MELBOURNE, Fla. — Army mom Nichole McKee doesn't know exactly where her 19-year-old son will be during the holidays, but what she did recently brought her some comfort and a smile.

  • Army mom fills out holiday cards for overseas troops for 1st time
  • She's not sure when she'll hear from her deployed 19-year-old son
  • Health First hospital network sends thousands of cards each year

McKee, of Melbourne, joined doctors, nurses, and law enforcement officers last week in filling out holiday cards to troops overseas.

"Thank you for selflessly serving our country. We are so thankful for all you do. Happy holidays from one Army mom," McKee reads.

Health First, Brevard County's nonprofit health care system, has been sending holiday cards for troops for the past four years. This year, 2,500 cards will travel worldwide, ending up in a servicemember's hand for the holidays.

McKee's son works as a Black Hawk helicopter mechanic. During his basic training, she wrote three letters a day to him for three months. 

"I'm here for you. I know you can do this," she wrote. "They were sent out every day. He had to do 10 pushups for every letter and said, 'Keep them coming,' because it was making him stronger, and he would give some to his buddies so they had encouraging words," McKee said.

This is her first time writing cards for other servicemembers. Wherever they end up, she wants the troops to know that the nation is thinking of them. 

"How thankful we are of their service, how proud we are they've taken upon themselves as a duty to serve their country," McKee says with tears in her eyes. 

"The greatest thing we can do for our kids is to teach them to grow and leave the nest, but the hardest part is watching them succeed and letting them go."

There are several organizations that collect cards, letters and such for the troops all year around. Here are a few: