.
You may send your packages to:
American Red Cross
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20307-5000