If you read Bull Rider (or if you haven’t) I’m hoping you are thinking about the sacrifices that not only our military men and women make, but the ways that their service and deployment affects families and communities. The Middle East wars have been going for a long time and I personally know of service men who’ve been deployed four times. In talking to students across the country I’ve heard the stories of how the war has changed their families. Sometimes it’s easy to think life goes on as usual, but this is not the case for everyone. Let’s let the men and women who are serving our country, and their families, know that we remember and appreciate them.

  • Contact Our Troops
  • Support our Troops
  • Traumatic Brain Injury Resources
  • More Books on the Military Experience

Here are a some websites with instructions for sending emails and letters to our service men and women (each opens in a new tab or windowOpen in a New Window) -

1. America Supports You:

America Suports You Banner
(Click on the image to see the America Supports You site to fill out their online e-mail form.
Be sure to just use only your first name and city, state if you are under 18. )

2. Holiday Mail for Heroes:

Holiday Mail for Heros
(Click on the image to see the Holiday Mail for Heroes site, sponsored by the
American Red Cross. Beginning in 2014, the program will take on a different look, as Red Cross
chapters across the continental U.S. and Red Cross offices on military installations overseas
will take complete control of the program. There will no longer be a national Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box to which cards are sent. Moving forward, local Red Cross offices will collect, sort, and distribute
the holiday cards using an events-based approach in their local communities. Please contact your local
Red Cross office to learn how to get involved. Our veterans would love to hear from you this holiday.)

To send a letter by regular mail, write your letter and mail to:

A Million Thanks
17853 Santiago Blvd. #107-355
Villa Park, CA 92861

  • Address the letter to "Dear Soldier," if you are writing to an unknown serviceman, and allow the distribution center to locate a soldier who hasn't received mail.

  • Write a positive letter, showing your support for the soldiers who are putting their lives at risk. Perhaps tell the soldier something about yourself, but nothing too personal. Focus the letter on your appreciation for what the soldier is doing and on general topics that would likely be of interest. Perhaps write about sports or current events. Write in a conversational tone. as if you were writing to an old friend.

  • Include your email address in the letter if you would like to hear back from the soldier. Many soldiers will respond in that manner. Include your address in the letter as envelopes tend to be tossed in the trash. (If you are under eighteen or sending from a classroom I would suggest including a school e-mail only!)

Any Soldier Banner

Community groups, churches, etc. may want a more ongoing relationship with someone in our armed forces. Click on the image above to check out Any Soldier.com where you can choose a group of deployed military to receive care packages and/or letters.

(each opens in a new tab or windowOpen in a New Window)

1. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans or America Banner
(Click on the image to see the IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN VETERANS of AMERICA
listing of resources on their Troops' Charities page.)

2. Fisher House

Fisher House Banner
(Click on the image to see the Fisher House site. Fisher Houses provide lodging for families
of injured troops and veterans close to veteran and military hospitals.)

3. USO

USO Banner
(Click on the image to see the USO site. USO is a nonprofit, congressionally chartered, private
organization. It has many different programs and activities that support our troops.

Many of our troops return home with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Here are a few places to look for resources and information about TBI and how you can help our injured troops:
(each opens in a new tab or windowOpen in a New Window)

1. Brainline.org

Brainline Learning World Banner
(Click on the image to see the brainline.org site for information on
preventing, treating and living with traumatic brain injury.)

2. Brainline Military

Brainline Military Banner
(Click on the image to see the brainlinemilitary.org site for more information about living with
traumatic brain injuries for service members, veterans and their families)

3. Traumatic Brain Injury: The Journey Home

The Journey Home Banner
(Click on the image to see the Traumatic Brain Injury: The Journey Home website. This site provides an informative and sensitive exploration of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), including information for patients, family members, and caregivers.)

4. Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Cneter Banner
(Click on the image to see the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center website. Their mission is to serve active duty
military, their beneficiaries, and veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) through state-of-the-art clinical care.

5. The Real Warriors

The Real Warrios Banner
(Click on the image to see the Real Warriors website. This campaign promotes the processes of building resilience,
facilitating recovery and supporting reintegration of returning service members, veterans and their families.)

6. ReMIND.org - The Bob Woodruff Foundation

ReMIND.org Banner
(Click on the image to see the ReMIND.org site. ReMIND.org educates the public about the needs of injured service members, veterans and their families as they reintegrate into their communities and empowers people everywhere to take action.)

Here are some books I recommend that speak to the experience of war...

