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06-28-05, 11:58 AM
Dropping soldiers letters
Published Tuesday June 28 2005
The Beaufort Gazette

The plight of U.S. troops killed or injured overseas has become a part of the national conscience as the war in Iraq entered its third year this March.
Along with this awareness, an increased desire to help those injured in Iraq and Afghanistan has blossomed.

From care packages to prayers, the simplest of gestures can mean the world to troops who have come home with injuries that are often life changing. For Beaufort City Councilwoman Donnie Beer, letting those injured troops know that citizens are thinking about them, even if they never meet face to face, helps convey the gratitude of a nation.

As a result, Beer recently started a program to send cards to injured troops who are staying at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Across the county, letter drop boxes are available to anybody who wants to send a letter to an injured member of the military, Beer said.

"A lot of times, the wounded get forgotten when they get home," Beer said. "I'm trying to get the public aware of this so that they can start dropping off cards."

Residents can drop the cards off at any of the drop boxes, she said. No postage is needed because a local merchant agreed to pay the cost.

This localized effort geared toward injured service personnel is being aided on various fronts throughout Beaufort, she said.

John Horton, who owns The UPS Store on Scott Street in downtown Beaufort, will foot the bill for postage and send the cards to North Carolina.

This small token makes him feel like he's doing something for those who have sacrificed themselves for the country, Horton said.

"I just think it's a very worthwhile project," he said. "It's the least we can do in trying to support our military people."

Cards with personalized notes are fine, and return addresses are optional, but Beer said they should be unsealed.

"Unfortunately these days, you don't know what people are putting in them," she said.

Drop-off spots include Beaufort City Hall, Port Royal Town Hall and a host of local businesses, she said.

Beer said she is also looking into getting drop boxes placed at area schools.

"If everybody in Beaufort did just one card, imagine how many cards those people would get," Beer said.

The program will go on for as long as people drop off cards, she said.

There are plenty of injured troops for caring card-givers.

By June 4, more than 13,000 troops have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Wounded troops sacrifice so much for their country and should not be forgotten, even as troops deaths can seem more urgent in the minds of citizens, Beer said.

"Those that have been wounded have given almost as much as those who have been killed," she said. "But those who have been injured mentally or physically need our lifelong support. These are our young, and their whole life has been changed."

With the card-sending program requiring just a note and a card dropped off, Beer said she hopes the convenience of the program will encourage participation.

Monique Allshouse, director of operations for the Jacksonville, N.C., USO center, which is working with Beer on the program, said the benefit of cards from Beaufort County residents is apparent.

"It's morale, 100 percent," she said. "It lets the service members know that there are lots of people who are concerned about how they feel and what they are doing."