I. Letters to Currently Deployed Service Members and Wounded Warriors
II. Letters to Veterans of Previous Conflicts
III. Responses from Veterans
IV. Beautiful Tribute to Veterans
I. LETTERS TO CURRENTLY DEPLOYED SERVICE MEMBERS and WOUNDED WARRIORS
Our troops tell us the most cherished items in the packages are the personal letters of appreciation from Americans. We welcome as many letters as you can provide. We accept letters year-round.
It will only take 5 minutes out of your day to write a letter, but it will bring joy to our troops that will last a lifetime.
WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT
Keep your message upbeat and positive Be thankful– share a little bit of yourself Ask questions; however, do not discuss death or killing Avoid politics completely and religious in excess It iss all about appreciation and respect Ask yourself: Will this letter bring a smile to someones face?
MORE HELPFUL INFORMATION
-Sample salutations: Dear Hero, Dear Brave One
-Include your own mail or email so recipients can choose to reply
STUDENTS: Use first name only plus teacher’s name/classroom and school address
TEACHERS: Use your name and contact information on students letters
-No stamps or envelopes are needed
-Hand Written letters or cards are most appreciated
-No glitter please
-All letters will be screened – please do not seal envelopes.
-Send multiple letters together in one large mailing envelope or box.
-If you do not receive a reply from a Service Member, do not be discouraged. Remember: Our troops are busy!
-When you do receive responses, please screen the letters before giving to your students.
WOUNDED WARRIORS PROGRAM
We send special packages to Wounded service members who are recovering in Military hospitals and/or Wounded Warrior Transition Units. If you would like to send letters specifically for our wounded heroes, please send them in a separate envelope marked: Wounded Warriors.
WHERE TO SEND
17330 Victory Blvd
Van Nuys, CA 91406
(Please send Wounded Warrior letters separately and mark as such)
II. LETTERS TO VETERANS OF PREVIOUS CONFLICTS
America owes our Military Veterans an eternal debt of gratitude. Now is your chance to thank those courageous Veterans who served our nation in past military conflicts. Here is what you can do:
A. Send us the name and Address of a Veteran
If you know a Veteran who would like to receive a Letter of Gratitude, please provide the name of the Veteran, regular mailing address (we want them to receive the letter in their physical mailbox at home), and specify in which war(s) they served to. Email the information to Penny Alfonso at: OpGratVolunteer1@yahoo.com
B. Write a Letter of Gratitude to a Veteran
It is long overdue, but never too late. Write a Letter of Gratitude to a Veteran thanking them for all they did for our country.
1. Please make sure your letters will fit in a standard size envelope; please avoid using greeting cards as they will not fit.
2. Include your own name and address in the body of the letter.
3. Do not write about politics, religion, death or killing.
4. Please do not use glitter.
5. This is strictly a letter-writing effort to thank Veterans; please do not send any care package items for Veterans.
6. All letters will be screened.
7. Send multiple letters together in one large mailing envelope or box.
Please send as many letters (or copies with original signature) as you would like by regular mail only to:
Thank a Veteran
c/o Penny Alfonso
1970 Rangeview Drive
Glendale, CA 91201
Thank you for your kind support of all our men and women of the U.S. Military –past and present!
III. LETTERS FROM VETERANS
We received the following letters from Vietnam Veterans in response to receiving Operation Gratitude Letters of Thanks:
Hi. I want to thank you for sending letters to my grandpa. He received them on his 85th birthday. He really enjoyed them, especially the one from a 5th grade student that called him her hero. He told my grandma, People really do still care. I have another name that I would like to have letters sent to if possible. He is my great-uncle. My grandma was telling me today that he is depressed and feels like he is not worth much. He was drafted and served in the army during WWII. He was injured during his service. He is 86 and could use some cheering up. Thank you again for sending the letters to my grandpa. I will be writing some letters for you to pass on to other veterans soon. L.J.
