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Nov-30-2007 05:15printcomments

Wounded Vets Cut off From Old Fashioned Holiday Correspondence

Is the risk of "terror" mail so great that we have to cut out wounded soldiers?

Salem-News.com
Salem-News.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - Walter Reed Army Medical Center officials want to remind everyone that mail addressed to 'Any Wounded Soldier' or 'A Recovering American Soldier' will not be processed, anytime anywhere. Holiday correspondence has been eliminated over an apparent fear of terrorist threat.

Welcome to fear central, where soldiers lose their most minimal allowances over a falsely perceived threat of "terrorism". When will this sense of paranoia finally depart? We have become a nation of fear-mongers as the administration tries to justify its war on terrorism. I guess they just have to play the game through. In this case it means that the poorest and most obscure vets will get nothing for Christmas, not a card, not a gift, not even a greeting from school kids.

Maybe it has happened, but I know of no stories of war vets receiving envelopes with white powder or ticking bombs. Could it be just another overreaction? The victims, the wounded soldiers and Marines and sailors and airmen probably won't complain much, they are out of sight and out of mind, more now than ever. Sending mail in a generic old fashioned way to random soldiers has been eliminated under President Bush's Homeland Security program.

The Walter Reed Medical Center says they support the decision by the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Transportation Policy in 2001 that eliminated that ability for soldiers to hear from people who just simply care.

So it seems logical that well intended people should at least be able to get names, right? Here is a response that Salem-News.com received from Walter Reed, "Names cannot be provided due to privacy rules established by HIPAA."

Story continues below

"This decision was made to ensure the safety and well being of patients and staff at medical centers throughout the Department of Defense," a release from Walter Reed stated.

Not just Walter Reed

In addition, the U.S. Postal Service is no longer accepting 'Any Service Member' or 'A Recovering American Soldier' letters or packages. Mail to "Any Service Member" that is deposited into a collection box will not be delivered.

So much for the soldiers that have little family, their ability to receive post cards from little kids has been eliminated for the sake of freedom, at least that's what it comes down to. How ironic is that?

I sincerely doubt that terrorists were sending dangerous items to our wounded veterans, I suspect even they have some degree of respect for a nation's wounded warriors.

This strikes me as nothing more than another blow to the wounded veteran, keeping them anonymous and quiet in one more way by denying them the right to receive an unsolicited holiday gift or greeting.

Another day, another hit. Do we forget that many of our nation's wounded vets have little in the way of resources? They were taken out on a battlefield, they often have few family members, and now our government reminds us that they have found a way to make them a little more nameless, a little more faceless.

There are some answers thanks to the volunteer actions of veterans and other groups. If you would like to send a letter to military personnel your best bet is to visit a VFW post in your area for assistance: Find a VFW post in your area. They will do what they can to assist people.

Another way to get around these rules is to visit anysoldier.com, which is dedicated to getting mail to the soldiers overseas. According to this site, there is no USPS regulation concerning "Any Soldier", however there is a DOD Postal Manual (DOD 4525.6-M) Issue #22093 dated January 9th 2003, which states, "a. Mail addressed to "Any Service Member," or similar wording such as "Any Soldier," "Sailor," "Airman," or "Marine"; "Military Mail", etc., is prohibited. Mail must be addressed to an individual or job title such as "Commander," "Commanding Officer," etc."

And yet another site you can visit to make contact with our troops overseas is americasupportsyou.mil . They do many positive things for our servicemembers and the group is directly associated with the U.S. government.

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center will continue to receive process and deliver all mail that is addressed to a specific individual.

------------------------------------------------------------
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with almost twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist and reporter. Today, in addition to his role as a war correspondent in Afghanistan where he spent the winter of 2006/07, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated only with Google News. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




Comments

Internal Comments are Closed on this story.



