In the midst of commercial frenzy and personal angst over the best Valentine gift and greeting for one’s lover, spouse, significant other, or family member, there is another place where a simple Valentine greeting can make a big difference in a person’s life – military mail call.
Sending Valentine cards originated a few hundred years ago, and became socially popular in the 19th century. While the romance of Valentines between lovers captured in Cupid’s enchantment is certainly a part of this cheerful holiday, Valentines are not limited to lovers.
The exchange of Valentine greetings, including cards, candy and gifts, has been a common social practice among friends and family for well over a hundred years.
Remember an Important Relationship on Valentine’s Day
Thus, St. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time for lovers and friends, acquaintances and others to make a positive gesture of remembrance within a socially acceptable framework. This February holiday has raised the expectation that people will take a moment to stop and appreciate the nature of their relationships and recognize them with cards, flowers, candy, perfume, books, music or other gifts — depending on the nature of the relationship.
Because it is a day on which society has developed the tradition of exchanging cards and gifts, Valentine’s Day also provides people an opportunity to explore more deeply those farther reaching relationships that, while physically remote and anonymous on a personal level, are increasingly intimate on a world scale: our troops who serve far from home.
These soldiers, many of whom who will not receive a Valentine card or gift, may feel isolated, left out, or forgotten. The level of their morale responds to actions easy to take here at home.
Valentine’s Day is a Chance To Send Expressions of Appreciation to Troops Away from Home
The United States and other countries around the world have troops deployed away from home, thousands in harm’s way in gritty, impersonal, unpleasant places, or sequestered at sea. For them, remembrances in the mail are better than jewels.
But not every soldier has family support from back home. Countless numbers do not receive much, if any, mail. Many must wonder on a given day if anybody cares.
How and Where to Send Military Valentine Greetings
What better day than Valentine’s Day to send a token of appreciation to a soldier stationed away from home? The following sources provide ways to get Valentine cards and packages to deployed military.
Handmade or purchased cards with a note of appreciation or care packages of necessities and commercially-packaged snacks are all appreciated surprises arriving in mail call.
- Word of mouth: Talk to people. Many people have relatives or know other people who have relatives and friends deployed overseas. Many of these people’s military relatives will in turn know fellow troops who do not receive mail.
- Local Veterans Associations: Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and American Legion are organizations that may be helpful. They are listed in the phone book and most have websites.
- Aafes.com: Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s site lists reasonably priced phone cards and gift cards (and other items) that can be purchased for military personnel.
- AnySoldier: This site provides the opportunity to select a specific soldier to whom to send a Valentine, and also the option of a care package. For the latter, be sure to check on the site as to what is legal to send.
- Hugs for Our Soldiers: This 501c3 organization collects Valentines to send the troops, and spearheads other projects to assist deployed and returning military. Valentines can be sent to Hugs For Our Soldiers, P.O. Box 532, Vonore, TN 37885. For specific information on how to participate in this project visit their website at www.hugsforoursoldiers.org.
- TroopCarePack : This site provides a service to send a donated Valentine package to a selected soldier.
- Hugs for Soldiers for Valentine’s Day: This organization is set up to collect and forward Valentine cards to deployed military. Handmade or purchased Valentine cards should be sent to Hugs for Soldiers, P.O. Box 2887, Duluth, GA 30096. The envelopes must be unsealed because every card will be checked. No glitter is permitted for health and security reasons. Cards for this program must be received no later than January 31st. For more information and instructions, see their website at www.hugsforsoldiers.com.
- USO Operation Care Package: The USO provides information for sending mail and packages. Holiday greeting messages can also be published online at this site under the Holiday Messages for Our Troops section. Donations for troops can be made at the Donations section.
- The Red Cross: Check with the local Red Cross Chapter for information about sending Valentines and letters to military stationed away from home and the injured in hospitals.
Valentines for the troops is a way to personally and meaningfully share the tradition of St. Valentine’s Day.