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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My name is Crystal and I am 24 years old. For some time now, I have wanted to send letters to our troops overseas to express how much the citizens of this country appreciate and respect them and their families. They sacrifice so much to serve our country. I would like the privilege of telling them we care about them, as well as the chance to make some new friends.

With the holidays quickly approaching, I believe it is even more important to show that we care. Could you please let me and your other readers know of a way we can e-mail or send regular mail to make all of this possible?

I would also like to remind everyone that as we are all busy with cooking and shopping for the holidays, we should take some time to let our brave members of the military know we care for them and their families. God bless everyone in the world! -- APPRECIATIVE IN SAN JOSE

DEAR APPRECIATIVE: Your sentiments are beautiful, and I can't think of a better time to express them than today -- Veterans Day -- and also the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the anthrax scare, our Department of Defense suspended the Operation Dear Abby mail program. The DOD believed that mail made it too easy for terrorists to send bombs and/or other harmful agents to the military.

On Dec. 20, 2001, the Department of Defense and Dear Abby partnered to launch an official DOD Web site so that messages of support could be safely sent to our troops. Members of all branches of the military worldwide can read these messages wherever they are stationed -- even in a submarine deep in the ocean., the only official DOD Web site for sending personally written messages of support to all branches of the military year-round, is easy to use. Please visit and send as many messages as you wish. It's quicker and less expensive than the old way, and messages from home are the biggest morale booster there is.

And while I'm on the subject of morale boosters -- let's not forget the many veterans in veterans hospitals around the country. Cards would certainly be appreciated by those patients, so please consider sending some to the ones in your state.

DEAR ABBY: A close friend of mine is pregnant and has been told by her doctor that the baby has a serious genetic mutation that will most likely result in a stillbirth or death shortly after it is born. I would like to have a baby shower for her, but I am not sure if it is appropriate because of the unhappy circumstances. As you can imagine, my friend feels very sad about this situation. Please advise. -- CARING FRIEND IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR CARING FRIEND: In view of the fact that this child isn't going to make it -- barring a miracle -- there are better ways to show your support than to host a baby shower. You and her other friends should stay in close contact with the mother-to-be, and provide a willing ear and shoulder to cry on. She needs to know that you are there for her far more than gift-wrapped reminders of the baby she will lose.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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