Words of warmth for warriors

People all across the Capital District and nation took time to give thanks last month, but when it comes to thanking the group of servicemen and women who have made untold sacrifices for the country, it isn't always as easy as sitting down to turkey and pie.

Even for those who want to send a simple message to our troops, but don't have a specific recipient in mind, the task is difficult, as Homeland Security or military hospitals will return such correspondence. That's why the Clifton Park Center has partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project to send 1,000 holiday cards of thanks to wounded service members at places like Walter Reed and the Fort Hood Burn Center.

The mall put the cards out, free for anyone to sign, on Black Friday near the mall's Santa set. The response has been strong so far, with more than 700 cards signed in the first three days of the program.

People have said in the past, 'We try to send cards to Walter Reed, and Walter Reed sends them back,' said Jeff Townsend, director of marketing at Clifton Park Center. Sending the cards directly overseas would have had a similar result.

The office of Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport, pointed Townsend toward the Wounded Warrior project, which operates out of Jacksonville, Fla. Wounded Warrior maintains a database of soldiers in hospitals and will make sure the cards get to the appropriate place.

The WWP was started in 2002 by a group of veterans who saw a need to do more for the wounded coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, the program provides a variety of services, including giving care packages to wounded soldiers and providing support and events to help veterans deal with the stresses of returning home, whether they are physical or mental.

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