To a soldier in a combat zone, unless mid-deployment leave comes in December, Christmas probably isn’t something he or she is looking forward to. But for friends, family and supporters back home, the time to think about it and the time to buy is now.
Packages going to Iraq or Afghanistan with guaranteed delivery for Christmas will have to leave the United States no later than mid November.
Individuals or groups that plan on supporting the troops during the holidays need to think ahead. It’s not too soon to start making Christmas stockings, pillowcases, cards or small ornaments.
The number one troop support site, AnySoldier.com makes some thoughtful suggestions for supporting your warfighter or his unit this Christmas:
Keep in mind most units have no place for massive amounts of packages, nor the means to move them. (Esp. if they have to move on short notice)
Never send more than five packages to any address at the same time. Keep the packages small. Tents, barracks and small combat housing units have very limited space. They can’t accommodate large boxes. (Family Readiness Groups know their soldiers and their living conditions and might be an exception to this rule.)
Chances are you are not the only person or organization sending packages to that troop or unit. Soldiers will have to deal with the packages on their down time. They are fighting a war. Down time is limited.
Unless a soldier has personal knowledge of the group sending packages, for their own safety they are encouraged NOT to eat home baked cookies, popcorn balls or similar items. Packaged treats are preferred.
In Combat Outpost situations access to a post-exchange (on base store) is often limited. Soldiers (all inclusive of the branches) returning from missions sometimes get back after the chow hall has closed so snacks and on-the-go foods remain high on the list of items soldiers would like to receive.
Some of the most requested items:
Hygiene items to include:
Shampoo, body wash, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste
Books, magazines, newspapers from home
Peanuts, sunflower seeds, jerky, powdered drink mixes for bottled water, Ramen noodles
Pens, envelopes, paper for writing home (no stamps necessary, mail out of a combat zone is free)
Socks (heavy boot socks) PT socks (low cut, all white, no logo)
The number one requested item is still a card or letter from home.
Flat Rate Priority boxes remain the most economical shipping method to APO and FPO addresses.
USPS has reversed their ban on sending tobacco products in these boxes. As of August 27, with proper customs forms and delivery confirmation, Priorty Shipping is allowed for cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco.
Shipping kits which include boxes, tape and customs forms are available from the US Postal Service FREE at 1-800-610-8734. More shipping information from www.usps.com.
If you would like to receive military related articles from this Examiner, please use the SUBSCRIBE icon at the top of the page.
This Examiner will be offline until August 28. Thanks for reading!