By Courtesy Story
28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade
(Story by Spc. Mikaela Bolker, signal support systems specialist with Golf Company, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion)
Sending and receiving mail is an integral part of a Soldier's military experience. During extended periods of time away from home, getting mail is one of the simple joys that brings familiarity and comfort to Soldiers and their families. After spending the past nine months deployed, I’ve learned lots of mail tips and tricks along the way. Today, I want to share them with you!
Here are 10 mail ideas for your Soldier that are useful, unique, and thoughtful:
1. Ask your Soldier to create a gift registry (such as Amazon Wish List). With a gift registry, Soldiers can add items they need at any time, specifying quantity, brand, and priority. Registry links can be set to public or private, and are easy to link on social media or send to inquiring family and friends. Additionally, some registries conveniently include the recipient’s address, which eliminates hassle for the sender.
2. There’s nothing like Grandma’s cooking from halfway across the world. Homemade baked goods are a great way to physically remind your Soldier of home! The most successful way to send baked goods overseas is to make sure they are properly sealed. Use a vacuum-sealed bag (such as FoodSaver) to ensure maximum freshness.
3. Snacks and Hygiene Products. Recommendations include hair ties, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, razors, baby wipes, and toothpaste/toothbrushes.
4. Decorate! Put a personalized spin on your mail. Decorate the inside of care package boxes with designs, messages, pictures, and words of encouragement. Personally, the best box decoration I’ve seen had handprints from a Soldier’s kid finger-painted all over the inside of the box.
5. Important tip! Make sure to wrap anything that could leak or spill in a plastic bag. Better safe than sorry.
6. Seasonal items. Seasonal trinkets and goodies always make the holidays more festive. Examples include a mini Christmas tree, Halloween candy, and Easter eggs. Even overseas, Soldiers want to feel included in holidays and traditions back home.
7. Pictures! Many Soldiers hang pictures of their family, friends, and pets on their walls, lockers, and around their workspace. A more intricate idea involving pictures is through a Flat Stanley spinoff: The Soldier buys a stuffed animal overseas, and then keeps a photo diary of their adventures with it. Each month, the Soldier sends these pictures back to their kids. Once the Soldier returns home, their kids receive the stuffed animal in person.
8. Stationery. Sending stationery is a great way to encourage Soldiers to write letters home. Envelopes, stamps, paper, and pens/pencils are always in demand overseas. A pen is always needed in uniform; one can never have too many. Also, if your Soldier likes arts and crafts, consider sending them markers or colored pencils.
9. Letters! There is nothing better than receiving a handwritten letter from loved ones after a long day at work. Alternately, consider sending a funny meme, comic, or quote instead.
10. (Virtual) Gift Cards. Lastly, if you still aren’t sure what to get your Soldier, you can never go wrong with a gift card and some can also be sent via email.
Please keep in mind that every Soldier and deployment is different, so make sure to ask about specifics once your Soldier arrives overseas.
Hopefully this article gave you some new ideas, and happy mail-ing!
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION