March 4, 2011

Snail Mail Hasn’t Lost Its Power to Boost Troop Morale

From NYT By James Dao -
For nearly as long as there have been pen, parchment and wars, there has been military mail. Even in the Internet age, it remains a huge morale booster for troops. The mere possibility of some buried goodie in a box, or some special piece of news in a letter, still makes mail call a bit like Christmas, soldiers in the First Battalion, 87th Infantry in north Afghanistan say.

Even when care packages from home begin to feel routine, the same tube socks, underwear and candy bars every month, mail call presents a great opportunity for barter. (Who wants this “Spider-Man 3″ DVD for a pack of Marlboro menthols?) And in a close-knit platoon, the soldier who gets the most regular packages will often make them available to everyone in his tent, turning boxes into grab-bags of candies, paperback books and T-shirts. The most valued item, however, is often smokeless tobacco, which most infantrymen will hoard before trading.

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