Phonecards for Soldiers

Are phone cards good gifts for U.S. soldiers?

Claim:   Phone cards are good gifts for U.S. soldiers.

Status:   Multiple:

  • Wounded soldiers undergoing treatment at Walter Reed are in desperate need of long distance phone cards:   False.

  • Wounded soldiers undergoing treatment at Walter Reed need lots of other small items you could be sending them:   False.
  • Soldiers serving abroad and stateside really appreciate the gift of long distance phone cards:   True.

  • Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

    Yellow ribbons tied around trees and red, white and blue stickers on the backs SUVs saying “Support our Troops” are things that make civilians feel good but do nothing for the men and women actually in uniform.

    So please consider the following:

    The number ONE request at Walter Reed hospital is phone cards. The government doesn’t pay long distance phone charges and these wounded soldiers are rationing their calls home.

    Many will be there throughout the holidays.

    Really support our troops — Send phone cards of any amount to:

    Medical Family Assistance Center
    Walter Reed Medical Center
    6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20307-5001

    They say they need an “endless” supply of these — any amount even $5 is greatly appreciated.

    Walmart has good prices on AT&T cards; Sams Club is even better, if you are a member. I pay less than three cents per minute there.

    I am sure you would feel better about doing this, than to buy something for a third cousin, that would find it on the closet shelf six months later, and wonder where it came from.

    Please pass this portion on, copy and paste it into your e-mail, and send to everyone you know.

    Origins:   This is yet another example of a request that got out of


    In early November 2004, a version of the solicitation quoted above began to be circulated on the Internet. Though at one time long distance calling cards might have been the “number ONE request” of soldiers lying wounded at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC, since the advent of the e-mail pleading for them, the Medical Family Assistance Center at that treatment center has received thousands of them, which amounts to far, far more than the patients recuperating there can use at the moment.

    We contacted the folks at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to inquire about the much-forwarded request for phone cards for injured soldiers. According to the harried young man who answered the phone, they ask those wishing to donate such items to hold off until March 2005 because they already have far more than they need. One of our readers who made a similar call days earlier was told they had been “well blessed” with phone cards and were having trouble using them before they expired.

    We next contacted the American Red Cross office at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to ask what they knew about the request for phone cards. The equally harried person there confirmed what Walter Reed had said — the facility had received thousands of such cards and was asking the public to please not send any more at this time. Our further inquiry as to what sorts of other things wounded soldiers recuperating there would like to receive was met with the news that the patients had everything they needed and the Red Cross was asking folks to please not send anything more at this time and to check back with them no earlier than January 2005 regarding further beneficences.

    Our mid-December 2004 findings about the state of donations at that facility were confirmed by 1 January 2005 Associated Press article.

    So many gifts for injured troops and their families have poured into Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and the National Naval Medical Center in nearby Bethesda, Md., that they have run out of space and are asking well-wishers to give elsewhere.

    Overwhelmed by thousands of items like CD and DVD players, quilts, toiletries, clothes and food – not to mention huge stacks of prepaid phone cards – Walter Reed this week urged people to wait until February or March to send items. An official at the naval hospital requested that contributions be postponed until March.


    In Bethesda, gifts fill an office and its back room, a classroom and a warehouse, said Marine Cpl. Adam Jensen-Withey, who works with the Marine Casualty Services Branch that handles donations and welcomes injured troops back stateside.

    At Walter Reed, Lee described a 40-by-60-foot storage room nearly filled to its 12-foot ceiling with gifts from across the country. Another office is filled with letters, many of them with phone cards.

    Both facilities are currently described as having “bins upon bins upon bins of phone cards.”

    The Red Cross office at Walter Reed still welcomes cash donations, but on the understanding that such funds can be used for the benefit of all soldiers, not just the ones being treated at Walter Reed. Those wishing to make such gifts are asked to mail their checks to: American Red Cross, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue NW, Building 2, 3rd Floor, Room 3E05, Washington, DC, 20307.

    Those of altruistic bent who still feel a need to do something for soldiers this holiday season should examine the variety of programs offered under the Stars and Stripes link listed below. That the wounded soldiers undergoing treatment at Walter Reed do not at this time need phone cards does not mean thousands of others who serve in the American armed forces wouldn’t greatly appreciate whatever benevolences the altruistic were moved to direct their way.

    Barbara “soldier buoyed” Mikkelson

    Additional information:

            Some Ways to Support Servicemembers   Some Ways To Support Servicemembers   (Stars and Stripes)

    Last updated:   1 January 2005


      Sources Sources:

        Nitschke, Lori.   “Nebraskans Open Hearts to Wounded Soldiers.”

        Omaha World-Herald.   9 September 2004   (p. B3).

        Wolfe, Elizabeth.   “Besieged by Generosity, Military Hospitals Asks Donors to Give Elsewhere.”

        Associated Press.   1 January 2005.

        Wood, David.   “Troops Have Humble Wishes.”

        [New Orleans] Times-Picayune.   12 December 2004   (National, p. 1).

        [Riverside] Press Enterprise.   “Operation Phone Home.”

        14 December 2004   (p. B8).