WASHINGTON: The Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA), a division
of the Department of Defense, has requested that syndicated writer Dear
Abby suspend the annual "Operation Dear Abby" campaign that asks readers
of the popular advice column to send letters of support to military
personnel over the holiday season.
DoD spokesman Glenn Flood said the letter-writing effort presented both
"logistical and security" problems in light of the increasing anthrax
scares and the deployment of military troops abroad. He added that a
final decision has not yet been made on whether the initiative will be
reinstated. In the short term, alternative ideas such as an e-mail-based
campaign are being considered.
Jeanne Phillips, who co-writes the Dear Abby column with her mother
Pauline, quickly complied with the MPSA's request. "As important as
emotional support for our men and women in the military may be," said
the younger Phillips, "their physical well-being is far more
Phillips is asking readers to instead donate to local food banks.
This would have been the letter-writing campaign's 17th year, having
begun during the Vietnam War. Last year, the project collected more than
11,000 pounds of letters, with "millions" of people writing in,
according to Kathie Kerr, spokeswoman for Dear Abby publisher Universal
Also suspended is the military's "Any Servicemember" letter campaign,
which allows the general public to send mail to random military
personnel. The letters primarily reach those serving in Bosnia.