What Can I Do To Support Our Troops?

The Question is What can I do to support our troops? And the Answer, provided by the Public Affairs Office at the Niagara Falls Air Force Base follows:
   Thank you for thinking of our troops! Thousands of Americans are asking what they can do to show their support for servicemembers, especially those serving overseas in this time of war. Below are Web sites for several organizations that are sponsoring programs for members of the Armed Forces overseas. While it would be inappropriate for the Department to endorse any specifically, servicemembers do value and appreciate such expressions of support:
• The American Red Cross is launching Treasures for Troops, an exciting year round program that offers a way for Americans to brighten the day for deployed men and women in uniform serving overseas. You can provide troops with a gift from home with a $20 donation to the American Red Cross Treasures for the Troops program. Details at:
• Operation Hero Miles: In September 2003, the Pentagon started giving soldiers stationed in Iraq two-week leave periods in the largest R & R program since the Vietnam War; the soldiers can fly to Germany or Baltimore Washington International Airport for free, but they are responsible for the cost of flights to their final destination. Returning soldiers often have to purchase high-priced, last-minute airline tickets so they can spend time with their family. You can help American troops travel home to spend quality time with their loved ones. For more information, please see: http://www.heromiles.org/index.html
• Contribute to "Gifts from the Homefront" Certificates from the Army Air Force Exchange System (AAFES). These allow you to send a gift certificate to a loved one, family member or friend associated with the military. These certificates are redeemable by authorized patrons of the PX/BX and are redeemable at all locations around the world including deployed areas. For more information, please see: http://www.aafes.com/docs/homefront.htm.
• Donate to "Operation USO Care Package" at http://www.usocares.org/src/uso_home.htm
• The Gift of Groceries program at http://www.commissaries.com/certificheck/.htm helps meet the family needs of our Guard and Reserve troops fighting the war on terrorism.
• Donate a calling card to help keep servicemembers in touch with their families at Operation Uplink at http://www.operationuplink.org/
• Send a greeting via e-mail through Operation Dear Abby at http://anyservicemember.navy.mil/ or http://www.OperationDearAbby.net
• Sign a virtual thank you card at the Defend America Web site at http://www.defendamerica.mil/nmam.html
• The "Stars and Stripes" newspaper includes a daily ""Messages of Support" section giving family and friends of deployed service members a chance to pass along greetings, announcements, and words of encouragement. Such messages (LIMITED TO 50 WORDS OR LESS) will be printed on a first-come, first-run basis. Messages may be sent to:
• Make a donation to one of the military relief societies:
- Army Emergency Relief at http://www.aerhq.org/
- Navy/Marine Relief Society at http://www.nmcrs.org/
• Air Force Aid Society at http://www.afas.org/
• Coast Guard Mutual Assistance at http://www.cgmahq.org/
• Special Operations Warrior Foundation at http://www.specialops.org/contribute.html
• Support the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services at http://www.redcross.org/services/afes/
• Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors at http://www.taps.org
• National Military Family Association at http://www.nmfa.org
• Purchase a Patriot Bond at http://www.ustreas.gov
• Volunteer at a VA Hospital to honor veterans who bore the lamp of freedom in past conflicts.
• Reach out to military families in your community, especially those with a loved one overseas.
   Please do not flood the military mail system with letters, cards, and gifts. Due to security concerns and transportation constraints, the Department cannot accept items to be mailed to "Any Servicemember." Some people have tried to avoid this prohibition by sending large numbers of packages to an individual servicemember's address, which, however well intentioned, clogs the mail and causes unnecessary delays.
   The support and generosity of the American people has touched the lives of the more than 300,000 service members deployed overseas.