Most charities facilitating military pen pals do not encourage a personal choice of the soldier involved, preferring instead that such choices be made internally. However, some writers may opt to choose a soldier based on the branch of service that matters most to them, such as Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard. Additionally, although an initial letter may be delivered randomly, writers can always opt to continue corresponding with an identified serviceman simply by retaining his contact information.
If the branch of service is important to the writer, the charity Any Soldier allows her to specify from among all five. In addition to letters, Any Soldier donors can send packages or make monetary donations in either specified or personally determined amounts. For instance, if the donor selects the Navy, the resulting package is marked "Attn: Any Sailor" and then given to a sailor who seems to receive little to no mail from friends or family.
Other charities, such as Soldiers' Angels, identify soldiers in need of emotional support and correspondence through Deployed Adoption Teams, which scour overseas areas for likely candidates. The basic requirement for participating in this charity is writing one letter a month, although some opt to write as many as 14 a week.