Every winter, people across the country send cards and donations to military personnel and veterans in the hopes that they will bring them some holiday cheer.
But, as well-intentioned as it may be, some of these cards and donations probably won’t reach the right hands because of some outdated information that gets posted on the Internet every year during the holiday season.
One such flyer circulated each year encouraging people to send cards addressed to “any wounded soldier” to the old D.C. address of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Snopes reports. But the medical center stopped accepting such cards over 20 years ago and has been in Bethesda, Maryland for years.
“The U.S. Postal Service will not accept mail addressed to “any soldier,” “any wounded soldier,” or the like because if they did, it could serve as a conduit for those who might harm members of the armed forces,” Snopes reports. “These offers are either returned to the sender (if a return address is provided or if an address is found inside the package) or donated to charity (if a return address is not found).”
How to address holiday cards for soldiers and veterans
The American Red Cross Holidays for Heroes Program, formerly known as the Holiday Mail for Heroes Program, provides communities and people around the world with a way to honor service members and veterans with donations, including holiday cards.
In the Capital Region, the American Red Cross of the National Capital Region accepts donations for local service members and veterans.
Cards and donations can be mailed or delivered in person to the following address:
Attention: Holidays for heroes
American Red Cross for the National Capital and Greater Chesapeake Region
8550 Arlington Blvd.
Fairfax, Virginia 22031
Because of the influx of holiday cards, the Red Cross encourages the donation of holiday cards to your local Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility or State Veterans Home.
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center cannot accept donations in person or by mail. To ensure that donations are received and distributed properly, people should either mail or deliver donations to the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region.
What do you donate to veterans and members of the military
Walter Reed and the Red Cross recommend donating unopened/unwrapped toiletries, low-value restaurant and entertainment chain gift cards, individually wrapped snacks, and new items of clothing.
Donations are accepted throughout the year, and the public can go here for a full list of suggestions for what to donate.