Books for Soldiers
March 18, 2005 1:19 PM   Subscribe

We all like getting mail and soldiers stationed far from home or recovering from war injuries in a veterans' hospital really like getting mail. So go through your bookcases and closets and dig out those books you don't read. Got duplicate copies of books or DVDs? What about recent magazines? The Books For Soldiers program sends "care packages for the mind"—books, DVDs and magazines for servicemen and women overseas and in hospitals at home. Just sign into the site, browse soldiers' book requests and send your package.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket (16 comments total)
I wonder if the Military keeps track of what is sent. I'm sure they wouldn't want Johnny Get Your Gun sent to someone in a military hospital. Item 6 on the guidelines suggests sending something that isn't demoralizing, but it's not outright restricted.
posted by johnjreiser at 1:37 PM on March 18, 2005

I think it'd be too hard to restrict without infringing on the privacy of the soldiers. What if it's porn? I guess they have a right to porn, but does their CO want it there? In any case, the links are good and the idea is as well. I'll check my bookcase..
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:40 PM on March 18, 2005

I wish you didn't have to send in a notarized form and $12 just to register far enough to actually send a book. I'm feeling patriotic, but I'm also incredibly lazy.
posted by goatdog at 1:48 PM on March 18, 2005

you can just bring books to your local VA hospital, goatdog--it doesn't have to be through this program.

All hospitals will take book donations, actually.
posted by amberglow at 2:25 PM on March 18, 2005

try well done site, by a veteran and friends. i did some stuff through, but some of the people running it threw a little hissy fit a while back when a well intentioned person posted info from the site at her church. they're doing good work but managed to alienate a fair number of people in the process. none of the paperwork, cost, etc., that bfs is requiring now.
posted by etaoin at 3:52 PM on March 18, 2005

Yes, try Any Soldier. I sent books for X-mas.
posted by infowar at 6:50 PM on March 18, 2005

well, my deal is mobile computing, and my specialty is video for handhelds, so i've provided a lot of soldiers from several countries with stuff to watch and read on their pocket pcs and palms. i kinda get a kick out of knowing that a bunch of people are gathered around watching a movie on a small screen, and since the files run between 50 and 150 megs, they can really get a lot of mileage out of a few compact flash or secure digital cards. plus most ebooks are 50 to 500k as well, so they can squeeze a few hundred on there to, so that's really excellent. given that most devices are about the size of a pack of smokes, and don't weigh that much, it's even easier than having a bunch of books to cart around, and the files will also work on laptops too.
posted by TrinityB5 at 7:39 PM on March 18, 2005

very cool, Trinity, but what about batteries/power? you send that too?
posted by amberglow at 7:48 PM on March 18, 2005

Nah. I think not. I think there's a whole bunch of people I'd be sending books to before I'd be sending them to soldiers. Especially soldiers in Iraq. See, I don't support the troops. Sorry, but there it is. Flame away. If you can be bothered.
posted by Decani at 7:55 PM on March 18, 2005

Thanks for pointing out the registration fee goatdog... sounds like somebody is getting a little too much "charity" going on there... probably some grant money eventually, then shiny new SUVs for the higher ups, spiffy office furniture, credit cards bar tabs and vacations, etc... well; I am a bastion of sarcasm for most "charities"....

The VA hospitals will welcome anything. Flowers, NRA magazines, time spent with patients... anything. And GI Joe (or Jane) anywhere would tear to get a proper hand written letter thanking them for their service.

Hate the people that caused the current mess; not those that have *no* choice but to respond as ordered. It is very difficult to skip out on the fellow service members that a person has trained with, ate with, slept with (sorry, needed a chuckle), and barracked with.
How can one just cry "I quit, toss me in jail" knowing that the "team" would be weakened in a potentially fatal manner by being short, or having an unfamiliar and inexperienced member be a replacement? It ain't that easy once the boots have been on for a while.

Not many generations ago our US armed forces saved the world. Twice. Trench warfare? How about 1917 and the USAEF arrives and busts that game up. Glad that Britain isn't a Nazi vacation island? Thank the merchant marines and the lend/lease program. Iwo Jima? Okinawa? The entire Pacific campaign? Wonder what a ground invasion of Japan would have been like?

The base soldier is much more educated and literate than the base civilian. And they *ALL* like games, books, mags, and toys. Some probably would not even mind some real dirt from home even. Smiles! :)
posted by buzzman at 8:07 PM on March 18, 2005

"No choice", buzzman? Somebody made them join up? Was there a draft I didn't hear about?

We probably don't want to get into this argument on this thread. I think I'll shut up.
posted by Decani at 8:17 PM on March 18, 2005

If you join the service, you have "no choice" but to respond as ordered. A great many military personnel want to quit but they won't let themselves.

I.E. with 150,000 people in Iraq doing their whatever every day, not many people would be comfortable deciding to go to jail instead of go to duty.

Write an angry letter. It would probably provide some barracks amusement to a certain extent. Just don't use your own return address.
posted by buzzman at 10:13 PM on March 18, 2005

If you send a book or some snacks or something useful, you may well be helping some kid enticed at 17 to use the military to "get an education."

A lot of these kids were suckered, some joined the Guard to help at home, some for a lot of other reasons, not expecting or wanting to get shipped, multiple times, to Iraq. Some simply fell for the lies of our Fearless Leader, just as much of the Congress did.

I think there may well be a point we'll not want to support the troops, especially as more Abu Ghraib-type outrages are revealed, but I can't that see a reason to penalize some naive kids who don't have sufficient lip balm or decent food or a book that might make him rethink their lives, because of the lies that put them there.
posted by etaoin at 4:33 AM on March 19, 2005

Amberglow, PDAs have their own batteries (usually lithium ion, these days), and the various armed forces do provide electrical power/outlets for their people as a matter of course for their daily lives. they even have internet cafes.
posted by TrinityB5 at 4:45 AM on March 19, 2005

I donate my books to the local jail or work release facility. It's kind of a pain in the ass hauling them there and watching the corrections officer go through them page by page for contraband, but the inmates are all quite grateful.

(Call ahead to your local jail and ask about the rules for donation because they vary from facility to facility.)
posted by leftcoastbob at 5:33 AM on March 19, 2005

I am going to stick with Any Soldier. I had done some research on Booksforsoldiers a few months ago and was not comfortable with them.

The "non-denominational church" behind Booksforsoldiers is the Order of the Red Grail which I believe is the same Order of the Red Grail Church of Transformational Wicca.

Someone else has already done the research and posted it to his blog. I find it creepy that the operator of Booksforsoldiers is not up front about his "non-denominational church" being a Wiccan church. And there is the $12 as goatdog pointed out.
posted by mlis at 8:04 AM on March 19, 2005

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