Human Relations Department
Support Our Troops!
Supporting Our Troops and Our Veterans
Thousands of U.S. troops have been deployed around the world in the fight against terrorism. They serve in dangerous conditions, away from the comforts of home that we often take for granted. More than 4,000 U.S. troops have been killed in action in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 30,000 have been wounded, more than half of whom are so severely injured that their lives have been changed forever. Lack of proper medical care and limited employment opportunities cause many to struggle after they are discharged. Every year more than one million veterans are homeless. We owe each of these courageous men and women a lifetime of gratitude.
Unfortunately, heightened security prevents individuals from sending letters of appreciation and care packages to “Any Service Member” on their own, and the circumstances of underserved and homeless veterans makes them difficult to reach.
With this in mind, the APWU Human Relations Department provides support to active members of the military, wounded troops, and veterans. In addition to participating in existing programs, we have also developed several APWU programs for members to demonstrate their gratitude. However, these APWU programs are only possible through the continuing generosity and ongoing good will of our members.
Appreciation for our nation's veterans can be expressed by participating in one of the many APWU Support Our Troops and veterans programs throughout the year. Our collective participation in these programs will serve as a reminder that the sacrifices of these brave men and women have not been forgotten.
Supporting the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team is the latest endeavor for the APWU Human Relations Department. APWU locals and state organizations are being called upon to host a breakfast and rally our members to cheer for this remarkable team of champions when they come to your area to play ball.
We first learned of the team from a news report about the Wounded Warriors, who had handily defeated an FBI team by a football-like margin of 35-10.
The game was impressive. These guys aren’t just good ball players, they are inspiring. Watching them field, bat, and run with only one arm or with two artificial legs, you can’t help feeling consumed with pride.
The team is comprised of young, competitive, athletic veterans and active-duty soldiers and Marines who have lost limbs while serving our nation. They haven’t let their injuries stop them from being productive and enjoying life. Some are still in the service; others are attending college, thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, while others have moved on to new careers. Their mission is to raise awareness of the sacrifices and resilience of our military, and to highlight the human ability to rise above any challenge. They are determined to show other amputees and the general population that life without a limb is limitless.
When APWU contacted the team’s general manager to discuss supporting their mission, we learned the players would definitely appreciate having a cheering section of postal workers at their games. We also learned their hectic game schedules often require the team to grab a quick bite for lunch and dinner — so they really enjoy having a big breakfast together when they get the chance. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen very often, because meals aren’t generally sponsored when the team is on the road. With that the Breakfast for Champions was born!
Since its inception in May 2011, APWU locals have seized the opportunity to be involved. Thus far, the team has joined representatives from the Louisville Local, Oklahoma City Area Local, Panama City Local, Champagne Area Local, and the Nation’s Capital-Southern Maryland Area Local for breakfast. Locals that coordinate the attendance of APWU spectators are sent an APWU Supports Our Troops banner to ensure we are visible to the crowd and the media during the game. Costs for the breakfasts are minimal, and a day at a ballgame is fun. Not only does this event give us an opportunity to say “thank you,” our participation at the ballpark offers union members, family and friends a chance to engage in a union activity they can relate to — something they might not do otherwise. Additionally, our involvement demonstrates to the public that unions aren’t self-serving entities; rather we are a vital part of every community. We hope you will join us in welcoming our troops when they arrive in a town near you.
The possibility of hosting an APWU vs. Wounded Warriors softball game is being explored for the 2012 National Convention. APWU members who are good ball players and likely delegates that are interested in playing should provide the Human Relations Department with your name, local, contact information, ball experience and position(s) played.
To learn more contact the department by phone at (202) 842-4271. [back to top]
Care packages provide warm messages and familiarities from home. Packages are sent to servicemen and women serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recipients include members of all branches of the military, from everywhere in the US. We also forward care packages to APWU members or their loved ones who have been deployed overseas — we have their military mailing address. Additionally we deliver your packages to severely injured service members who have returned stateside but require a long-term stay in a medical facility in order to undergo rehabilitation and physical therapy.
