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‘It would mean a lot’: Canadian Armed Forces asks residents to send holiday greetings to troops

WATCH: The Canadian Armed Forces have asked residents through Twitter to write military personnel who will be away from their family during the holiday season. Crystal Goomansingh explains.

As the holiday season approaches, the Canadian Armed Forces are asking residents to write personnel who are going to be away from family in the coming weeks.

The friendly request was shared on the Canadian Armed Forces in the United States Twitter account earlier this week.

“Many of us will spend the holidays with our families. Many of us will not,” the message said before sharing the Canadian Armed Forces mailing address.

“It would mean a lot if you did.”

437 Squadron returns from Iraq and Syria operation
437 Squadron returns from Iraq and Syria operation

Sgt. Michael Hemmingsen, from Trenton, Ont., is a postmaster assigned to Operation Impact, which is the international coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He told Global News on Friday that serving over the holidays can be tough for some, especially for newer members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

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“It’s just nice when people are thinking about you … for a lot of these people it’s their first tours away,” Hemmingsen said, adding having something “tangible” to display is welcomed.

“It’s so easy to just call someone, text or Facetime — it’s the press of a button.

“To take a card, there’s a little leg work. It means more, in my opinion.”

READ MORE: CFB Trenton 437 Squadron involvement in Operation Impact now complete

He said letters from children thanking military members for their service are particularly meaningful.

“Pictures or fun little drawings with pictures — any well wishes are always welcomed,” Hemmingsen said.

When it comes to letters this year, Hemmingsen said some personnel have already begun receiving correspondence — and not just from Canadians. He said cards have come from the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

READ MORE: Canadian Letters and Images Project captures first-person history of veterans

In a statement issued through a Canadian Armed Forces spokesperson, Master Warrant Officer Jacques Ouellette — who is in charge of postal operations at the Canadian Joint Operations Command — reiterated how meaningful correspondence can be to serving military members.

“In the morning, I would walk into the cafeteria to get breakfast, and everybody would stop eating and stare at me with lit-up eyes, hoping they would be the lucky ones to get a letter or a small package. For the soldiers, mail was almost as important as food,” he said.

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“You have no idea how much a simple letter or a package covered with their kids’ drawings can boost their morale. It keeps them going.”

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Ouellette noted letters sent to “any Canadian Armed Forces member” are split between operations based on the number of personnel deployed. Overall, he said, there are approximately 40,000 letters sent every year.

Currently there are around 2,100 Forces members deployed overseas.

A Canadian Armed Forces spokesperson told Global News the website outlining the “write to the troops” program and deployments across the world was launched in 2001.

READ MORE: Gladys Osmond, who wrote thousands of letters to soldiers, mourned

For those who want to send a card or a letter, Canadian Armed Forces guidelines require cards to be sent with a stamp if it’s going to “any Canadian Armed Forces member.” The item being mailed can’t contain anything other than correspondence.

In order for letters and cards to be received by Forces members overseas by Christmas, the correspondence must be in Trenton before Dec. 9.

Here is the address provided by the Canadian Armed Forces to send a card or a letter to military personnel:

Any Canadian Armed Forces Member
P.O. Box 5004 Stn Forces
Belleville, Ont.
K8N 5W6

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Click here for a full list of overseas operations if you’re looking to send correspondence to a military member assigned to a particular operation.