Facts Matter: Post office won't deliver Christmas cards addressed to 'any soldier'

A social media post asking users to send an extra Christmas card to injured American soldiers has been flagged as false information by Facebook, according to

The Facebook post suggests people sending Christmas cards should mail one addressed to "A Recovering American Soldier" at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

But the U.S. Postal Service won't deliver mail with such an address and military hospitals don't accept mail for unnamed service members, PolitiFact said.

According to the postal service, the practice of delivering mail to unknown service members was discontinued after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, PolitiFact said.

In a 2007 statement addressing the "the post-9/11 world," Walter Reed officials said they "cannot receive mail addressed to 'any soldier' or 'a recovering patient.' These cards are returned to the Post Office."

The Facebook post also has an incorrect address for the military hospital, PolitiFact said. In 2011, Walter Reed Army Medical Center merged with the National Naval Medical Center to create the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Human trafficking zip tie story is false

A meme recently making the rounds on social media appears to be well-intentioned but not based in fact, according to

Variations of the meme claim a user found her windshield wipers zip-tied together while the car was parked in a public lot. The false post has police saying this is a trick human traffickers use to distract and abduct women.

This post was first debunked by Snopes in July when the meme claimed human traffickers in San Angelo, Texas, were leaving zip ties on homes, mailboxes and cars to identify potential female victims. The story was labeled false by San Angelo police.

The latest version, said to be happening in College Station, Texas, was addressed by law enforcement there. While warning people to always be aware of their surroundings, police said they had no reports of human traffickers using zip ties to mark victims, Snopes said.

Buttigieg uses selective data about poverty

Presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg recently said the number of blacks living in poverty in his city dropped significantly while he was in office.

During a campaign stop in a majority-black town in South Carolina, Buttigieg claimed, "We cut the black poverty rate by more than half," according to The Washington Post. But it's not that clear cut.

The Census Bureau's American Community Survey, conducted each year, collects data for cities in one-year and five-year estimates. The Post looked at five-year numbers for 2007-11, just before Buttigieg took office in January 2012, and the most recent data from 2013-17. Between those periods, the black poverty rate in South Bend dropped 6%.

The one-year estimates are the basis for Buttigieg's claim, the Post said.

Those numbers show a decline of blacks in poverty in South Bend from 53% to 24% from 2011 to 2017, more than half, as the mayor said. But in the 2018 Census Bureau data released last month, the rate went up to 32%. And an expert told the Post the one-year numbers have a large amount of sampling error.

Bounty hunter is alive

Recent reports claiming Duane Chapman - known as "Dog the Bounty Hunter" - having died either by suicide or a pulmonary embolism are false, according to

Website TMZ published a story on Nov. 20 headlined, "Nope, he's not dead" accompanied by a photo Chapman provided of himself holding a Nov. 19 edition of The Denver Post and a sign stating, "I'm alive!"

The false story of his death that first appeared on social media redirected users who clicked on it to a story claiming Chapman died of pulmonary embolism and appeared to be from WGN America, the network that broadcasts his most recent reality show, "Dog's Most Wanted," Snopes said. The video with the story pauses after a few seconds and requires users to share it in order to continue watching.

WGN America had nothing to do with the story, Snopes said.

A second post, claiming to be from BBC News, claims Chapman killed himself, Snopes said. Like the other post, people who clicked on it were sent to a different site where a video began to play, paused, and said the post must to shared to continue watching.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at

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Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg used selective data about black poverty in South Bend during a recent campaign stop in South Carolina. Associated Press file photo
Duane "Dog" Chapman: Not dead. Associated Press file photo
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