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

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.

OperationDearAbby.net, 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:

I have a warning for your readers. It is always touching to hear stories of long-lost loves being reunited to then live happily ever after. I had a love like that when I was in high school. He was in the Army in California.

We met again after 41 years, fell in love, and began what seemed like a dream come true. I gave up a great job and proximity to family and friends to relocate to Washington. My dream turned into a financially and emotionally draining nightmare. After a year and a half of marriage that volleyed between cruelty and reassurances of his love, I confirmed my intuition that he had been lying and cheating the whole time.

I had based my trust in him on that sweet history that was decades in the past. I am writing to urge others to be cautious. Do not misplace your trust as I did.

Betrayed After All These Years

While it's true that many childhood sweethearts successfully rekindle that old flame in later life, it's also true that as people grow older they sometimes change -- and not always for the better. That's why it's important to look carefully before you leap into anything and take nothing for granted.

I'm sorry your happy ending turned out badly and your prince into a toad. Be glad you know the truth and are again in control of your future because -- believe me -- it's not over until you take your last breath.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate