One of most significant benefits pen pals provide soldiers is an expanded network of social support. While many soldiers serving at home or abroad have family and friends to correspond with, there are also a great many who do not. Regular letters from pen pals help fill this void.
Many soldiers who lack strong social or familial networks come from difficult life situations or past environments. As such, a great number of these individuals regard the armed forces as a place where they can make a new start. Pen pals give these soldiers a chance to tell their stories and create new networks capable of helping them transition through the changes and challenges of military life.
When soldiers encounter the stress and brutality of combat in an overseas deployment, they may turn to pen pals to help them cope with traumatic circumstances or loss. Civilian pen pals might also demonstrate to combat soldiers how appreciated their work and sacrifices are by the public they serve.
Those who want to become pen pals for soldiers can visit the Adopt a Soldier or Soldiers Angels websites. Email is also available, and participants might consider sending care packages of food, toiletries or other comfort items along with letters.