Military personnel serving in war torn countries put their lives on the line twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week while fighting for the rights and freedom of others. They may go without sleep or meals when duty calls and have little in the way of home comforts. Hundreds and often thousands of miles away from home, their priority remains performing the duties for which they were trained while trying to stay alive. Civilians on the home front of all ages can adopt a soldier as a penpal as a means of showing appreciation and gratitude for their efforts abroad.
Becoming a Soldier's Penpal
Weeks or months may go by before a soldier receives greetings from home. Depending on where a soldier is assigned, he or she may get little news of events occurring elsewhere in the world. A penpal may be the only connection they have with the world outside of their combat zone. In the United States, Adopt A Soldier, Any Soldier and Military Pen Pals are organizations where civilians can find the names and addresses of soldiers who are stationed overseas who more than likely would appreciate hearing from someone at home.
The First Letter
Address the individual according to the information that you have been provided. Some contact information provides a soldier's rank, first and last name, others might receive only rank and last name. If no name, rank or service branch was provided, simply address them as “Dear Service Member.” Introduce yourself by providing a little background information and tell them why you desired to write. Let them know if you have any personal information about them. Relay that you are interested in getting to know them in appreciation for their sacrifice.
How to Write
Imagine that you are carrying on a long distance conversation with a friend or family member. Keep the message positive and offer encouragement and support. Resist the urge to discuss negative topics, politics or religion. Write in a conversational tone that offers genuine caring and concern for their behalf. Think about topics that might cheer you up at the end of a long hard day. Undoubtedly many are longing to return home. Penpals might enjoy hearing detailed information about where you live, the weather, the landscape and about pleasant current events. The more descriptive the better as your words serve as a brief escape from their current situation. You might ask simple questions of what their day entails, assigned duties and living conditions.
Individuals, families, church or school groups often create surprise packages for their soldier penpals. These gifts might include popular local food or snack items, mementos or personal products that are not readily available at their duty station. All involved typically also include heartfelt greetings.