Looking for ways to support and honor U.S. military servicemembers and veterans who protect our security and freedom? In years past, you could wrap up a care package and mail it to "Any Service Member" for the holidays, but with increased mail restrictions, the Pentagon is asking people to help through financial contributions, letter-writing and e-mail, purchasing authorized pre-made care packages, or volunteering time through non-profits.
Below are links to programs that offer aid to our military -- everything from care packages to emergency services to military family support. Show your pride in our armed forces today, either by purchasing a gift or card for a servicemember, or donating to programs that support our military.
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 DoD Community Relations website.
The following charitable organizations help send gifts, cards, and care packages to our troops:
Adopt a Platoon -- Support the troops through gifts and sponsored mail.
Any Soldier -- Sponsor care packages to servicemembers in Iraq.
Army and Air Force Exchange Services -- Purchase gift certificates for active and hospitalized servicemembers.
Blue Star Mothers -- Organizes postcards to troops and care packages, and is currently petitioning Congress for reduced air fares for servicemembers.
Books for Soldiers -- Donate books, movies, and more.
Cell Phones for Soldiers -- Donate your old cell phones, which pay for calling cards for our troops.
Commissary Gift Certificates -- Give the gift of groceries -- buy or donate gift certificates.
A Million Thanks -- Collects emails and letters of appreciation for our armed forces.
Operaton Dear Abby -- Send greetings and messages of support.
Operation Give -- Donate toys to be given to the children of Iraq.
Operation Gratitude -- Contribute to care packages sent to our servicemembers.
Operation Homefront Hugs -- Contribute to care packages, or adopt a servicemember.
Operation Troop Aid -- Provide care packages for our deployed U.S. Servicemembers.
Operation USO Care Package -- Sponsor a care package for $25.
Help with Mailing Packages
Instructions on Sending Mail to Servicemembers -- Straight from the U.S. Postal Service, instructions and recommendations on sending individual mail to servicemembers.
American Red Cross Armed Forces -- Offers medical services to active duty, veterans, reservists and families nationwide.
Angels of Mercy / No Soldier Left in Need -- Donate clothes to wounded soldiers returning stateside, or donate to long-term rehabilitation programs
Armed Services Blood Program -- Donate blood that will be sent to areas of need around the world.
Blinded Veterans Association -- Volunteer and scholarship organization provides care and support for blind veterans and their families.
CAUSE: Comfort for America's Uniformed Services Elite -- Provides comfort items for troops recuperating in military hospitals and rehabilitation centers from wounds and injuries.
Fisher House -- Support families whose loved ones are being treated at military and VA hospitals.
VA Voluntary Service -- Volunteer to help care for wounded veterans.
The Walter Reed Society -- Walter Reed Society helps provide for the needs of many returning injured servicemembers and their families.
USO -- Donations to the USO pay for hospital support for recuperating soldiers, USO entertainment tours and other important services.
Transition, Scholarships and Vocation Rehabilitation
These organizations provide transitions services, scholarships and vocational programs to help servicemembers and their families re-integrate in to the civilian world.
The Freedom Alliance -- Organizes donations and contributions for our servicemembers, and also awards scholarships.
Operation Purple -- National Military Family Association (NMFA) volunteer program provides educational camps for military children.
Soldiers' Angels -- Support group aids wounded Soldiers with transitional backpacks, personal visits, and phone calls, etc., and also sends thanks via letters and email to the U.S. military and its allies.
Counseling and Other Relief and Support Organizations
The following organizations provide a wide range of services and support for our troops and wounded veterans including counseling, financial support, housing, emergency services and more:
Air Force Aid Society -- Official support and relief organization for Air Force servicemembers, veterans, and families.
American Legion -- Organizes blood donation, volunteer networks, purchase flags of support, and more.
The Armed Forces Foundation -- Provides support and education help to our troops.
Armed Services YMCA -- Provides educational, recreational, social and religious support to the military.
Army Emergency Relief -- Official support and relief organization for Army servicemembers, veterans, and families.
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance -- Major support and relief organization for Coast Guard servicemembers, veterans, and families.
Freedom Calls Foundation -- Contribute to videoconferencing facilities that put servicemembers in touch with their families.
Freedom Fund -- Send letters of thanks to the troops, or donate to funds that support deploying servicemembers.
The Home Front Cares -- Provides support for the Pikes Peak Region's military families of all services by distributing funds, goods and services to needy families.
Homes for Our Troops -- Assists injured veterans and their families by building new or adapting existing homes for handicapped accessibility.
Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund -- Fund provides unrestricted grants to the families of military personnel who have given their lives in the current operations in defense of our country.
Military Pets Foster Project -- Nationwide network of foster homes cares for the pets of deployed personnel.
Navy/Marine Relief Society -- Official support and relief organization for Navy servicemembers, veterans, and families.
Operation Child Care -- Provides child care services for the families of Reserve and National Guard members.
Operation Hero Miles -- Donate your unused frequent flyer files to servicemembers.
Special Operations Warrior Foundation -- Provides college scholarship grants, financial aid and educational counseling to the children of Special Operations personnel killed in an operational mission or training accident.
The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) -- Provides services and support for survivors of late servicemembers.
Unmet Needs -- Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) program donates money to help with military families' financial necessities.
Veterans and Families -- Sacramento, Calif.-based organization is building support services for returning veterans.
Veterans of Foreign Wars -- Features a full range of veteran services and advocacy programs.
Wounded Warriors Fund -- Donates everything from phone cards to TVs to wounded soldiers.
Yellow Ribbon America -- Show your support with a yellow ribbon.