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Wounded Vets Cut off From Old Fashioned Holiday CorrespondenceTim King Salem-News.com
Is the risk of "terror" mail so great that we have to cut out wounded soldiers?
(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."
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"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.
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