They are told when they get to boot camp that the Marine Corps will always make certain that Marines will get three things, their pay, clean socks, and their mail. Their pay because they work hard for it and earn every cent and then some for their sacrifices. Clean socks because troops can’t march on busted feet, and their mail because even the Corps know how important it is to be able to hear from and stay in touch with loved ones. We have been through three deployments and while I never knew when I would get a call, or an e-mail, or even a letter, I always knew that he would get his mail, so I made certain to make every little piece of home we sent as special as possible, and simple letters simply wouldn’t suffice. For our family it’s care packages all the way.
You could say that I am addicted to care packages. Whenever my husband is deployed I do all I can to help him feel a little more loved, closer to home, and missed like crazy. I send a care package a week, and fill it with everything from the practical to the nonsensical.
Sure I send the standards like phone cards, lip balm, hand/foot warmers, sunscreen, shampoo, cotton swabs, deodorant, razors, shaving gel, personal cleansing cloths, foot powder, dental travel kits (includes toothbrush, toothpaste & floss or mouthwash) first aid kits, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.
But, I also splurge and send things like DVDs, Starbucks Double Shots canned coffee, candy (not chocolate – it melts and gets EVERYWHERE), music, magazines, pictures of family and friends both old and new, hand written letters, and the occasional video from home.
For holidays and special occasions I would send decorations, black and orange streamers, and plastic jack-o-lanterns for Halloween (along with loads of trick or treat candy). Valentines day means lots of pink confetti, and hearts, pretty much anything that would make him blush and his buddies give him a hard time. St. Patty’s day, leprechaun hats, and shamrocks.
Christmas meant cards from relatives, church members, garlands, mini Christmas trees, and the every important fruitcake and Christmas cookies. Anything that would remind my husband of those little things from home that while he is here don’t seem like much, but while he’s there seem like luxuries.
Most importantly, though are those things that allow him to see how much the kids have grown, or in the case of our last deployment how much I had grown as I was expecting our third child. Photo albums of silly pictures, pieces of “art” they created themselves, cards they “sign”, and recorded messages from each of them telling daddy how much they love him.
My husband like so many other marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen, look forward to receiving packages from home. They brighten the day, and lift the spirits. They can be the difference between knowing their loved ones are OK, and being distracted by wondering. The care package is an essential part of deployments, and a little care package can do a world of good. Little pieces of home can help a serviceperson to stay connected and focused on the matters at hand. Having the piece of mind of knowing that those they left behind are happy and healthy goes a long way towards alleviating the stress of being so far from home.
There are countless organizations like “Operation Gratitude”, “Give2theTroops”, the USO, and “Treat Any Soldier” that send care packages to our men and women overseas. All it takes is a few minutes of your time online to Google “military care packages” and you are on your way to finding a serviceperson in need of some love from home.
Our servicemen and women do so much to ensure our freedoms, and knowing that they are out of sight but NOT out of mind can give them the encouragement they need to keep fighting the good fight.