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Encouraging words

Group mails thousands of letters to soldiers

Large group of men and women in Army T-shirts and shorts hold letters
Trainees from the 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, pose with letters of encouragement written to them by members of the #NoTraineeLeftBehind Facebook group. Image: U.S. Army

A group of social media users is harnessing the power of mail to show their support for Army recruits in South Carolina.

The group, called #NoTraineeLeftBehind, is comprised of more than 500 Facebook users who have mailed an estimated 80,000 letters to soldiers undergoing basic training at Fort Jackson, an installation in Columbia.

Renae Reis, a Las Vegas resident, started the group last year after her son, Pfc. Tyler Reis, went through basic training at Fort Jackson.

“I realized I wasn’t quite ready for him to go,” said Reis, who wrote daily letters to her son, beginning two weeks before he departed for training.

The group now has members from around the world. Each member writes as many as 70 letters, using guidelines and templates provided on the #NoTraineeLeftBehind Facebook page.

In addition to “Army moms” like Reis, schools are getting involved. More than 8,000 elementary students sent letters to recruits for Valentine’s Day.

Ann Marie Smith, a #NoTraineeLeftBehind group administrator, said she has been “overwhelmed” by the responses from soldiers who received her letters.

One trainee wrote, “The day I received your letter, I was really starting to doubt if I was made for the Army. Your letter gave me the motivation to keep on pushing.”

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