Thank you for your letters to a Vietnam Veteran and for sending the letters and cards from (and he lists the names signed on the other letters I included)… I wondered what prompted the mailing but traced it to my son, who served in the Army in early 1990. Although that was at the time of the First Gulf War, he spent his time in Germany and not in Iraq. I was a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, and my greatest achievement was surviving. I lost many friends and acquaintances. I am now 67 years young. Life is good here in Virginia. Again, I thank you for your letters and for the work and sentiments of Operation Gratitude.
When I opened your envelope today and read your letter and the 3 others you have sent me, I was profoundly moved. Through the years since I returned home, I have had people, from time to time, thank me for my service. But this is the first time I have received letters sent from the heart by people who have no idea who I am. Only the fact that I served. With each one I read, I could feel the emotions welling up inside and when I finished the last one, I was filled to bursting with pride, love for my country, and love for my people. Please accept my thanks for your thoughtfulness and caring. I never thought letters like this could have such an effect. You have given me a gift I will carry in my heart always.
Sincerely, RM2 P.R. USCG
I received your letter today. I was somewhat confused because I did not recognize your name or the organization. When I showed it to my wife, she told me that she had submitted my name to your organization. You will never fully know how much your letter means to me.
As I read it, I teared up because I can tell that you are speaking from your heart. It is because of Americans like you that veterans are proud of their service to our country and that is why our current warriors are proud to serve this great nation and its people.
I recently attended my first military reunion for the units that I served with in Viet Nam, the 1st Infantry Division and the 1st BN 26th Inf. Regiment. One of the men that I met made a comment that really hit home. He said, Finally today it is okay to be a Viet Nam Vet.
It is truly sad that it took 40 years. Because of you, it is more than just okay to be a Viet Nam Vet. You touched my heart. Thank you.
Viet Nam May, 1968-July, 1969
P.S. I am enclosing the names and addresses of two Viet Nam Vets who would be grateful to receive a letter such as the one you sent me.
IV. BEAUTIFUL TRIBUTE TO VETERANS
You don’t know me and chances are if you’re a Vietnam vet, I was very young when you were over in Vietnam or maybe not even born yet I was born in late 1967. I make it a habit of going out of my way for Vietnam vets because I know from hearing stories they were not always treated with respect or shown any appreciation for what they did during the war. My family was touched by Vietnam with my uncle’s best friend who sacrificed it all to protect this country. I grew up in a family that taught us to stand when the flag came down the parade route, and to cheer a little louder for the Vietnam vet; maybe to make up for the others over the years that were too soap boxy to realize how wrong they were in their judgments of the men and women who fought for this country for something they never understood because they were never there. A few months ago my friends and I were waiting for a table at our favorite place to eat when a man and his wife walked in. The man was wearing a nice t-shirt that said “VIETNAM VET, USMC.” I made eye contact with him and smiled; he smiled back. My friend walked over to the hostess and said something to her; I walked up to the man and said “On behalf of myself and my friends, please take the next table; we’ll wait. It’s the least we can do after all you’ve done for us.”I kissed his cheek, each of my female friends followed, the guys shook his hand. Now, my family and I breathe Marine, always have because of our family connections because of my uncle’s best friend, who obviously was a Marine, and my brother-in-law, so for me, a Marine is always a Marine. They never forget how to be a Marine. As the man walked by me, he took my hand and squeezed it. He wasn’t able to say anything else. I leaned in and said very softly “OORAH MARINE…” He replied, clear as anything, “OORAH MA’AM”. We found out that the table next to his picked up the tab for his table. He and his wife were joined by his brother and sister-in-law. He was given a standing ovation when he left…What a night it turned out to be and all because a group of 40 year olds, who don’t remember the war, said “thank you.” So, consider this my “take the next table”…
I recently read a poem written by a woman regarding the Vietnam war as it relates to all those who served; for the ones who came home, the ones that are still there and those whose names are on the Wall and I believe the last three lines sum up what I am trying to say to you perfectly:
OH MY GOD THANK YOU