Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Photo by vastateparksstaff, via Flickr

Before my husband even considered joining the Army, I was working in an 8th grade English class. Motivated by a conversation we had with the students regarding Veterans' Day, the teacher adopted a platoon on behalf of our classes. We had only two responsibilities: write letters every week, and send one care package a month. The results were so inspiring, I adopted my own platoon when I became a high school English teacher.

(I really want to share our amazing stories with you, but first I want to tell you how you can support our troops!)

Adopt-A-Platoon is a fantastic organization. They really have their youknowwhat together when it comes to matching you up with a soldier (or marine, sailor, or airman--all branches are supported) or unit, they make if very easy for anyone to participate, and they are extremely clear about the rules of the organization and laws regarding OPSEC. Seriously, I knew nothing about the military, or even sending packages overseas for that matter, and had a ton of questions before I signed up. Their website is so thorough and intuitive, I never had to look very far for answers, and when I did have to send an e-mail, the responses were quick, personal, and just as thorough.

Even if you don't have 150 middle school students to help you write letters every week, you can still make a difference:

  • Adopt a soldier! As an individual or small family, you can adopt up to four troops. You'll be asked to send at least one letter or card a week and one care package per month. 
  • If you feel that you will be unable to send a care package, you can sign up as a pen-pal and send a weekly card or letter. A lot of soldiers don't have access to national news or current events outside of their job, so they like to hear about what's going on "back home." We always ended up sending the sports section of the local paper with our letters along with updates on upcoming movies, celebrity gossip, and other trivia.
  • If you want to send a single care package, you can sign up specifically for a one-time campaign, like Operation Holiday Eagle or Stockings for Santa.
If you would like to involve your church, company, school, youth group, or other civic organization (Rotary, Kiwanis, Boy/Girl scouts, etc.) I urge you to consider adopting a platoon. You will be in touch with a Point-of-Contact (POC) for the unit, and there is no guarantee you will hear back from the troops, but we always did!
     The first time, we were sent a flag, pictures, and letters from individual soldiers as well as information and a brief history on their specific unit. It was a GREAT learning experience for our students. A lot of them left with a new perspective on the military and even a new sense of self, realizing that a lot of the soldiers with which they communicated were very much like them. 
     The second time, our POC actually sent us a weekly newsletter (which I read to my 11th grade classes) and they loved that he commented on their letters! Once the deployment ended, he actually took a "Thank You" tour around the country to personally meet and thank everyone that supported his unit. He came to my classroom and spoke to my students! (He also took my husband and myself out to dinner *twice*. Not to brag, but how cool is that?! And as a new military spouse, the information and advice I received from him and his wife was absolutely invaluable.)

If you are looking for a way to teach your children about giving back this holiday season or you just want to support our troops, please check out Adopt-A-Platoon.

*It may sound like an advertisement, but I was not compensated or even asked by anybody to write this post. I believe strongly in supporting our troops, and AAP truly is a wonderful organization.

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