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Holiday Mail for Heroes: Give Something That Means Something

Holiday Mail for Heroes- Give Something that means something 2014

Program Overview

With many service members and veterans separated from their families this holiday season due to deployments and hospital stays, the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes (HMFH) program empowers people to “Give Something That Means Something” by sending a card of thanks and support to the members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

Beginning in 2014, the program will take on a different look, as Red Cross chapters across the continental U.S. and Red Cross offices on military installations overseas will take complete control of the program. There will no longer be a national Holiday Mail for Heroes P.O. Box to which cards are sent.

Moving forward, local Red Cross offices will collect, sort, and distributing the holiday cards using an events-based approach in their local communities. Local Red Cross offices will:

  1. Hold events to sign or make holiday cards
  2. Schedule card-sorting times.
  3. Coordinate card delivery to the military, vets and families in their communities.

These changes will allow local Red Cross offices to better concentrate on reaching out to the members of the military, veterans and families in their community—neighbors helping neighbors.

Questions & Answers

What is the Holiday Mail for Heroes Program?
The Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program enables Americans to “Give Something That Means Something” this holiday season. We are inviting the public to send cards of thanks, encouragement and holiday cheer to members of our U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and military families, many of whom will be far away from home this holiday season.

What is the address of the P.O. Box for the program?
There is no longer a national P.O. Box for the program. Instead, Holiday Mail for Heroes is being conducted at the Red Cross office in your local community. Check with your local Red Cross for times and locations of events and for opportunities to get involved.

Why is the Red Cross changing the format of the program?
We have made this change for several reasons including:

  • A reduction in U.S. military forces overseas, particularly in the Middle East and across Europe.
  • Increased costs of conducting the program.

I contacted my local Red Cross office and they are not participating in the program this year. Where do I send my cards?
There are two options for sharing your holiday cards:

  • Ask your local Red Cross office for military and veterans organizations in your community where you can send your cards directly.
  • Check the participating chapters tab for updated information regarding the closest Red Cross chapter in your area participating in Holiday Mail for Heroes.

I don’t know anyone in the military; how do I participate?
You don’t need to know anyone in the military. Red Cross workers will distribute cards to members of the military and veterans around the world. Contact your local Red Cross for times and locations of card-signing and card-making events.

Cards are not addressed to anyone specific, so who gets these cards?
Participating Red Cross chapters will determine how to best distribute cards to service members, veterans and family members in their local communities, across the nation and around the world. Cards may be delivered individually, included in care packages or displayed at common venues in military installations and hospitals.

Can I drop cards off at my local Red Cross office?

Will my card be distributed to our troops stationed overseas?
Cards are distributed to hundreds of locations domestically and around the world, including military installations, military and VA medical facilities and veterans organizations. Please understand that it is difficult to determine which cards will be sent overseas and which will be sent domestically.

What is the goal for the 2014 Holiday Mail for Heroes Program?
The goal is to share season’s greeting and holiday cheer to the members of our Armed Forces. We do not have a goal for a total number of cards.

Are there other restrictions and guidelines for cards?
In order to make cards as meaningful as possible to a wide audience, we recommend that the public use generic titles such as “Dear Service Member, Veteran, or Military Family Member” when writing the cards. Cards should not contain glitter because some cards may end up at the bedside of a wounded service member and the glitter could aggravate existing health issues.

Can I include calling cards, money or other items in the cards?
We ask that people not enclose any items with the holiday cards. Any items enclosed with the holiday cards will be removed, including photos and other gifts. If you wish to provide financial support for Red Cross services to the military, please donate online.

How can people get involved in the Holiday Mail program beyond mailing a card?
  • Word of Mouth: Check with your local Red Cross office for up-to-date information about the program.
  • Social Media: Connect with fellow card senders through social media channels and help us get the word out through Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to use the hashtag #holidaymail.
  • Help Sort and Deliver Cards: If you are interested in helping sort and deliver cards, please contact a participating chapter in your area to see how you can help.

How can people support other Red Cross programs that help members of the military and their families?
Supporting Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces work is simple and we encourage you to make a financial donation by donating online or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

**Contact your local Red Cross chapter directly to find out if they are participating**

Q&A’s About the 100% Disabled Veteran’s Homestead Exemption

If you qualify as a 100% Disabled Veteran, you will be interested in the answers to the most commonly asked questions below.

  • What are the qualifications for this exemption?
    • You qualify for this 100% homestead exemption if you meet these requirements:
      • You own a home and occupy it as your residence homestead.
      • You are receiving 100% disability compensation from the US Department of Veterans Affairs for a service-connected disability.
      • You have a disability rating of 100% disabled or of individual unemployability.

