Gift certificates provide holiday support to ‘Any Service Member’
With the holidays approaching, many Americans are searching for ways to reach out to troops stationed overseas but fewer options are available.
“Due to security concerns and transportation constraints, DOD no longer accepts items to be mailed to ‘Any Service Member,'” the U.S. Department of Defense announced last week, in anticipation of a rush of mail from well-wishers.
Those wishing to send support to troops overseas have another option. The Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s “Gifts from the Homefront” and “Help Our Troops Call Home” programs allow direct contributions toward the morale of deployed troops without compromising security or increasing the strain on the military mail system.
DOD reports that some people have tried to avoid the prohibition by sending large numbers of packages to an individual service member’s overseas address, which, according to the DOD, clog the mail system and cause delays in delivery. Also, military APO cannot guarantee delivery by a specific date due to processing constraints.
“Gifts from the Homefront” certificates, which can be purchased by any individual, business or civic organization, allow troops to purchase items at PX and BX facilities around the world including 51 exchanges in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. The gift certificates may be personalized with a holiday message.
Because the gift certificates can be used for merchandise already at contingency locations, “Gifts from the Homefront” are a safe alternative to traditional care packages.
Service members can purchase exactly what they need with the certificates from a wide range of products. Reports from Iraq and Afghanistan indicate the certificates are being used for CDs and DVDs, comfort items such as snacks and beverages and phone cards.
To send “Gifts from the Homefront,” log on aafes.com or call 1-877-770-4438. “Help Our Troops Call Home” phone cards are also available at aafes.com or by calling 800-527-2345. From there, the gift certificates and phone cards may be sent to an individual service member or distributed to “any service member” through the USO, American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society or Fisher House.