I’ve always had close to my heart the cause of American soldiers. Their sense of pride for their own country, their patriotism, their sacrifice for greater good. And I’ve always admired Americans for their will to support their own soldiers.
In fact, there are many American organizations supporting soldiers at the front, but also veterans and their families. One simple way to thank them for their service and not make them feel abandoned to their choices and their fate.
American soldiers express American greatness.
That is why I am proud to present you an exclusive interview with Forgotten Soldiers Outreach – a non-profit that send monthly packages to soldiers at the front, all to make them feel a little less alone and closer to home.
I thank very warmly Jeanelle Knecht for having spoken to me about the organization.
Question: Tell us about your organization. What you do, what is your goal and what inspires you to continue?
Answer: Forgotten Soldiers Outreach started in October of 2003. Lynelle, the Founder and Executive Director, was helping out a co-worker’s son and automatically Forgotten Soldiers Outreach grew. By January of 2004 we became a non profit (501c3) organization, tax exempt and state registered (Florida).
We started by sending packages to our locally based units and suddenly grew so very fast. We were just taking care of the local people that were deployed and then were taking care of everyone that was not receiving packages no matter what branch they were in or where in the states they were from. We specifically take care of those that receive little to no support from home. Either their family members cannot afford to purchase the items their loved ones need and pay for the postage, or they do not have someone back home that supports what they are doing, or they have no family at all. We receive their names and addresses from their family members, their Chaplains, their commanding officers or most of the time, themselves. Our goal is to make sure that they do not leave mail call with nothing.
Q: I have read on your website that, as most Americans, and even to me here in Italy and around the world, you are been touched by the 9/11 to create this project. According to you, how that day changed the will and the hearts of many Americans toward their soldiers?
A: When we first started sending packages, everyone was on board and wanting to help in any way possible. This means that people would donate the items to us to send overseas. They would also donate the funds to ship them. I think that as an American, our military personnel volunteer to be in the service and we support them for what they are doing.
Q: You also send to the soldiers printed letters of encouragement in the packages. This to me express so much love that is touching. Tell us why it is so important make them comfortable also around the world, away from home.
A: We do send letters in their packages. Letters are a morale booster for them. Imagine, you are receiving a package once a month, from people you do not know, and there are letters of encouragement in the box. It brings up their spirits and 9 times out of 10, these letters of encouragement are shared amongst them. This is something that is awesome for them and takes their mind off of what they do day in and day out.
Q: As Italian I am always been inspired by the pride in the hearts of many Americans towards their country, that then push them to serve. How would you like to explain this? Why Americans are so patriotic? I would like to hear this from a firsthand voice.
A: You know, just like anyone else in the world, we Americans love our country. We love what our country stands for. We take pride in our country. I think the reason why we are more “in your face” with our patriotism is because we are a young country. We have been raised on helping others and when we help others, we in turn are helping ourselves. I don’t think that it makes us any different from any other country… we are just loud and proud.
Q: What are your numbers of packages shipped monthly and year round?
A: Our monthly amount of packages going out fluctuates. This is due to the people redeploying back to the States and the others that are just going out on deployments.
Like this month for example, we are taking care of 950 people but we are sending out 460 packages. They are different sizes of packages because not only do we take care of individuals, we take care of units, battalions, squads, etc., where we send out moving sized boxes to cover the units.
Q: I suppose this is also a great way to unite and connect people in America, doing something for American soldiers away from home. What are your thoughts about it?
A: Yes, it is a great way to bring people together from all over the United States. We receive donation of items nationwide as well as funds and letters. We are not the only organization that takes care of our troops that are deployed overseas, there are many more organizations that do support as well. However, we are the only organization within our county that does what we do.
Q: Thinking about to the “grateful Americans”, why Americans should be grateful to their soldiers?
A: Americans should feel grateful to our soldiers for many reasons…
#1 Being our freedom. Our freedom to go to the mall, go to work, live with no one shooting at us all the time and feeling threatened at all.
#2 Is because our troops put their lives on the line every day. And as mentioned before, we support them for doing that. That takes a big person to go and fight for their country.
#3 They take care of people that are affected by national disasters, not only here in the states but also abroad.
We as Americans are giving people for the most part. We take care of others that need help. As a whole, without people helping other people, the world itself would be a very nasty place to live. I personally think that giving back to others is good for the soul.
Personal note by Jeanelle:
I come from a military family. Both of my grandparents served in the military, my dad was in the military, my ex-husband was in the military and my son was in the military. So obviously, I love what we do here at Forgotten Soldiers Outreach. I have been with the organization since 2008. It is an honor for someone like me to give to those that are less fortunate and have no support from home. When my son was deployed, he would always ask for stuff to give to the people he was with because they were not getting anything. As a mom, it would break my heart knowing that some of our men and women are not getting that support.
If you want to write a positive letter, an encouragement to American soldiers, who will then be sent with the packages, this is the link. Thank you.