How do I contact a soldier?

The Dept. of Defense is responding to queries from thousands of Americans who are again asking what they can do to show their support for service members, especially those serving overseas in this time of war?

The following are websites for several organizations sponsoring programs for members of the Armed Forces overseas. While it would be inappropriate for DoD to endorse any specifically, service members do value and appreciate such expressions of support:

DoD officials ask citizens not to flood the military mail system with letters, cards, and gifts. Due to security concerns and transportation constraints, the Defense Department can't accept items to be mailed.

Some people have tried to avoid this prohibition by sending large numbers of packages to an individual service member's overseas address, which however well intentioned, clogs the mail and causes unnecessary delays.

U.S. troops deployed to the Persian Gulf region and other overseas locations can now receive personal messages from family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues and supporters via the pages of "Stars and Stripes" as well.

"Messages of Support," a daily section that debuted March 17, gives family and friends of deployed service members a chance to pass their greetings, words of encouragement and announcements free of charge.

"In the past few weeks, we've received a significant number of e-mail messages from spouses, parents, friends and others trying to get in contact with their loved ones serving in the Persian Gulf region. Running messages from folks on the home front seemed like a natural extension of our mission," said "Stars and Stripes" publisher Thomas Kelsch.

"Messages of Support" can be e-mailed to "Stars and Stripes" 24 hours a day at, are limited to 50 words or less and will be printed on a first-come, first-run basis. "Stars and Stripes" reserves the right to screen and edit all messages and to omit any determined inappropriate.

"Stars and Stripes" is the editorially independent, Defense Department-authorized daily newspaper distributed overseas for the U.S. military community. It provides commercially available U.S. and world news and objective, staff-produced stories relevant to the military community in a balanced, fair and accurate manner. Stripes is currently increasing its Middle East circulation with the goal of providing one paper for every three persons stationed there.

How do I find Records for a friend/relative who was in the Army?

Contact the National Personnel Records Center at:

National Personnel Records (Civilian)
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, Missouri 63138
National Personnel Records (Military)
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, Missouri 63138
Status Check: Check the Status of a Military Service Records Request

Phone: (314) 801-0800

At minimum, please include the service member's complete name, social security number and/or serial number, and the requester's return address. Website is:

How do I join the Army?

Thank you for your interest in joining the United States Army. I trust you will find it to be an exciting and rewarding career prospect. If you are interested in the current activities of the army, let me encourage you to check out the Army's website at Our website at is an excellent place to find out about basic training, read the profiles of real soldiers, and even visit a chat room to talk with Army personnel.

I am interested in finding out about the missions and personnel in the Department of Defense. Where can I get that information?

The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country. The Department of Defense is a Cabinet-level organization. Reporting to DoD are the three military departments (Army, Navy and Air Force) and 14 defense agencies. The four armed services are subordinate to their military departments. The Marine Corps is a second armed service in the Department of the Navy. The military departments are responsible for recruiting, training and equipping their forces, but operational control of those forces is assigned to one of the unified combatant commands. For more information, refer to the Defense Almanac website at: For more information about the Army, refer to the Army Homepage at:

I am interested in the background and history of an Army unit. How do I get this information?