29 March, 2006

AnySoldier.com Needs You

Being a Soldiers' Angel through my involvement with Valour-IT, I feel almost traitorous for posting this. But AnySoldier.com is in desperate need right now. They are literally in danger of having to shutdown due to operating costs.

To say that AnySoldier.com is a big part of the reason Valour-IT exists today wouldn't be a stretch. When I went looking for ways to support the troops, I found AnySoldier and Soldiers' Angels. Being the impatient person I am, I opted for AnySoldier since they didn't require you to register in order to adopt someone. I dove into AnySoldier with both feet, sending nearly 60 packages in about 7 months.

Being such a civilian, I needed to learn as much as I could about soldiers in general and what it was like to be deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, etc. So, I went searching online and discovered Milblogs. After over a year as a regular commenter in the milblog world (under another name), I found CPT Z's blog. And it was his experiences as a wounded warrior that led us to work together in the creation of Valour-IT.

A lot of "competition" can develop between volunteer organizations who coordinate care packages and letters to troops, but that shouldn't be a consideration. They all do great work, just from different angles. AnySoldier (along with Soldiers' Angels) is probably one of the two largest. Since its inception, AnySoldier has connected thousands of grateful Americans with nearly half a million deployed troops around the world. They are an easy way for supporters to send just one note or package, or adopt an entire platoon. Their unique format also allows deployed personnel to easily communicate back with their supporters through the blog-like "Where to Send" section.

It was through AnySoldier that I "met" cigar-chomping Marine CPT B, as well as the Army SGT who told me about daily life on his base and described the men of his unit with such understated affection, the Special Forces MAJ who made my letter required reading for his men, the Marine Recon GySgt who gave me the greatest compliment I'd received at that point in my life ("one hell of a great lady") and cried when I told him my students said he had a "kind and gentle" face despite the huge weapon he carried in his picture, and so many others who inspired me. It was the people I supported through AnySoldier who put me on the path I now follow.

So while it feels somewhat traitorous to write this, I believe that AnySoldier is as worthy of your support as Valour-IT and Soldiers' Angels. They have a unique service that attracts supporters who wouldn't participate in the formalized process of Soldiers' Angels and others, or who are more comfortable picking a person to support instead of just accepting who they're assigned. Please check out AnySoldier and consider helping them out. They're good people, and they are the nexus of a vast and amazing world of support for our deployed military personnel.