      To get this exemption, you must fill out Form 11.13, checking the box for 100% Disabled Veterans Exemption, as well as all boxes that apply to you. You must attach documentation as well. You may attach a copy of your award letter, a “VA tax letter,” or another document from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs showing 100% disability compensation due to a service-connected disability and a rating of 100% disability or of individual unemployability. The documents you attach must be current documents.

  • How much of my home’s value will it exempt?

    • If you qualify, your home will be totally exempt from property taxes in all jurisdictions, regardless of the home’s value. If you co-own the home with someone other than your spouse, your share of the home’s value will be exempted.
  • I already have a homestead exemption. Do I need to apply for the 100% Disabled Veteran Homestead Exemption?
    • Yes. This exemption is not given automatically.
  • I just qualified for the disabled veteran’s exemption. Why do I need to send you my documentation for this exemption?
    • Qualifications for the 100% Disabled Veteran Homestead Exemption differ from those for the prior disabled veteran’s exemption. In particular, you must show that you actually receive 100% disability compensation for a service-connected disability, and have a rating of 100% disability or individual unemployability.
  • When is the new homestead exemption effective?
    • If you apply and qualify for the current tax year as well as the prior tax year, you will be granted the 100% Disabled Veteran Homestead Exemption for both years. Effective January 1, 2012, you may receive this exemption for the applicable portion of the year immediately upon qualification. (This applies to 2012 forward; not to prior years).
  • I bought my home after January 1, 2011. Will I get the new exemption for part of 2011?
    • No. The exemption will take effect for the 2012 year if you didn’t own your home on January 1, 2011.
  • My disability rating is actually 50%, but because I am over 65, I receive the maximum disability exemption. Do I qualify for the new homestead exemption?
    • No. You must be 100% disabled or have a rating of individual unemployability to qualify for the 100% Disabled Veteran Homestead Exemption. You must also be receiving 100% disability compensation from the VA. If the VA reduces or changes either of these ratings, it is your responsibility to notify the appraisal district in writing.
  • If something happens to me, will the new homestead exemption pass to my spouse or children?
    • Your surviving spouse, married to you and living at the same residence, may qualify to continue this exemption.
  • I owe delinquent taxes on my home for years before 2011. Will the new exemption affect those?
    • No. The exemption will apply for 2011 forward. It does not affect prior years.
  • I am in a hospital or nursing home. Can I still get the new exemption?
    • Yes, as long as you intend to return to the home when you are able.
  • My spouse and I own our home together. How is this homestead exemption calculated?
    • If the home is community property, it is calculated as if you owned 100% of the home. If the home is not community property, the exemption is prorated in proportion to the value of your interest.
  • I have a mortgage on the home. Can I still get the new homestead exemption?
    • Yes.
  • I don’t currently have a homestead exemption. Do I need to apply for the regular homestead exemption in addition to this one?
    • You should also apply for the regular homestead exemption. This will ensure that you receive the maximum benefits of the regular exemption should your qualification for the new exemption change.
  • I have recently turned 65. Should I apply for the over-65 homestead exemption in addition to the new exemption?
    • Yes, for the same reasons given above.
  • Q. How much of my home’s value will the new exemption exempt?
    • Your home will be totally exempt from property taxes.
  • I meet all of the qualifications for this exemption. I currently apply the $12,000 regular disabled veteran’s exemption to my home. When I get the 100% Disabled Veteran Homestead Exemption, what happens to the other exemption?
    • This exemption will exempt all of the value of your home. Consequently, the $12,000 disabled veteran’s exemption will have no effect. If you own other taxable property (such as a vacation home or business), you should file a new application with the appraisal district and designate the $12,000 exemption as applying to the other property.
  • Will I have to reapply every year for the 100% Disabled Veteran Homestead Exemption?
    • No. Once your exemption is granted, you will not have to reapply unless the chief appraiser requires you to do so in writing.
  • I already have a disability homestead exemption on my home. What is the difference between that one and this one?
    • The existing disability homestead exemption has different requirements and benefits. For that exemption, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disabled, which is not necessarily the same as that used by the VA or your branch of the military. The benefits are also different. Only school districts are required to provide a disability homestead exemption, though many other taxing entities do. The 100% Disabled Veteran Homestead Exemption will apply to all taxing units and will exempt the total value of your home.
  • Can I apply this exemption to my main home and get the general homestead exemption on my vacation home?
    • No. Both exemptions apply only to the home that is your principal residence. You can, however, apply the prior disabled veteran’s exemption to your vacation home.
  • How do I get documentation of my status from the VA?
    • You can contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000. Their website is at www.va.gov.