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Military Care Packages: Support Our Troops

by Lorie Witkop
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Military care packages bring the comforts of home to our troops, and there are many men and women who would appreciate such a package. Approximately 1.4 million US troops are on active duty in the United States and around the world in about 150 different countries. While the military provides the basics of food, shelter and gear, all of these soldiers must use their military pay to buy personal items and treats. Even if they are willing to pay for them, some personal items are hard to find, especially in combat zones. Military care packages make soldiers' lives a little bit easier and more enjoyable by providing these extras.

Imagine running out of sunscreen in the desert, or just wanting a little taste of home instead of the usual MREs. A package of wet wipes may be the closest thing to a shower the troops have had all month. A book or magazine will help a soldier relax and escape reality for a few hours. Military care packages can take care of these needs and more while showing the troops that people back home are thinking about them.

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First, all packages must be sent to a specific soldier. Mail addressed to "Any Soldier" will not be delivered. Then how can you send military care packages if you don't personally know a soldier? Treats for Soldiers, for example, offers a chance for you to send much-appreciated items to military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, as will Operation Care Package. Operation Gratitude also helps our troops by sending care packages addressed to individual soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines deployed overseas.

Next, prepare your package. You may want to fulfill specific requests from the troops, or you can send care packages for soldiers of your own design. If you would like to gather items for the troops and donate them to an organization that can send them overseas for you, you can contact Any Soldier or Treats for Soldiers, among others. Operation Gratitude will send a care package for you to a specific service member if you fill out their request form.  

Military care package ideas:

  • Pre-packaged, non-perishable food (no chocolate) and powdered drink mixes
  • Phone cards - Not every unit has access to phones, so only send phone cards if requested
  • Toiletries - Keep both male and female soldiers in mind
  • Books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and other entertainment items (no pornography please)
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses

If you're still not sure what you should send, check out these care package ideas offered by Operation Gratitude or more ideas provided by Operation Care Packages. If you want to send a care package but don’t have the time or ability to shop for the items, you can order a pre-made military care package and have it sent for you.

Finally, drop your care packages for our troops in the mail. Postage is cheaper than you might expect because you don't actually have to send your military care packages to Iraq or Afghanistan. All military mail is sent to APO and FPO addresses in the United States.

Tips for sending military care packages:

  • Don't send homemade food unless you know the recipient because it will be thrown out for safety reasons.
  • Keep food and non-food items in separate care packages.
  • Wrap your packages carefully. They're traveling a long distance in hot weather.

Check out the United States Postal Service's military mailing instructions before you ship your military care packages.

Consider making this a family or workplace effort so that you can send even more care packages for troops.

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