Skip to Content

What Deployed Troops Really Want in Their Military Care Packages

Within this Article

Being deployed has its ups and downs, but receiving packages from home definitely makes the time spent there less stressful.

The best part is, through a few great programs, anyone can send a care package and you don’t even need to know the soldier receiving it.

Whether it’s a loved one or someone you’ve never met, we’ve put together a useful guide on what to include, what to avoid and how to send your care package overseas.

What to Include in a Military Care Package

Some of the best care packages deployed personnel receive are the ones that have practical items in them. On military bases, there isn't a whole lot of room for clutter, so sometimes the things that are most important are the most useful things that help service members do their job.

Important Tip: Don't forget to seal everything in plastic zip-lock bags. This protects your care package from the elements and the soldier from receiving snacks that taste like soap.

Personal and Practical Items

Service members are on their feet a lot when deployed, so some of the best items are those that help keep them dry, clean and comfortable. These may include the following:

  • High-quality socks (This is first because some high-quality socks will make the toughest soldier smile with delight)
  • Soap (shampoo, body wash, face wash, etc.)
  • Toothpaste, toothbrush and floss
  • Deodorant (travel size/non-aerosol)
  • Lip balm
  • Foot powder
  • Baby wipes
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pain-relieving topical cream (not a necessity, but can be a real luxury)
  • Vicks VapoRub
  • Hand Warmers
  • Sewing kits
  • Lens cleaning cloths and glass cleaner for goggles

Downtime Activities

Many service members have plenty of downtime as well. However, they do not have unlimited access to smartphones or the Internet, so they have to be creative to keep themselves occupied or have fun.

Some helpful items to consider include:

  • Reading material (magazines, books or an e-reader like a Kindle)
  • Handheld video games
  • Board games
  • Decks of cards
  • iPod or thumb drives with movies, music and pictures
  • Puzzles
  • Plastic model kits
  • Baseball gloves/baseballs
  • Batteries (AAs and AAAs)
  • Pencils
  • 3M wall hooks to decorate

Really anything that could help decompress from a stressful day and focus on something else.

Food and Snacks

The best way to anyone's heart is through their stomach, and deployed service members are no different.

While there's enough food to go around on base, much of it can be a little bland and the variety is lacking. Try including some of the following:

  • Hot sauce (a great commodity to have around, and the convenience of Taco Bell sauce packets are great to have in the field)
  • Water flavoring packets (many deployment areas are very hot, and service members need to constantly remain hydrated)
  • Beef jerky
  • Slim Jims
  • Protein bars
  • Gum
  • Sunflower seeds

As with anything you send, it needs to be non-perishable. Sending homemade cookies or soft candies halfway around the world just won't cut it. Please don't send food in the same package as you do shampoo or other toiletries—there's nothing worse than getting some treats from home covered in soap.

Sentimental Things

While all of the above are great, sometimes we just need an extra boost of confidence from home. While emails are convenient, they don't have the same poignancy and convey the same emotion as a hand-written letter.

Remember to take videos of everything: baby's first steps, parties, family get-togethers and even just lounging around the house. You can even put some of those on a USB drive and send it, too.

What Not to Send in a Military Care Package

Not everything is suitable for a care package. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • Adult entertainment, alcohol or drugs (these items are illegal and can get the soldier in trouble)
  • Aerosols or pressurized products
  • Firearms or ammunition (this is illegal)
  • Perishable foods
  • An entire box of the same thing unless requested (variety is a good thing)

Overall, keep in mind that whatever you send may not make it in the condition you expect. Along the way, things might get wet, break, freeze or be in shipping containers for a period of time. Make sure to check the USPS shipping restrictions list beforehand.

Where to Send Your Care Package

Even if you don’t have family or friends overseas, you can still send a care package to a deployed soldier. The USPS has a free military care kit available based on the most common requests from military families. They also have an entire page dedicated to military mail to help make sure your care package makes it successfully.

About Our Editorial Process

Veterans United is recognized as the leading VA lender in the nation, unmatched in our specialization and expertise in VA loans. Our strict adherence to accuracy and the highest editorial standards guarantees our information is based on thoroughly vetted, unbiased research. Committed to excellence, we offer guidance to our nation's Veterans, ensuring their homebuying experience is informed, seamless and secured with integrity.

Enter to win $100,000 toward your new home! No purchase necessary; see official rules for details.