Deployed Decisions: Care Packages For 'Over There'

posted on December 12, 2013

Photo by Cpl. Mark Doran and courtesy of the Department of Defense. 

Thousands still stand on the front line of Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq-including my oldest grandson. If you have a loved one deployed in the Sandbox, you know how hard it is to find the right gift. You don’t want to send anything they’ll have trouble bringing back after deployment, and to make the decision even more tough, today’s military provides a pretty good supply of the necessities and even sundries considered a front-line luxury not many years ago.

We shipped a pair of boxes to our grandson last week. Probably early, I know, but good insurance he’ll receive something by Dec. 25. Another goes out later this week. In our case, the packages contained mostly food. Forward operating bases don’t have the luxury of a PX.

It’s hard to go wrong with jerky. It keeps forever, doesn’t take up much room and thwarts hunger pains conveniently-even on guard duty. There are plenty of options out there, but about a year ago I received samples of this Outdoorsman Jerky and never even got a chance to give it a try. The grandsons, including the one currently deployed, sucked my supply dry in one afternoon. It’s good stuff, much better (according to the trio of samplers) than what you find at the grocery store. The fact it comes from a company with a pro-gun stance makes it even better. I went with the black pepper flavor, saved the hard-plastic container for myself and fill a package’s empty corners with the savory treats.

Headlamps get used in the Sandbox and the dime-store variety doesn’t last. My oldest grandson has been using SureFire, and claims it’s better than anything out there. Take a close look at the Maximus if a deployed loved one needs a better-than-issue lighting source.

It’s cold over there right now, one reason why I also made sure (before he left, in this case) he had one of these Mountain Hardware hats. It’s the warmest thing I’ve ever worn, and it’s nice to know when my grandson crawls into his sleeping bag he can don this hat if needed. The company may cater primarily to climbers, but the things it’s quietly done for members of SOCOM and its charity work make it one of my favorites.

Knives are a good choice, but be careful. Those in uniform are picky-rightfully so, since their knives don’t spend much time collecting dust in a drawer. I made sure my grandson got something he liked, and would never have guessed he preferred the somewhat unconventional shape of the Blackhawk Garra II’s blade.

It’s a far different situation than when my brother was in Vietnam, where canned mandarin oranges and fruit cocktail were prized package contents. One thing is the same, though. This holiday season our troops will still be standing guard, miles away from family and friends, protecting this great nation and each and every one of us who call it home. If you have some gift ideas for those deployed, share them in the comments section-I know for a fact there are a lot of families that will appreciate the help.


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