If you’ve ever been away from home for an extended period of time, you know what it’s like to miss your friends, family, and normal home life. Soldiers in the military overseas are feeling the same way – multiplied by 100 (or more). Not only are soldiers homesick, they often feel lonely, afraid, or sad. Because soldiers are incredibly brave and selfless to be doing what they do, you don’t want them to feel upset, especially if any are your friends or family members.
One of the best ways you can support soldiers is by sending them letters. Soldiers love receiving mail, especially unexpected or frequent mail, because it gives them a pleasant surprise and gives them something to look forward to. Most importantly, it makes them feel connected to home. If you know a soldier, you should write to them today. If you don’t, there are organizations online like Soldier’s Angels (SoldiersAngels.org) and Forgotten Soldiers Outreach (ForgottenSoldiers.org) that will connect you with a soldier you can write to. When you sit down to craft your letter, here are some tips on what to write and what not to write.
Be Positive and Upbeat
Nothing will bring a soldier down more than receiving a letter that contains stuff that’s sad or negative. Your letters should always have a positive and upbeat tone to them, even when you don’t really feel that way. Your soldier has so much on their plate already, and you shouldn’t give them anymore burdens to carry. Don’t complain or talk about mundanely negative things like a bad day at work. You want your letter to lift a soldier’s spirits, make them happy, and give them hope.
Be Sincere and Personal
Try to write your letter as if you’re speaking directly to your soldier. You should try to make the letters personal rather than generic whenever possible. Talk about things you and your soldier have in common or things between just the two of you. Most of all, you should sound sincere. If you go overboard with exaggeration or long, showy expressions of praise and gratitude, it could come off as insincere.
Be Funny and Exciting
Soldiers appreciate any mail they receive, even boring recounts of recent events back home. They appreciate even more letters that are funny or exciting. If you can make a soldier laugh or feel excited and happy, you’ve done an excellent job. Sometimes all you have to do is include a really funny joke you recently heard. No matter what you’re writing, try to be descriptive and engaging.
Be Creative and Illustrative
The envelope with your letter doesn’t have to contain just words. You can get creative and draw some pictures, too. You might not be a fabulous artist, but your soldier won’t care and will still love it. You could also cut out pictures from magazines. If you have children, send their artwork. If you discuss a recent event in your town, send a news clipping that describes it more in detail. Some of the best things you can include are photographs from back home.
Arnie Jefferson is a former military serviceman and freelance writer who loves to blog about everything from what to get soldiers to new robotics technology.
Photo Credit: William Arthur Fine Stationery