Jefferson December 5, 2007 9:17 am (Pacific time)

Neal I certainly predate the 1970's (are you a veteran Neal? If you are, then are you a "high stress" combat veteran? Less than 10% of all combat veterans fall under this classification.), but alas, you have no experience in this area but still you insist to continue offering your opinion as though you do. Let me give you some insight my highly inexperienced youngster: For example, let's take the various news stories by the NY Times who claim to be exposing some classified issue from some unknown source...this is simply a way for our various government agencies to find out who is leaking...if you knew anything about counter-intelligence procedures you would understand, maybe not in your case. This "ban" you label as recent is not recent, get it?! You are looking for documented cases when the military has chosen not to share this with the public, currently or going back decades. Even now prior military personnel are bound by non-disclosure requirements that will put them in prison (except Sandy Burger) if they disclose certain facts, even though some of those facts are in the public domain. As I wrote below, our current military personnel and our hospitalized veterans will not be empty-handed over the holidays, nor during the non-holiday periods. You realize how many veteran group's and volunteers are out there helping? Isn't that what you are concerned about, or is it just your childish way of taking sophmoric potshots at those who see you as something akin to a gnat? Increase your fiber intake Neal!


Neal Feldman December 4, 2007 11:32 pm (Pacific time)

Jefferson -considering the anonymous supported soldier thing being banned is a RECENT thing (which is why it is a topic of an article) I find your last statements quite interesting indeed. And my interaction with the military began in the 70s if it matters. Ah well..,


Jefferson December 4, 2007 10:13 am (Pacific time)

Neal you are right you do not know anything about this situation and the reasons for the decisions. My experience goes back decades, probably before you were born, these safety precautions pre-date Nixon. It's unfortunate you simply cannot learn new things about the world you live in Neal. You are an excellent example of where public education has failed and why we need to dismantle it before more minds are ruined...Happy Hanukkah Neal.


Neal Feldman December 4, 2007 9:16 am (Pacific time)

Jefferson- Sorry but with the track record of this administration their claims to ;just trust them' absent clear and convincing evidence to support their claims is unreasonable... period. You can continue to claim I do not know what I am talking about when you clearly have no idea what I do or do not know. Yes there were incidents so take REASONABLE precautions. Tampering with OTC meds were mentioned. So was the response to eliminate any and all OTC meds? Of course not as that would have been unreasonable. REASONABLE responses to the threat were employed instead. And that is what is expected here as well by reasonable and intelligent rational individuals such as myself. Is it perfect? No. Nothing is perfect. Nothing can ever prevent any threat of harm no matter what. Living in a straitjacket of paranoid fear is never the reasonable answer. I would say surely you should realize that but you have proven you do not put forward reasonable, logical or intelligent ideas. Your idea to just trust the Shrub administration is just one case in point. Have you listened recently to the example of credibility of this administration as Karl Rove, the Architect of the shrub administration, has desperately and with great delusion begun the attempt to rewrite history claiming Shrub never wanted to go to war in Iraq but was dragged kicking and screaming by a bloodthirsty and warmongering Congress that 'forced' it on him? This is the administration that you want reasonable, intelligent and sane to just believe on face value because they have so consistently proven themselves to be so gosh-darn trustworthy, huh? Shya-right. Anyone who believes your BS I have some lovely oceanfront property in Kansas to sell them! Ah well...


Jefferson December 3, 2007 10:32 am (Pacific time)

Neal as I wrote in my below post, the investigator's are generally not going to share with the public about their investigations. I assure you reader's out there from my experience (a while back) there were/are frequent attacks on our military personnel via the mail and in so many other ways. Public documentation of these acts are minimized for a variety of reasons. You just be glad there are adults out there minding the store for people like you Neal. My background re: military experience and my [extensive] ongoing support for our active military and our veterans is not a topic for this website at this time, but I imagine you have as much military background as Neil Goldschmidt, feldman. If you are providing active support, then good for you Neal...kudos!


