Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A care package checklist for women soldiers; Gone but not forgotten

*In collaboration with Helen Moser, a retired Naval veteran of many years. An avid blogger, she enjoys giving tips to those serving today. Look for her articles on a variety of blog sites. 

Females face special challenges when they’re deployed. Sometimes, we wonder who makes the checklist for these soldiers because they’re often lacking in basic items that most women need or want. If you want to show your support, consider these items - it may seem like common sense, but many female soldiers don’t have access to them.


Tampons

How does this get overlooked? We may never know. But, in some cases, all women have access to are “sanitary pads.” These aren’t your usual maxis, either. So, if you want to help out, send tampons. It seems so simple, but it will be a guaranteed hit. 

Gifts

Christmas is right around the corner, and many troops won’t be getting gifts this year. It’s so sad. Sometimes, it’s not an oversight on the part of family. Sometimes, it’s because they don’t really have a family to speak of. One organization that’s dedicated to gifts for soldiers is www.soldiersangels.org. You can browse the online store and buy pretty much anything from jackets to ornaments to t-shirts. 

Giving gifts to female soldiers isn’t new, but you might be surprised to learn that female soldiers in the civil war weren’t given gifts. In fact, females in uniform were not only frowned upon, it was prohibited. Women had to disguise themselves to join the army. In those days, there were no communal showers, and so it was more difficult to discover a woman’s identity if she cut her hair and hid the fact that she was a female. 

Today, females are more common in the military, but they still don’t always get the recognition that they deserve. Don’t let them simply survive this Christmas. Send them something that will remind them that others do appreciate them and the work they do. 

Soaps

Good-smelling soaps aren’t high on the list of military “musts.” A soap is a soap as far as the U.S. government is concerned. Sending nice smelling soaps will make just about any woman happy - especially if she misses the femininity that’s often lost while serving. 

Sunblock

Soldiers are sometimes exposed to intense heat and sunshine. And, while moderate sun exposure is beneficial for all individuals, it’s possible to overdo it, especially with fair-skinned females. Women are often shorted on things like sunblock, so this makes an excellent gift. 

Gallon Ziplock Bags

Gallon-sized ziplock bags are an excellent way to keep food fresh and protected. Unfortunately, they’re in short supply. It’s a simple gift, and one that’s often taken for granted state-side. But, it could make all the difference to a soldier. 

Food

Now, it seems weird that the military wouldn’t provide food for soldiers. And, while it does provide MRIs and sometimes even food through Chow Halls and food allowances, quality isn’t really high on the priority list for the military. If you really want to make a soldier’s day, send food - good food. Just make sure that it is: 1) non-perishable and 2) sealed. 

Soldiers tend to throw away homemade goods from strangers because they don’t know what’s in it. If a soldier has an allergy to a particular food, or just doesn’t know who the food came from, they won’t want to take the risk of eating it and getting sick. 

Packaged food items should not be perishable, and this includes items like chocolate, which can melt (even if they don’t technically spoil or perish). Instead, send canned goods (not glass), trail mix, high-quality coffee, canned specialty foods, dehydrated soups and drink mixes, condiments in unbreakable jars or containers, dried meats, candy that won’t melt, Ramen noodles, and other comfort items. 
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