Back to previous post: Ghosts of the Great War, 2004

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Real emergency preparedness

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

November 15, 2004

Calling cards
Posted by Teresa at 02:54 PM * 35 comments

I got this from Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged, who says she got it from Steve Gilliard’s News Blog, who says he got it from Democratic Underground:

The number ONE request at Walter Reed hospital is phone cards. Because the priority of our government is to continue tax cuts for the likes of Paris Hilton, the government doesn’t pay LD phone charges and these guys, many of them amputees, are rationing their calls home.

Many will be there throughout the holidays.

Remember that most are from poor families. It is disgusting that they cannot keep in touch with family after what they have been asked to sacrifice for BushCo; especially this time of year.

Support the troops—cuz BushCo doesn’t. Send phone cards of any amount to:
Medical Family Assistance Center Walter Reed Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001
They say they need an “endless” supply of these—any amount even $5 is greatly appreciated.
IMO, “I made a donation in your name” makes a better gift than most of the mathoms and kipple that get handed round at this time of year.
Comments on Calling cards:
#1 ::: Janna Silverstein ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 03:25 PM:

Don't know if they're doing it back east, but here in Seattle, the post office has a special program where you can buy phone cards for troops when you're buying stamps. I've done it a couple of times. It's a great way to support the troops.

#2 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 03:32 PM:

See? The administration's plan is working. Outsource compassion to the comparative few who'll pay for it. It's not the government's job to be compassionate on the taxpayer dime for the men and women they put in harm's way, when such things cost pennies per taxpayer. Much more efficient to outsource it at the cost of tens and twenties and fifties of dollars to the folks who actually care.

Added bonus: if they can keep making folks with hearts pay for things like phone cards and common decency, those suckers^b^b^b^b^b^b^b great patriots won't have money enough left to donate to political organizations that oppose the junta.

Second bonus: these folks can always, always, always turn to the Church for help! The Armies of Compassion are geared up and ready to assist! For, you know. A few words about Our Savior, and a moment spent in prayer.

Fucking. Disgrace.

Someone remind me to register Republican for the next election so I can at least do the tiniest bit to nudge the Repub party back to the center through the primaries...

#3 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 03:40 PM:

The calling card info is good to know.
Does anyone know if there is any good way to contribute towards aid for Iraqi civilians?

#4 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 04:48 PM:

This sounds great.

Am I the only one who, seeing the phrase 'calling cards', still thinks of paper cards that you leave when you came by but the people you were coming to see weren't there? Or metaphors based on the same?

It really takes me an extra parse tree or so to get to phone calling cards.

#5 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 05:21 PM:

Xopher, that's the first thing that I thought of too; I've seen the prepaid cards but never had a use for one and am not sure I could have given you the official name for them.

Along Jon's lines, I'm wondering how many of the beneficiaries will think twice before voting Republican....

#6 ::: mv ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 05:54 PM:

And, Xopher, it's such a pain to fold the corners properly on these prepaid plastic ones.

#7 ::: Catie Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 06:07 PM:

You're not alone, Xopher.

*snickers at MV*


#8 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 06:15 PM:

My boss has questions about whether the phone cards really end up in soldiers' hands and not getting used by hospital staff. Can anyone vouch for the authenticity of the program? It sounds great if it's on the up and up.

#9 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 06:23 PM:

The calling card info is good to know.
Does anyone know if there is any good way to contribute towards aid for Iraqi civilians?

The only thing that comes to mind is the Red Crescent. I know most other aid agencies including Medecins sans frontiers have had to go.

This site might be a good starting point.

#10 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 06:28 PM:

This isn't specifically for the injured at Walter Reed, but the USO's Operation Phone Home is similar.

#11 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 06:31 PM:

Chris, it's been widely reported here in the DC area, I think the media would have figured out if the soldiers were being stiffed. (Yesterday we had the story of a soldier getting married -- his wife has a lot more access to him at Walter Reed than his fiancee did -- and everything was donated through a military charity, since it wasn't allowed for them to be donated directly.)

AnnaFDD, the Red Crescent isn't being allowed in Iraq because some of their ambulances carried PLO people/stuff over borders.

#12 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 07:14 PM:

Would anyone know of a print-your-own-phone-card service...I want to give $100 of "Anti-war/Pro-vet!" phone cards stat.

#13 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 07:16 PM:

Another source for phone cards that will go directly to the troops is Military Exchange Prepaid Calling Cards.

#14 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 07:25 PM:

AnnaFDD, the Red Crescent isn't being allowed in Iraq because some of their ambulances carried PLO people/stuff over borders.

They apparently are in Iraq, they just tried to carry a convoy of various stuff to Fallujah. After a bit of searching around, I came to the conclusion that they are the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, working together with the International Red Cross Commitee and the International Red Cross Something Else. I doubt they are all that popular with the guys currently running the show there right now, but they do exist, and they seem to be able to carry aid where others can't.

I know the International Red Cross itself is scaling back its operations in Iraq - like almost everybody else - because it's just too dangerous. MSF withdrew. The Italian Red Cross is still there, despite being I think restricted to Baghdad - poor Enrico Baldoni was with one of their convoys when he was kidnapped. Still, the Italian Red Cross is a military organization and works with the Italian Army who is in Iraq in clear violation of our Constitution, so I for one won't be giving them money, as much as I appreciate what they're doing. (They, and Emergency, are probably the main reason of the seven Italian hostages in Iraq only two were killed.)

Emergency - - is still operating several hospitals in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan and Sudan, but they are very definitely opposed to the war on extreme pacifism grounds. I will be giving them money, but I'm warning people - they are definitely pacifists.

I did a lot of searching around but to be honest I wasn't able to come up with anybody who was actually providing direct humanitarian aid in Iraq. My Amnesty International friends probably do know of somebody, though.

Of course - anybody providing aid to civilians is unlikely to worry too much about distinguishing between "combatants" and "non-combatants" in a situation of insurgency. Emergency for example will cure anybody at all (though they have a tendency to lecture to them). Which is both a problem for the civilians involved and for those who might like to donate, but not to insurgents.

#15 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 07:34 PM:

I've made some small individual donations to civilian causes in Iraq--mostly school supplies. They were calls by individuals in the military. I don't know of a group organization doing straight civilian work there.

Best I could come up with is the international branch of the Red Cross. If they are getting into the prisons, they're able to do something. Here's their site:

I was going to do more looking, but my internet has gone sloooooooow.

#16 ::: Abigail ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 01:12 AM:

When I first saw that hospital patients are asking for phone cards, I thought of the people my mother goes to visit at Tel Hashomer hospital. One of the few Oslo accords that never broke down was the agreement to have Israel take care of Palestinians with severe medical conditions. Tel Hashomer got the kids - most cancer patients and infants requiring surgery.

The children are given top-notch medical service, but they each come with a parent attached. These parents are allowed through the border stations with absolutely nothing, and they're not allowed to leave the hospital. So it falls to people like my mother to bring them food, toiletries, and their no. 1 requested item - phone cards.

Imagine my surprise when I realized you were talking about your own soldiers.

#17 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 08:14 AM:

Anna & Elizabeth -- thanks. I've bookmarked those two sites to look at.

Would anyone know of a print-your-own-phone-card service...I want to give $100 of "Anti-war/Pro-vet!" phone cards stat.

That's a pretty cool idea. Letus know if you figure something out.

#18 ::: mv ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 01:16 PM:

I did a lot of searching around but to be honest I wasn't able to come up with anybody who was actually providing direct humanitarian aid in Iraq.

Mercy Corps is still in Iraq doing water supply and sanitation as well as projects with longer-term benefits. The Seattle Times has them there as recently as 11/08.

Also from the Seattle Times article,

Some groups that continue to work in Iraq now shun publicity for fear of emerging as a target of terrorism. Others agreed to be named in this article. They include Portland-based Northwest Medical Teams, which trains nurses and doctors in its international and Iraqi-staffed office in Kurdish-controlled Erbil in northern Iraq, and Connecticut-based Save The Children Federation, which works in the southern Iraqi town of Basra.

(browse browse) Yeah, Save the Children is doing direct humanitarian aid.

#19 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 05:48 PM:

Abigail, thank your mother for me, please.

#20 ::: Mill ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 08:23 PM:

This isn't really something any of us can do anything about, I guess, but what about VOIP? I know that there's not exactly a Yahoo!Broadband presence in Fallujah, but surely the army has enough spare communications bandwidth to work something out. Jesus.

#21 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 09:10 PM:

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Teresa -- it is a great idea.

Just to remind you all, if you want to help service personnel, you can do worse than:

The first four are the official charities of the uniformed services which recieve no public funds. They raise most of their money from service members but they do gladly take outside contributions. The ARC is the one outside charity that is almost always there on base or post ready to help. These groups work to some extent through either the official personnel system or the chaplains and are particularly important for emergency assistance to families of those who have been deployed.

#22 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2004, 04:53 PM:

Walter Reed is a great place (as such values of Great Places go), and I have no doubt the cards are getting to the needy.

As an outpaitient, my finacee had as much access as anyone else to me, which is to say they moved me to an empty room when she came to visit. All I had to do was tell the desk.

As an inpatient, I suppose I might have needed to be legally wed, but I suspect I could have gotten around it. I can think of other things (like invitational orders) which would need the deed.


#23 ::: Laurel ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2004, 06:43 PM:

Someone pointed me to Operation Uplink, a project to get phone cards to military folks.

#24 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2004, 10:27 PM:

I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it. And it's the only gift I want to receive this year. But it eats at me somewhat to know that, in the end, my contributions will end up in the coffers of AT&T and the like.

But I'm gonna do it. It's worth it.

Abigail, your mother is a mensch. I hope that translates OK. I love her.

#25 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 09:39 AM:


Thank you, thank you, thank you!

That's what my Republican in-laws are going to get for Christmas this year--Donations in their name to the Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services.

#26 ::: MisterBS ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 08:16 AM:

I wonder if there's a way to buy calling cards that end up benefitting a long-distance company like Working Assets. There are tons of companies out there that print up phone cards, but I don't know whether you can control which phone company they benefit. Anyone know?

#27 ::: Wim ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 09:38 PM:

Well, maybe it's cheating, but you can print up your own cards for between $2 and $0.2 per card (volumes of 100 to 100,000). Buy a bunch of WALD phone cards, copy the information (number, magstripe) onto the custom cards, and destroy the originals. (Well, WALD doesn't seem to sell prepaid phone cards, just bill-to-my-account phone cards, so maybe some other company would have to do).

If your duplicate cards don't need magstripes you could do it cheaper (and wouldn't have to invest in a magstripe writer). You could just print onto card stock; laminate if you're feeling fancy.

#28 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 04:38 PM:

A good friend recently visited some of the troops at Bethesda Naval Hospital. No word about a need for phone cards, but you know, it's not like they go bad. Strongly recommended that folks donate to

My friend's perspective is that the troops are wonderfully taken care of; it's the families and the hospital staff that are stretched really, really thin. (Hint: medical draft). Some local vets are working on projects to help them out; if you live in the area and can help, feel free to email me.


#29 ::: Snake Eater ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 07:27 PM:


The Red Crescent IS the Red Cross. Even though the Red Cross is simply an adaptation of the Swiss Flag (the founder was Swiss), from Day One Muslims deemed the cross to be offensive, so Red Cross operations in Muslim states are symbolized by a Red Crescent. They are one and the same organization.

And the Italian Red Cross is not a military organization affiliated with the Italian military. The International Red Cross, which administers all Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations, is adament in their neutrality and they will not be affiliated with any military for any reason.

#30 ::: Brian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2004, 11:26 AM:

George Bush signed the Intelligence bill today. Funny thing, he still looks like a "C" average student.


Brian David Smith, San Diego, California

True enough, Ronald Reagan stuck to his guns. The difference between him and
other politicians was his choice of guns. --- Brian David Smith, June 12, 2004 ---

#31 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2004, 11:46 AM:

Update: Walter Reed has all the phone cards it needs for the next few months at least, per recent phone calls by Snopes.

#32 ::: Robin Roy ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 02:35 PM:

We sent alot of cards to Walter Reed with addresses to see if they were received. The next batch we sent self addressed stamp envelope and still no response. This is the address we used but I have my doubts about it.

#34 ::: Spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 06:05 AM:

Spam from

#35 ::: Xopher sees Zaïri spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2009, 07:14 PM:

Is that right? Zaïri? No doubt that's it's spam, at least.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.