Operation Yes Bookcover
Operation Yes, by Sara Lewis Holmes, Scholastic, 2009. I loved this book because, after reading about life on a military base and moving and a mom deployed to Iraq, I ended up feeling like kids have real power over parts of their lives. That they can, with a good plan and a good attitude, impact the world in glorious ways. After reading Operation Yes I imagined kids all over the world posting little green men. (Middle Grade)
Heart of a Shepherd Bookcover
Heart of a Shepherd, by Rosanne Perry, Random House, 2009. A quiet gem about the impact of war on one ranch kid, his family, and his community when almost all the adult men in his small Oregon town are called up to the reserves. It speaks as much to family, faith, and finding one's place in the world as it does to war. But if you imagine the wars in the Middle East are far away and are only reminded of them when you see a clip on the news, you need to read this book. (Middle Grade)
Purple Hear Bookcover
Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick, Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins, 2009. A not so quiet step into the life of a nineteen year old serviceman in Iraq. He has suffered a traumatic brain injury and has lost his memory of an encounter with the enemy which may change his life. A page turner that reads honestly and is enhanced with sensitive details. (Young Adult)
Bull Rider Bookcover
Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams, Margaret K. McElderry/Simon and Schuster, 2009. Well this is mine so I’ll be short. It’s about a Nevada ranch kid whose older brother suffers a traumatic brain injury and loses an arm in the Iraq War. It’s the story of the brothers – and how they cope with the changes war brings to their lives. (Tween)
Three Cups of Tea Bookcover
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, Penguin Books, 2007. This best seller doesn't need my recommendation but it's a book I give to friends. A look at one man's experience creating and building schools in what was to become a war zone on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. There is a "young readers edition" from Turtleback. (nonfiction, Adult/Young Adult)
100 Days 99 Nights Book Cover 100 Days and 99 Nights by Alan Madison, Hatchett Book Group, 2008. This is a a sweet story about a girl waiting for her father to come back from deployment. For youngest chapter book readers – 2nd and 3rd grade. There are pancakes and a stuffed animal alphabet. A light book that still affirms the experience of kids with deployed parents.
Nubs - The Truse Story of a Mutt a Marine and a Miracle Book Cover Nubs – The True Story of a Mutt a Marine and a Miracle by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson, and Mary Nethery, Little, Brown and Company, 2009. I loved this story of a dog who is rescued from the war zone in Iraq by his marine buddy and kids who donated to bring him to America. A great read for ages six/seven and up about how war affects everyone – even animals.
Ghosts of War Book Cover Ghosts of War by Ryan Smithson, Collins/Harper Collins, 2009. This book offers a glimpse into the day to day experience of one GI’s time in Iraq. If you want to know some of the stuff people don’t talk about, to learn about the emotions a soldier goes through, read this book. I came away feeling like I’d learned so much. Loved the author’s testament to the healing power of writing. (nonfiction/YA)
Sunrise Over Fallujah Book Cover Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers, Scholastic, 2008. Written by an award winning author, Sunrise Over Fallujah is a sequel of sorts to Meyer’s book Fallen Angels. Robin “Birdy” Parry joins the army and is sent to Iraq where he learns war is not what he expected. Meyers paints a clear picture of the realities of death and sacrifice the confusion of sorting out supporters from enemies, the closeness of buddies who’ve had the same, inexplicable experiences. Read it with Purple Heart and Ghosts of War and you’ll see some interesting themes. (YA)
Mare's War Book Cover Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. Mare’s War is a historical novel about African American Women who served in the WACs during World War II. It speaks not only to military life and commitment but to the racial segregation of the day and its daily effects on the young women serving our country. An interesting book with strong characters and a memorable female protagonist. (YA/tween)
Trouble Book Cover Trouble by Gary Schmidt, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008. Not a war story as such, but a coming of age novel about the after effects of the Viet Nam war and how prejudice against Cambodian immigrants entangled one family’s struggle with grief, social expectations, and finding the truth. (YA/tween)
Home of the Brave Book Cover Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate, Feiwel and Friends, 2007. A book written in clear verse about the fallout of war – this time the war in Somalia – and one refugee boy’s journey to resettle in Minneapolis, to come to terms with his mother’s disappearance in that war, and to save a well worn cow who had, in some way already saved him. (MG/tween)

These are on my nightstand that I haven’t finished yet:

  • War Is, Soldiers, Survivors, and Storytellers Talk About War, edited by Mard Aronson and Patty Campbell, Candlewick Press,2008 (Nonfiction, Young Adult/Adult)

Books Before Iraq and Afghanistan:

  • Diary of a Young Girl by Ann Frank (Nonfiction Young Adult)
  • Red Badge of Courage by Stephan Crane (Young Adult/Adult)
  • The Sun Also Rises by Earnest Hemmingway (Young Adult/Adult)
  • Tistou of the Green Thumbs by Maurice Druon (Middle Grade)