Soldiers get Valentine's hugs and kisses online

Soldiers get Valentine's hugs and kisses online

Valentine's Day is not just for lovers. It's also for sending holiday greetings to service members protecting American interests away from home.

A database run by Operation Dear Abby and the Navy's LifeLines services network has logged nearly 400,000 messages of support and encouragement to service members overseas, according to a news release from the Defense Department.

Messages can be sent to all four services worldwide by logging on to the LifeLines Web site, at The e-mail messages are a Web alternative to bulk postal mail deliveries, which were suspended Oct. 30 due to security concerns.

To receive a message, service members log on to the site and choose messages based on their branch of service and home state. Users sending a message may include a return e-mail address.

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command gives technical support to the LifeLines network. John Maguire, an information architect with SPAWAR, designed and built the system. The developers created the site using Microsoft Active Server Pages and HTML. Security protocols are built in because the address uses the .mil domain.

Operation Dear Abby was founded by newspaper advice columnist Abigail Van Buren and has delivered mail to service members overseas during holiday seasons for more than 17 years. The AnyServiceMember mail program began during Operation Desert Storm in 1990 and grew during operations in Bosnia in the mid-1990s.

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