Grandmother writes thousands of heartfelt letters to Canadian troops

At age 87, Gladys Osmond spends her days writing letters. Addressing her correspondence to "any soldier," the woman behind the morale-boosting Granny Brigade sends notes of encouragement to Canadian soldiers overseas.

"I write more than 1,000 every month. Besides email."

Osmond wrote her first letter to a Canadian soldier in 1983. Since then, she founded the Granny Brigade, a group dedicated to writing to members of the Canadian military.

Osmond, from Springdale, Newfoundland, has been honoured and awarded for her moral support, including the Commander's Commendation and the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award. In 2006, General Rick Hiller, chief of defense staff, presented her with the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service.

Still, she says the correspondence is worth more than any formal commendation: "The letters from the soldiers in the field are more precious than anything I have ever received."

Her countless letters inspired a book. In 2008, she wrote "Dear Gladys: Letters from Over There," which provides a look into her correspondence with troops and the experiences they share with her.

At an award ceremony, one officer said of Osmond, "Gladys has done more for the morale of Canada's troops overseas than any other single person alive today. Her extraordinary selflessness, patriotism and generosity have touched the lives of so many people for so long that words falter on the path of fair praise. Not all warriors carry a sword, nor are all sermons preached from a pulpit."

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