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I’ve gotten a couple of requests from people wanting to know how to contact soldiers. Manhattanville College in New York has a really good My Soldier Program that matches civilians and active duty soldiers for letter exchanges and support. Manhattanville is a college with a strong social justice bent and the program was developed by Iraq veterans in conjunction with students. It puts politics aside while letting U.S. troops know that people back home care. It was co-founded by Sgt. Juan Salas, a 23-year-old Manhattanville student who served 14 months in Iraq and is now back on campus. The letters Juan received meant so much to him that he wanted to generate thousands more for troops who are still deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
By enrolling in the My Soldier Program, you can “adopt” a soldier. Then you will receive guidelines about what kinds of things a soldier might like to receive, as well as a red “My Soldier” bracelet. More than 300,000 people have joined the My Soldier Program, volunteering to write to almost 150,000 soldiers. If you as an individual or your group are looking for a method of connecting with soldiers, I recommend Manhattanville’s My Soldier Program. Once you join, you can download a starter kit and off you go! (Additionally, if you know soldiers looking for letter exchanges with civilians, they also can sign up at the My Soldier Program.)
Additionally, though it’s difficult to write to Iraqis, there are a couple of blogs that can foster connection. Check out Raed in the Middle and Baghdad Burning. Let us know of other people-to-people connections with Iraqis.
Rose Marie Berger is an associate editor of Sojourners magazine.