Monday, October 24, 2011

Walter Reed: The Return of the Holiday Mail

This is one blog post that I can honestly say I have been planning to make all year.

Last November, as long-time readers of the blog may recall, I jumped at the chance to spread the word about Holiday Mail for Heroes, which allows us all to send holiday greeting cards to soldiers recovering in military hospitals.  It remains the single most widely-read post I've ever written on the blog, and I'm hoping that means that a lot of people actually sent cards.  I even got a thank-you comment from the staff at Walter Reed Hospital.

Here's the thing.  Very soon, well-meaning but ill-informed people will begin suggesting to their Twitter followers, Facebook friends, and other social media connections that "when writing out your Christmas cards this year, address one to Any Recovering Soldier at the Walter Reed Hospital!"


Sorry for the caps, but I can't stress this enough.  Mail addressed to "Any Recovering Soldier" at any military hospital will be destroyed unopened.  Like most prevalent urban myths, there's truth to this one; years ago, you could legitimately do this and the mail would reach a soldier in need of some holiday cheer.  In recent years, however, that practice has been discarded because there's too much of a chance to send something unpleasant through the mail.

Instead, send your cards to the Holiday Mail for Heroes program, which is run by the American Red Cross.  They will see to it that a hospitalized soldier or sailor will receive your good wishes.  Just make sure everything you send adheres to their guidelines:
  • Sign all of your cards.
  • Do not enclose anything - no photos, money, business cards, religious tracts, anything.  All inserts will be removed and thrown away.
  • Do not include any contact information. 
  • Use a generic greeting, like "Dear Service Member." 
  • No letters - cards only.
  • Participants should limit the number of cards they submit to 25 from any one person or 50 from any one class or group. If you are mailing a large quantity, please bundle the cards and place them in large mailing envelopes. Each card does not need its own envelope, as envelopes will be removed from all cards before distribution.  (This one I copied verbatim from the site.)
  • NO GLITTER.  It poses too much of a threat to patients with respiratory ailments.
Once you've got all your cards together, pack them up as described above and send them to:

Holiday Mail For Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Make sure your cards are postmarked no later than Friday, December 9, 2011 in order to ensure timely delivery to the recipients.

Please spread the word!  Let's get the correct information out there ahead of the prevalent mistake, and maybe Walter Reed Hospital won't have so many cards to throw away this year.


  1. Thank you for the information on this, I always mean to do something like this but forget in the holiday rush. Trying to get started early this year, I think this is one address that will be added to the Christmas card list!

  2. Hi Laura! This is Gloria from the Red Cross - thanks a bunch for putting the info on Holiday Mail for Heroes out there! This is really helpful. Cheers,


  3. Hi Gloria! Thanks so much for stopping by - I'm glad to do what I can!


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