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October 5, 2005
And Last But Most Important...Information on Supporting Our TroopsBy Holly Aho
Last but not least - in fact most important of all my posts, is this one. I've posted here several times in the past few weeks regarding the support of our troops. If I've interested you in getting involved personally, here are some links, advice and tips on how to do just that. Support of our troops is so important, and certainly not difficult. For those of you with limited budgets never fear - letters are the most effective means of support and only cost 37 cents. For those of you with bigger budgets there are many soldiers who would love a carepackage with that letter. Here are some tips on letter writing and sending packages if you'd like to get started:
Whether you want to send a letter along with your carepackage, or just want to send a letter by itself, it helps to know just what you might say. The last time most of us wrote to a complete stranger like a pen pal type thing was perhaps 3rd grade. It helps to keep in mind what you intend with your letter. If you are hoping they might write back you'll have a slightly different letter than if you just want to drop a letter in with your carepackage to say who it's from. So here's a few ideas of what to write in a letter to a soldier.
Introduce yourself. Tell them a little about yourself such as your age, name (even though you're putting your name at the bottom of the letter still put it up at the top when you introduce yourself), where you are from, kids, pets, job...whatever you'd like to share. At least then through the rest of the letter they can have a visual image of who is writing to them.
Add a few words of encouragement and support. This doesn't mean you have to get all sappy - unless you are good at it. I'm not. I usually only have 1-2 sentences thanking them for their sacrifice and service. I tell them I am not good at being serious so that's the best I can do. I have had several soldiers tell me they appreciated that more than the 'supportive and encouraging' letters they received. One soldier even went so far as to say it was more encouraging than the other letters. He liked it.
Next - pretend you are writing to a close friend, and make the rest of your letter the same as you would write to a good friend. Ignore the fact that you just introduced yourself in the paragraphs above. Write about your good or bad day, what you did last week, what your kids are up to...your sick dog. Whatever. Include a joke someone told you that was funny if you have one.
Last, ask a few questions if you like. I usually say first something like, "I know you are busy but if you have time to write and would like to send me a letter I'd love to hear from you, whatever you'd like to tell or feel comfortable sharing." Then I ask them a few questions such as where they are from, what their job is, how they like it, whether or not they need anything or would like something sent to them, and I ask when their birthday is so I can send them a card and present for their birthday.
What should you put in the carepackage? That depends on a few things. Where they are, their gender, their access to electricity and voltage, and their needs or wants. There are many great places to find a list of ideas for carepackages, along with links to cheaper places to find the items or stores that give discounts if the item is for a troop carepackage. Here are a few links to carepackage ideas:
AnySoldier.com - What to Send
Ok, so you have a few ideas for what you might put in a carepackage. Next job is to find out who to send it to and where to send it. The easiest place I can tell you to look is here - AnySoldier.com - Where to Send. You will find a list of soldiers there, with their addresses at the top (once you click on a name at the left), and a list of males/females in the group, along with what they might want of need in their own words below their address. You can also sign up to adopt a soldier through Soldiers Angels, which is an excellent program and I highly recommend.
Last things to do before you close your letter or send off your carepackage. If you can - include a notecard (just a handwritten notecard works fine) with your name, address and email address if you have one, on it. Also - write the same information on the bottom or back of your letter. Why? Because they might forget who wrote it, even if they have your notecard. It's easier for them to remember and keep track of their new friends if the information is also on the letter. Often envelopes get torn or thrown away. This way they can more easily respond if they like. If you send a carepackage, you can put the notecard in it as well - but go one step further. Soldiers more often like to send thank-you notes for carepackages and will take the time to write down all the addresses on the boxes before they open them. This takes time and effort. Make it easier for them. They do not know beforehand that you have a notecard inside the box with all of that information. So save them the trouble and tape that notecard to the outside of the box...in a fashion that makes it easy to get off the box. Heck...put on the notecard "Tear hear to keep this notecard with my address". Whatever - as long as it saves them the time and makes it easier, they will love you.
Want more ideas, stories on what it's like to be involved or advice on how to do just that? You can check out these posts and visit my own blog often for new posts on these topics:
Posted by Holly Aho / October 5, 2005 5:00 AM | Permalink
Holly Aho, guest-blogging over at Mudville Gazette, has a complete listing of links for those interested in taking action to support the troops. Read More
Support the Troops? You bet, but not in that liberal sort of way in which I would call them fascist baby killers on one hand and say in a whiney snivvelly voice that "I support the troops". I mention this because Woody (you know, the one at Woody's N... Read More
Everybody says they support the troops, but how many have actually taken action in support of them? If you say you support the troops but you have been all talk and no walk, now's the time to get off your Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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