Neal Feldman December 2, 2007 7:54 pm (Pacific time)

Oh, and Jefferson, the day that passes that I do not support the troops and vets more than you do in an entire year with your deluded ravings the sky will turn plaid and the sun will rise at midnight. But like I said do continue exhibiting your lunacy... It is very amusing indeed. Ah well...


Neal Feldman December 2, 2007 7:50 pm (Pacific time)

Jefferson - again your BS is obvious and empty... paranoid ravings showing only that the terrorists have won as they clearly have you scared well beyond rational thought. In the case of product tampering protections there were axtual documented cases and the response was as minimal as needed to deal with virtually all of the threat. In the case of this policy, as shown already, there has been ZERO actual cases shown to justify even increased scrutiny of military mail, much less the complete ban with this policy. Sorry to inform you but your paranoid rants do not amount to justification for policies such as this. You have yet to show otherwise. But do keep trying. You are very amusing in your impotent ineffectiveness. Ah well...


Jefferson December 2, 2007 6:16 pm (Pacific time)

Neal and concerned Americans, as you all know when you purchase an OTC medication, even a jar of mayonnaise, these products often come with some type of safety-guard packaging. This type of packaging began shortly after several people were poisoned to death when they purchased tylenol. Needless to say there are a lot of kooks out there who want to harm others; our military personnel are big targets for these kinds of people not to mention our terrorist' enemies are always looking for new ways to kill us. When you get a letter or package from someone you know, you have a high confidence level that you will not be harmed. Those that are sent anonymously create a dangerous situation. Military investigators (civilian as well) do not share their investigative tactics and strategies with the public (including you Neal, shock huh!?), nor should they, for it may compromise their investigation. People I assure you all of our men and women in the military, whether in the battlefields or hospitals will be receiving loads of mail and packages from "safe" sources. There are situations that must be investigated to secure the safety of our military personnel, and of course there are those individuals/groups who simply want to stir the pot so to speak. 365 days a year you have literally thousands of volunteers providing comfort(s) to both are active military and our veterans. The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, to name just a few are always providing "human contact" with those who have and are protecting us. What would be great is if more of you posters would get involved and help when you can, talk is cheap, right Neal!!


Neal Feldman December 2, 2007 12:22 pm (Pacific time)

Jefferson - Your lame BS never changes. My question still stands, and you have done nothing to meet its challenge. Eazymoney is right... the terrorists have won. We have proven this by how much they have changed this nation since 9-11-01 all the way up to including this lame policy change against an activity that brought joy and support to many soldiers and kids too. Sure there is a lot i am not privvy to, but the fact remains that nothing credible has been shown to justify this. Shrub and Co could justify ANYTHING (and more often try to than any previous administration) with secretive claims that we just do not know what they know. That kind of crap does not wash in an allegedly free country. But then again I just need to think of who I am talking to now and it all becomes clearer. Ah well...


EazyMoney December 1, 2007 9:25 am (Pacific time)

The terrorists have won.


Jefferson December 1, 2007 8:29 am (Pacific time)

So neal I'm sure you have a lot of insight into veteran's (and active duty military) issues, so what do your sources tell you? Could, just possibly, something be going on that your not privy to? Our military will be getting their mail, etc. . Security issues are not public issues!


Neal Feldman November 30, 2007 3:18 pm (Pacific time)

What credible 'threat' has been substantiated to justify this? This is just yet another example of use, abuse then discard our troops. I is disgusting and the person responsible for the policy should be urinated and defecated upon by the entire US Military... active, reserve and retired. Ah well...


Vic November 30, 2007 9:10 am (Pacific time)

This is insane ! The vets should be able to choose if they want to be exposed to this "threat" or not. I doubt any would opt out. Unbelievable !!!


Sue November 30, 2007 7:37 am (Pacific time)

This story breaks my heart. Who are the terrorists? Seems like this administration has spread more terror than any other organization.

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