Armed Forces Day

Almost everyone knows someone currently serving in military services, and one thing stands true for all members of all branches of service: care packages from home never go unappreciated. Armed Forces Day is a day to honor all service men and woman from each branch of the military; much of the mesothelioma community are veterans, or loved ones of veterans or current members of the military. In honor of Armed Forces Day, the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance has put together some helpful ideas for preparing and sending the best and most useful care packages to loved ones overseas.

For many family members and friends, care packages seem simple. A box of homemade cookies and a sweet card should suffice. However, while sweets from home will be eaten, there are other items that your serviceman or woman might appreciate a little more.

Send This, Not That

If you're thinking about sending cookies or other sweets such as candy, send non-perishable, nutritional snacks instead. Believe it not, our service men and women are actually all set in the cookies department. Many companies, including the Girl Scouts and Otis Spunkmeyer, have ensured that the soldiers are never short on cookies in even the most remote locations. Candy is also vastly oversupplied. Instead, consider sending protein bars, such as Clif bars, beef jerky, dried fruit, and trail mix. These snacks have substance, taste more like real food to soldiers and also provide nutritional benefits.

If you're thinking about sending cheap, disposable hygiene products, send quality ones instead. Consider: often times these men and women are grooming themselves in less than comfortable conditions. Instead of sending throwaway products, think about sending quality ones that might make the experience a little easier. Some ideas are razors with replaceable blade heads (think Gillette Mach 3/Venus), nice shoe inserts for sore feet, odor-eliminating shoe powder, and Febreeze to help with uniform freshness. Toilet paper is supplied by the military, so save your money and package space.

If you're thinking about sending DVDs of movies or television shows, send an iPod pre-loaded with a music library and audio books. It's often possible that, due to a lack of intellectual property enforcement in many parts of the world, your soldier will be able to purchase any movies he or she wants almost anywhere in the world at a cheaper rate than you can find in the United States. A pre-loaded iPod with favorite music and a few books from the bestsellers list in his or her favorite genre will serve more useful and, therefore, more appreciated in the long run.

If you're thinking about sending a Bible, rosary, or other religious text, send a handwritten letter with thoughtful words and advice instead. Almost every unit of the service has a chaplain who is able to provide stacks of Bibles and religious literature for your soldier at any time. Rosaries are often available in bulk, too. A personal handwritten letter with new advice and old wisdom will serve as a meaningful keepsake with much more sentimental value. You know your soldier best and your words and well-wishes will mean the most.

Unique Care Package Ideas

Your package will be a piece of home regardless of what it holds, but here are some more clever ideas to really make the recipient feel at home:

  • Favorite shampoo and conditioner brands
  • Favorite non-perishable food toppings, such as hot sauce, seasonings they usually put on their meals, peanut butter or Nutella
  • Pictures pre-wrapped in Ziploc bags to keep them safe and clean
  • Blanket or pillow case from home
  • Dryer sheets that he or she can fold into clothes to keep them fresh and smelling like home

By spending the time to put together a few thoughtful items, your solider will feel appreciated for their service not just on Armed Forces Day, but everyday.