Adopt A US Soldier is a volunteer-based organization that provides support to American soldiers deployed worldwide by enabling Americans to extend strength and gratitude by mailing them letters and gifts. The not-for-profit program provides guidelines on what items may or may not be shipped as gifts to the troops. Anyone can subscribe to this program through their website and get assigned to a soldier within 3-5 days with whom a correspondence can be established. The program has served as a successful channel of support and encouragement for our soldiers with over 235,000 supporters in 76 countries around the world. The site also features many touching responses received by the program-supporters from the troops.
It is heartening to see people reaching out to the soldiers. I am proud to have participated in efforts to reach out to our troops through another program for soldiers. As a volunteer of the ‘Art of Living’ foundation which was founded to promote peace and well-being through social service, value-based education, meditation and yoga, I worked with their service organization ‘International Association for Human Values (IAHV)’ in Washington DC in 2007.
IAHV strives to provide trauma therapy for disaster/war victims, poverty alleviation, healthcare, etc. One of their projects, ‘Welcome Home Troops,’ involves providing trauma relief for returning war veterans through Yoga, meditation and social support to help them transition into civilian life.
Our focus was on efforts to rebuild the lives of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq while they were being treated at the Bethesda Naval Hospital and the Walter Reed facility. We decided to build a library of books and DVDs for their use during their rehabilitation. So we organized a collection-drive in our local community, requesting people to donate used/new books and DVDs suitable for 20-30 years old soldiers. As many soldiers suffered from severe emotional trauma, we specifically sought content that was humorous, heroic, positive and uplifting and did not portray graphic violence and excessive fear.
We started by placing fliers and collection boxes in the local stores, gyms and community center. We got a lot of support from the local stores, restaurants, schools and companies. We managed to collect over 400 DVDs and 500 books within just weeks of starting our program. And soon we set up a library for the recouping soldiers to use.
What was more encouraging than the number of books and DVDs we collected was that people in our community became more aware of the support our soldiers needed through the program. While some started helping us out in our efforts, many woke up to other similar organizations and offered much needed help.
We were delighted to do our best and found it to be a deeply gratifying experience.