Deployment to the Middle East comes with its unique challenges for our troops. However, receiving packages from loved ones at home undoubtedly helps bring down the accompanying stress. Also, packing goodies for your service member makes you feel a lot closer to them. Anything sent to troops is always highly appreciated; however, some items are more useful than others while others are forbidden from being posted! Before packing find out what your loved one may need and confirm the possibility of restrictions as to what you’re allowed to send.
1. Personal items
Troops spend a fair amount of time standing, and as expected their feet take some beating. Foot powder and clean socks come in handy in keeping our feet dry and comfy. Items such as lip balm, Vicks VapoRub, high-quality body wash and pain-soothing topical cream aren’t essential but a welcome luxury. Personal items sent should factor the weather where the troop is stationed. For instance, a contingent based in the sandy Middle East could benefit from goggle-style sunglasses, lens cleaning cloths to wipe the sunglasses rather than resorting to using t-shirts, baby wipes and sunscreen due to the harsh desert conditions. For troops in the colder regions, fingerless gloves, cotton-made long underwear, stocking caps, and disposable hand warmers would considerably make the conditions more bearable. Toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo just to name a few are needed by troops as well. While shipping the products, ensure the opening of the containers is wrapped with plastic more so where there’s a liquid inside. As a precautionary measure, avoid aerosol cans.
2. Entertainment and Communication
Despite frantic schedules, troops always spare some time to unwind. During such time they partake in leisure activities such as playing video games, word games, puzzles, watching movies, listening to music and reading. Pack a few comic books, novels or magazines especially if your service person prefers solo activities over group activities.
3. Sentimental Possessions
In each care package, include an important reminder of home or an intimate note. Photographs, video recordings of family activities or drawings will cheer your service member.
Here are more ideas:
- A homemade CD of your troop’s favorite tracks.
- Weekend comics from the local newspaper
- Your kid’s schoolwork or art projects
- A scrapbook of souvenir from home.
4. Food and Drink
The way to a person’s heart is through the stomach, so goes the saying and our service members are no exception. While there is sufficient food on base, a much of it is drab with little variety. Consequently, troops are sure to appreciate hot sauce, Taco Bell sauce (great to have on field trips), seasoned salt, mustard and ramen nodules mixed with Meals Ready to Eat. During the warmer months, sweetened drink mixes such as lemonade and iced tea in care packages work best, whereas coffee, cocoa, and tea bags come in handy in colder seasons. Snacks, non-perishable beef jerky, tuna fish, candy, and gum also work a treat; however, they ought to be packed separately from toiletries and the like.