So, your husband, wife, son or daughter is deployed overseas. Just as much as you are missing them and longing for their safe return home, they are missing home. You want to send them something to remind them of home and let them know that you are supporting them and missing them…but what should you send? Here are my Top 10 Cool Gift Ideas for Deployed Soldiers.
10. Hygiene Items: Sounds pretty lame, right? You would be surprised how much a typical “care package” with items like; deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. is appreciated by a Soldier living in the field. Small little luxury items can really lift a person’s spirits and give them some extra motivation…all because they got a clean shave or washed their face. Another good idea is to send enough items so that your Soldier can share some of the items with their buddy!
9. Tobacco Products: Go to any combat arms element and you will see Soldiers either smoking or dipping. Simply sending them a few rolls of their favorite snuff or cartons of their favorite cigarettes can do a lot to lift their spirits. You may disagree with them using tobacco products, but try and let go of that and do something for them. After all, they may be in high stress environment and enjoy the drag of a cigarette once in a while…
8. Lickies and Chewies: What are “lickies and chewies”? Well, anything that a Soldier can keep on him, pop in his mouth and snack on. Sometimes Soldiers go all day without a meal (besides an MRE, which isn’t always that appetizing) and need some fuel. Simple bags of candy like; Jolly Ranchers, Starbursts, Tootsie Rolls, Jelly Beans, etc. will withstand the heat (for the most part) and give them a quick surge of energy and sugar. Sometimes, snacking can help curb boredom as well!
7. Newspapers and Magazines: Your Soldier may not be established in an area where they can get to a PX to get the latest copy of their favorite sports car magazine or daily paper. Keep old copies of the paper or stop by your local drug store and pick up some magazines. During their down time, reading is a good way to pass the time and stay in touch with what is going on back home.
6. Homemade Arts and Crafts: If you have children together or are crafty enough, sit down and do some homemade arts and crafts. I have seen it countless times where Soldiers will take up their entire living space with photos of their children and the pictures they color for them. There is something about a son or daughter sending their mother or father a sloppy, colored picture that makes them feel closer to their children despite being worlds apart.
5. Luxury Items: This topic is pretty vague, but I feel like there are everyday items that Soldiers use that can be greatly improved by a simple gift from home. For example, you know that your Soldier is most likely sleeping on the ground or a cot. Head over to your local sporting goods store and pick up a nice memory foam pad or inflatable mattress for them. Go online and Google military suppliers to find nice moisture-wicking socks and T-Shirts. Anything that can increase their comfort will be greatly appreciated.
4. Love Letters: I stole this idea from my wonderful girlfriend, who, every time I go away for training or what have you will prepare a love letter for each day I am gone. Now, deployments are typically 12 months (and some have often been up to 15 months!) so that may be difficult, but give it a shot. It is a nice daily routine to take a few minutes to sit down and read a quick letter and even write back. Show your Soldier how much you love them and miss them!
3. Photos of Home: Similarly to the Homemade Arts and Crafts, sending Soldiers photos from home can quickly become artifacts on their “wall of fame”. Try sending photos of great memories you had together right before deployment or even take a few photos each month as to create a sort of “timeline” of events so they don’t feel like they are missing everything because they have been shipped off.
2. A Phone Call/Calling Cards: A picture may be worth a 1,000 words, but to me I believe hearing a loved ones voice weighs more. A Soldier may only get a few phone call opportunities a month, so make sure you are around to answer that call! Nothing can be more unsettling than calling home and hearing a voicemail or answering machine. They may be having the worst week since they’ve been in country and the sound of your voice can lift them back up and motivate them to drive on. Understanding the weight that this has, I would say this ranks very high on the list.
1. Skype or Facetime: Before your Soldier ships out, pick up their laptop and download some Skype software and upload some minutes. Or maybe even surprise them with a brand new Macbook so that you can Facetime! Just like the importance of the phone call, the ability to talk face-to-face and see each other has an enormous impact on morale and motivation. Bringing the kids in to say hello to their mother or father will also make them happy as well too!
In summary, these are my top 10 cool gift ideas for deployed Soldiers. I would love to get your input. Please leave a comment below to tell us what you think are great gift ideas for deployed Soldiers. I look forward to hearing from you.