To comply with the law and security measures it is important to follow the “Wish List” procedures. Care packages will be opened and inspected before they are forwarded. Please mark your package clearly if it is intended to be gender specific. Packages are accepted year-round. [back to top]
You can download and print the APWU Supports Our Troops postcard [PDF] to accompany your care package. For security reasons, personal messages cannot be enclosed in an envelope or sealed in any way. Messages that contain negative remarks will not be forwarded.[back to top]
It isn’t easy to get Santa to leave the North Pole, but he has graciously walked the halls at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center with the APWU to spread holiday cheer. We make room-to-room visits, delivering gifts to the wounded troops, and taking “Santa and Me” photos. Hospital staff members have said, “It is amazing to see even the most severely wounded light up when Jolly Old Saint Nick enters the room.” Members' gifts and monetary donations make it all possible. All donations and gifts should be sent by December 1. [back to top]
During our visits to medical facilities we have met many family members — mostly young wives, but also husbands, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and children who are there to stand vigil and to provide support while their loved one endures his or her struggles.
We have witnessed the toll that the waiting takes on the families.
Family members hope never to be in these circumstances, yet find they
are grateful for life. You can see the strain on their faces and hear
the pain in their voices. Their sacrifices are also great. When we say
we "support our troops" that means we support their families, too. The
APWU Human Relations Department makes every effort to include visiting
family members in our programs.
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Gratitude Dinners provide a much needed, much deserved night out for severely injured troops recovering at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, National Naval Medical Center, the Fisher House, and the Mologne House. The dinners provide these courageous men and women with an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company away from the confines of the hospital, where some will remain for over a year. The outings play a significant role in their recovery and rehabilitation. For the family members who are standing vigil, the dinners provide a chance to relax a bit, allowing them to recharge as care givers.
The dinners are hosted on Friday night at various restaurants in Washington, DC through the Aleethia Foundation. Approximately 60 wounded soldiers usually attend.
The dinners include a cocktail hour, a full-course dinner, dessert, a reception and an open bar. To add to the festivities, APWU often presents token gift bags to each of the attending troops and provides some great give-away items to serve as door prizes for the troops.
The cost to host a dinner averages between $3600 and $4500. If you would like to show your appreciation, make your donation payable to APWU Gratitude Dinners. We generally accumulate donations throughout the year in order to host these dinners. However, APWU organizations are invited to host their own dinners. (Special thanks to APWU Vermont State and locals for hosting their own Gratitude Dinner.) [back to top]
The APWU Troop Appreciation Barbeque has become an annual tradition at the Mologne House. APWU members staff a "moon bounce" and operate carnival games for children who are visiting family members at the rehabilitation facility. They serve refreshing water-ice, carve a 100-pound roasted pig, and pass out steak and chicken dinners grilled on-site by Outback Steakhouse to over 300 wounded troops and their families. Entertainment includes face painting and clowns, and our last event included a performance by the U.S. Army Field Band.
Thanks to the generosity of our members we have been able to create-your-own care package stations where troops select items they need. We have also given away significant door prizes, donated toys and DVDs to the Mologne House. Many thanks to the U.S. Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors for performing and for the selfless sacrifices they have made in serving our country. Thanks also to Outback Steakhouse for supplying their delicious food and wonderful staff free of charge. These barbecues generally occur on Memorial Day weekend. All donations and gifts must be received by April 29. [back to top]
$10 gift cards to McDonald’s, Burger King, Church’s Chicken, Cinnabon, Nathan’s Famous, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Subway and Taco Bell are an affordable way to say thank you to our hospitalized troops, as well as those returning from deployment to Afghanistan or other support theaters abroad, where it’s impossible to indulge in most American fast-food favorites. Often returning U.S. Service members are on limited funds. Your gift card makes it possible for them to bite into a taste of home as soon as they are stateside. The food-chains we listed are often located in or near a military hospital. Gift cards to these eateries offer the perfect solution for our wounded warriors looking for a reprieve from hospital food and additionally provide relief to visiting families who may find enjoying a restaurant meal both costly and time consuming. Hospital staff are often willing to pick-up orders for recovering troops and their car-less visitors. [back to top]
There is probably nothing harder for a small child than being separated from a parent or someone they care about, and there is nothing as comforting as a soft, cuddly teddy bear. Children of U.S. troops make a significant sacrifice that too often is not acknowledged. Let them know you understand and care by donating a new stuffed animal or toy.
Teddy Care donations will be distributed at military family centers before a deployment or when children visit their loved ones at a military medical facility. Each “teddy bear” will be presented with an APWU “Certificate of Appreciation" [PDF] for being brave and helpful while the person they love is serving in the line of duty.
Operation Teddy Care is a great way to show our appreciation throughout the year. Teddy Care has also been incorporated into our APWU Appreciation Barbeques, Operation Valentine, and Welcome Home Hero programs. [back to top]
Being confined to a hospital or residing at one of the military housing facilities without the ability to drive makes it difficult to shop for a sweetheart or child’s valentine. Armed with stuffed toys from Operation Teddy Care and Valentine Day cards, APWU visits the wounded troops and permits them to select valentines for their loved ones. We carefully label each selection before returning to our mailroom to send messages and gifts from Cupid. It seems the troops are even more thrilled to send gifts than they are to receive them, and they have embraced this program with much enthusiasm and appreciation. Operation Valentine takes place during the first week in February. Gifts and donations must be received no later than January 21. [back to top]
This event, hosted by the Veterans’ Administration, introduces recently discharged troops to available VA benefits, health services and employment counseling. In addition to informational services, refreshments, and entertainment are provided for the new veterans and their families.
APWU participates in this event on two levels: We solicit USPS support to provide informational handouts regarding its employment opportunities for veterans, and we host a moon bounce and a tent of carnival games with prizes for the children. Welcome Home Hero events generally occur in early June. Donations and gifts must be received by May 15th. [back to top]
Each year more than 1 million of our nation’s veterans are homeless. This is hardly the thank-you they deserve and hardly the thank-you they have earned. So, this January, the APWU plans to give a hand up to homeless and under served veterans during the Veterans’ Administration’s Winterhaven Stand Down.
The annual event offers veterans in need a variety of social services, such as legal and medical aid, employment counseling and housing assistance. Hot meals, haircuts, showers, warm clothing and other necessities will also be available. The APWU will have its own station at the Stand Down, where we plan to distribute information regarding USPS employment opportunities and backpacks filled with items to help these veterans get through their long days and cold nights. We need to be able to distribute a minimum of 250 filled back packs. We hope you will help. Filled backpacks must be received by January 15. [back to top]
For the past several years, APWU members have come together to participate
in Ride for Freedom, an annual rally in Washington, DC to raise awareness
about veteran and POW-MIA issues. Come ride with us or watch from the
sidelines as we join more than 300,000 riders on the Sunday during Memorial
Day weekend. (Check back for details about this year's rally.)
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These shirts pay tribute to our APWU-family members who have been killed in action. To our knowledge, 17 members of the APWU family have paid the ultimate price while fighting in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Our APWU “Freedom Isn’t Free” eagle marks the front of the T-shirt and the names of our fallen are listed on the back in “Final Formation.” T-shirts are American union-made, run true to size, and are 100 percent cotton. They are available in adult sizes, small — 5XL, and can be ordered [PDF] in short sleeve or sleeveless, for $20 each, which includes shipping. Limited quantities are currently available through the Human Relations Department. Net proceeds go entirely to our “Support” programs. [back to top]
In addition to approved general treasury donations, many APWU organizations have also taken the initiative to host fundraising events to support APWU Support Our Troops programs. Such events have included auctions, picnics and barbeques, golf and bowling tournaments, collections, and baked goods and t-shirt sales. All help to raise additional funds and all are a great way to involve members in union activities. Let us know about your events, and please share your digital photos with us. [back to top]
All monetary donations should be made payable to APWU (Supports Our Troops and Veterans) — indicate in the memo on your check or money order which Support Our Troops program you are contributing to. Donations received that do not identify a specific program will be used at the discretion of the APWU Human Relations Department Director.
Donors' names and contact information will be provided to gift recipients unless the donor wishes to remain anonymous.
If you wish to make a non-monetary gift, please note that Department of Defense and hospital regulations require that all donated items must be new.
All donated items, monetary contributions, information and photos should be sent to:
If you have questions, please contact the APWU Human Relations Department at 202-842-4271.