Sending Love to the Troops

By David Lacy – Resident of the Westhaven community for 11 years

I know first-hand how important letters are to soldiers stationed far from home.

I enlisted in the United States Army in 1986. After finishing infantry school and airborne school, I was selected to attend The United States Military Academy at West Point in upstate New York. The Academy could be a difficult place at times. The one time of day that we all looked forward to was the mail call in the afternoon.  It was the only time we’d receive messages from friends and family far away.

My roommate had a girlfriend back home who would send him letters and packages. His girlfriend also had a roommate and she and I started writing letters after she sent me one. She says she did it out of pity, I say she did it because she saw a picture of me and thought I was cute.

After graduating, I was stationed at several different forts across the country. One of them was Fort Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska, where I worked from 1993-98.

While working there was a good step in my career, Fort Richardson could be a lonely place. It was cold and remote and there weren’t many women around. We didn’t have email or Skype back then, so communication from the “outside world” was welcomed.

That same girl, the one who wrote me at West Point, was now my longtime girlfriend, and while her job kept her on airplanes flying around the world while I was in Alaska, letters again played an important part in our relationship during the early parts of my time there.

Now, she and I have been married for 22 years – and it all started with the mail. We still have those letters.

I don’t mean to say that every letter you send a soldier will end up in a long-term relationship, but I will say they do matter. It gives them a connection to home and things familiar when they are often in unfamiliar territory. And now, even though soldiers can Skype and email with family, physical letters and gifts are still special. There really is nothing like a written word in someone’s own handwriting.

If you can, drop a card or gift by one of the collection points listed in Southern Land’s “Send Some Love to the Troops” program. They even have information about how to donate online. It may seem small, but you never know how much a letter to a soldier can matter.