Rules and Really Important Stuff
Protect Your Soldier
Before 9/11, there were lots of different official ways to write to "any soldier." The big one was Operation Dear Abby. Every year, from 1983 until 2000, Dear Abby would publish a list of addresses for ships that would be at sea and overseas bases in Korea and Germany and Iceland so that readers could send holiday greetings. Millions of cards and letters were sent, and some lifelong friendships and even marriages resulted.
After 9/11, and especially after the anthrax attacks that followed, these official methods were discontinued. What we are doing is unofficial; although it is supported by the US military, we don't get lists of special "any soldier" addresses like Operation Dear Abby used to. Soldiers request our help for other soldiers. Family members ask that we support their loved ones. The military as an entity is not involved.
We must do nothing to threaten that trust. Please remember that the address that is given to you is private. You must not share it with anyone else. I don’t know who your soldiers are, and I won’t unless you have a problem and need me to resolve it. If you want to have other people sign cards to your soldier, address them afterwards. On the forum, you may notice Angels asking for others to write letters to their soldiers. They do not post the address of the soldier, even though the forum is private. Others contact them by e-mail.
Your Soldier is Relying on You
The second bit of serious stuff is that your soldier is relying on you. Some soldiers have no other contact besides their Angels. You have signed up to write a letter or card about once a week and to send a package, even a small one, about once a month. If you cannot do this, please “return” your soldier. There is no shame in admitting that you have other priorities, either temporary or long-term. I myself have had to do this twice, because of sudden changes in my work schedule. I felt awful, as if I had failed my soldiers in some way. But my soldiers were quickly re-adopted, and the real failure would have been to allow my soldiers to go without mail because I couldn’t admit I had a problem.
Your Soldier Has No Obligation to Contact You
Some soldiers are shy. Some have no idea what to say. Some don't know how to write a letter (it's not exactly practiced in the public schools these days). Some are embarrassed by their handwriting or spelling or grammar. Some are overwhelmed by your generosity.
Some don't have time. Some have some free time, but want to write to their own family members.
You are providing a public service. Your soldier appreciates your time and effort, believe me. Even if you never hear back, you are doing something important.
Please don't stop writing just because your soldier doesn't write back. Please don't try to contact anyone else in your soldier's unit. Several years ago, before we had a mentoring program, an Angel decided to contact her soldier's commanding officer to find out why he hadn't written back. The soldier got in trouble for drawing the attention of the "brass," and Soldiers' Angels got a black eye.