‘Tis the season for season’s greetings, and many of you might be preparing to spread cheer by mailing Christmas cards.
VERIFY viewer Kathy texted us about a meme she saw on Facebook that called for people to mail Christmas cards to U.S. troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The text says: “When filling out your Christmas cards this year, take one card and send it to this address: A Recovering American Soldier, c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20307-5001. If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these wonderful, selfless people, who have sacrificed so much would get. Please copy and post on your wall.”
Can you mail a Christmas card to an unnamed “recovering American soldier,” as meme claims?
No, you can’t send Christmas cards to an unnamed “recovering American soldier,” as a viral meme claims.
WHAT WE FOUND
A person can’t just send a Christmas card, or any other form of mail, to any service member without a name and address, the United States Postal Service (USPS) says.
The viral posts circulating on Facebook are known as copypasta memes. Copypasta is internet slang for a block of text that gets copied and pasted repeatedly. This particular meme has been online for years and contains outdated information.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, rules about sending mail to service members changed, according to the USPS.
“Mail addressed as ‘Any Service Member,’ ‘Any Soldier, Sailor, etc.’ will not be accepted,” the USPS says. “If this mail is deposited into a collection box it will be returned to sender. Items without return addresses are opened in our Mail Recovery Center Network to determine the sender’s address. If it is impossible to determine the sender’s address, we donate care items to local charities.”
The address listed in the meme is also not accurate. While there are some offices associated with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center listed at that address in Washington, D.C., the actual medical center where patients are recuperating moved to Maryland in 2011 after merging with the National Naval Medical Center
Military OneSource, a website created by the U.S. Department of Defense that provides information on how to support the military community, has a guide on what you need to know about sending military care packages.
Since you can’t send a holiday card to a random soldier, here are some other resources you can consider if you want to support the troops this holiday season:
- Contact your local Red Cross office about their Holiday for Heroes program
- Military Missions, Inc., includes cards each year in care packages sent to troops
- The Holiday Card Challenge is another group that includes cards or invites people to sponsor a care package
- The United Soldiers and Sailors of America (USASOA) also launches a card-sending campaign each year
- United Service Organizations, Inc. (USO) also has a list of ways to support troops during the holidays
- Here is a list of ways to help or support veterans during the holiday season