A hometown-themed care package is a great way to send fun reminders from a familiar place and keep military members connected to family, friends and their community during deployments.
This gift-giving adage – “something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read” – is a great one to keep in mind when building your care package. Just make sure the items you choose are on-theme. Tuck in photos, letters and a few other personal touches (plus an edible treat or two!) and you’ll be sure to put a smile on your soldier’s face.
Check out this guide for lots of practical information about packing and shipping your care package overseas.
In the past six years of my life, I have been shipping care packages overseas — a lot of them. Between two deployments, being stationed overseas, a few adopted soldiers and a school supply project in Iraq, I have shipped well over 400 boxes. I have never had a box lost or horribly damaged. That’s a blessing.
When I ship boxes, I pack them myself and I use a system I’ve developed over the years. It’s not rocket science. You also learn with time to choose items you can easily fit into flat rate boxes. I’ve never even used a mail store, such as a UPS Store, until recently.
When I faced deployment the first time I felt like a deer caught in the headlights. I was paralyzed. It was an internal paralysis. I think I looked put together on the outside, but I was falling apart daily on the inside.
I am a proud woman. I do not like to share my weaknesses and my pain with others. My stoicism is both a benefit and a liability to me. It’s a benefit because I am very careful with whom I share my vulnerability. It is a liability because sometimes I need to let my family and friends know that I am not faring well. They need to know I need encouragement and that I may not be able to reciprocate that support for a little while.
Here are a few things I wish I would have had the courage to say during my son’s first deployment. I hope this helps another parent or spouse articulate their deep feelings so others can understand what they are going through. Change the words to match your own situation, and let others in your life know what you are going through and what you need. You might just be surprised at the amount of support you do have.
The realities of deployment are hitting many military families hard this week with Father’s Day fast approaching. Although deployment is rough year-round, during certain holidays it can get especially difficult. The best way to ease the extra mental burden around certain holidays is to face them head on with a positive attitude. See More
Living with PTSD can be devastating, not just for service members but also for their families.
There is a well-established connectionbetween PTSD and relationship problems. Veterans with PTSD are twice as likely to get divorced and three times more likely to be divorced more than once. In addition to that, veterans with PTSD are also much more likely to commit violence against a family member.
It doesn’t have to be this way. PTSD is treatable, and it’s up to family members to encourage their loved one to seek help and to facilitate the treatment process, and the first step is gathering information. See More
May is National Moving Month. That means now is a great time to focus on the members of your military family who might
not handle moving so well — your pets.
These companions, most commonly cats or dogs, warmed their way into your heart and when moving day comes, the tension can be stressful. A little planning and patience can help pets have a smooth transition that puts a premium on their well-being.
When pets are moving with a family, it’s important that they start adjusting early. This is usually easier for dogs because many owners will bring them along on car rides long before moving is ever a concern. Cats are a different story.
Most felines only see the outside of a home a few times in their life. On top of that, the trips are often linked to traumatic memories such as going to the veterinarian, which is why acclimating cats (or other pets not accustomed to life outside the home) early to traveling is always best.
To accomplish this, put a pet’s carrier in the home. Owners can use blankets, toys and treats to help pets adjust to the unfamiliar space inside the carrier. The same goes for a car. Take your pet on short trips and ease them into riding along in a moving automobile.
When a pet arrives, don’t give them free reign over the new space right away. Dogs might be overly excited and risk harm in the moving process. Cats might turn into a recluse at the sight of a new large area to roam. Confining pets to one room will keep them out of the way and lessen their stress.
It’s also a good idea to ease your pet into this new living situation. Letting an animal spend a few nights with the new family prior to moving will limit the signs of stress. Just don’t forget to give that lovable pet a big hug before the family leaves.
If a pet can’t come along, but the owner will return, like with deployment, it’s also recommended to acclimate a pet as soon as possible. The best option is asking a family member to watch a pet while the owner is away. When family members aren’t available, there are other good choices, including:
There may also be times when uprooting a pet doesn’t make sense or fit into a family’s needs.
If a pet can’t be moved, no matter the circumstances, the best option is to give a pet to someone the animal is familiar with. Giving a pet to another family member or friend is preferable. Foster care and adoption services can also help.
The Department of Labor created the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to help individuals cope with family emergencies. FMLA entitles qualified employees to take job-protected leaves of absence for certain family and medical emergencies.
For many years family and medical leave was only allowed for families of National Guard members, but changes since 2008 have greatly expanded the qualifying service members and employers.
There are many misconceptions about what this leave can and should be used for. While some believe this time is only available if you need to care for an injured service member, there are a number of military related absences that are covered. See More
A few weeks back we asked our Facebook followers for advice and tips for new military families and service members. Dozens of people participated in the submit-a-tip with really great ideas. We wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the best and most common advice and thank everyone for keeping our Facebook community so active.
Almost all of the tips submitted had something to do with maintaining a positive attitude. It’s no secret that the military lifestyle comes with a lot of ups and downs and at times it may be hard to keep up. No matter what you’re faced with, a positive attitude is a handy weapon. See More
It’s amazing how many factors play into successfully delivering a care package with baked goodies inside. Experimentation and trials among military spouses and families have generated some helpful tips for giving your treat the best chance to find its way into the mouth of your loved one.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when sending baked goods in a care package: