Nothing makes you feel the quite the same thrill as receiving a handwritten letter. No matter if it’s scribbled on a piece of scrap paper or written in gorgeous calligraphy on personalized stationery, a note that took time and effort to write is something you are sure to treasure. And who deserves a beautiful gift like that more than the service members in the military that are stationed overseas, away from their friends, families, pets and homes? Today, more and more people are joining the ranks of military pen pals to send these brave souls a little piece of home that includes encouragement, hope and gratitude.
If, like many of us, you’re juggling a busy schedule including work, family and any kind of free time you can squeeze in, perhaps the idea of becoming a pen pal appeals to you. This is an easy way to send someone a message who will appreciate it with all their heart, and they deserve it – they’re fighting for your freedom!
Organizations like Military Pen Pals and Any Soldier offer this personal and touching service to people just like you. You can send a bit of home to the people fighting to keep it safe. You can be easily connected with military personnel and civilian contractors who are stationed around the world. Many of these service members would cherish a supportive note or care package, no matter how simple or grand, and every gesture you send counts.
Even stationers are getting involved in the campaign to connect pen pals with service members. For example, CardsDirect has patriotic designs for you to choose from. We even created a gigantic greeting card called the “Texas Sized Card” that we placed at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, because that is one of the top entry points for military members returning home. During the week of Veterans’ Day, hundreds of people who passed through the airport saw and signed this thank-you card that was addressed to the troops. It’s a given that when the soldiers received that card their smiles were as big as Texas itself.
So, if the idea of becoming a pen pal appeals to you, let’s get ready to write. Here are some tips to inspire you:
What should I write?
Imagine you’re writing to a dear friend or family member, and remember to always send a positive message and be encouraging. Don’t use your letter to vent, because the troops reading your letters are under stress and just want a kind word to help them unwind. Use the “polite company rule” when you’re composing your message – it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid topics on religion and politics. Just be your genuine, conversational and caring self, and it will come through in your writing.
Introduce yourself to your new friend
You might be unsure of how to address your first letter, so use the request for information as your guide. If a soldier uses their first name, you should feel comfortable to do that too. If they use their rank and last name, follow their lead. If you run into a situation where you are only given the branch of the military the soldier serves in, use the proper salutation. but remember that all troops are not soldiers, only Army members are Soldiers. Members of the Air Force are Airmen, Navy members are Sailors, and those in the Marine Corps are Marines. If you aren’t given a name or a branch, write “Dear Service Member.”
Then, feel free to introduce yourself and why you’re writing. In some cases, a fellow service member may have submitted a request because a friend needed a morale boost, so you may surprise a soldier with your message. If you have any personal information about them, like where they are from, include it at the beginning. Let them know you want to get to know them because you appreciate their hard work and sacrifice, and you’ll make a good impression.
Paint a picture with words
It goes without saying that many soldiers are homesick. So, a great topic that is always appreciated is the subject of home. Describe where you live, the weather, and light-hearted current events. Paint them a picture that transports them, even for a little while. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you’d like to read if you were far from home and family. There is no doubt soldiers will treasure the imagery you can send to them with just the tip of your pen.
You can close your letter with a sincere thanks for all they do, and some easy questions to facilitate their answer back to you. No matter what, your gesture will be a heartfelt gift to the service members overseas, and it’s a great way to keep their morale up. You can feel great knowing you have created a connection with someone who really needs a piece of home to hold in their hands.
Check out CardsDirect for hundreds of stationery options to choose from. A card from CardsDirect never fails to brighten someone’s day, no matter how far away they are.