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Dealing with Deployment // Care Packages

Mail call is a big deal for military members of all branches who are serving our nation far from home. It is also quite an operation — just check out this video from my husband’s ship, the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77).

Mail Call

Everyone loves #mailcall!!! #Deployment2017 #FreedomAtWork

Posted by USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on Friday, June 23, 2017

 

Filling a box with familiar comforts and sweet notes is a terrific morale booster, and so I pledged to send at least one care package a month while my husband is deployed. Here are a few tips from my experience that will hopefully save you time and avoid hassles at the post office.

{tip 1}  Order priority mailing supplies from USPS for free.

The U.S. Postal Service created a military care kit comprised of common packaging supplies needed to send care packages to military members. The kit is provided free of cost and is conveniently delivered to your front door. Just call 1-800-610-8734 to order your kit.

USPS military care kit. Boost morale, save time and avoid hassles with these tips for sending military care packages.

The kit includes: (2) large flat rate boxes, (4) medium flat rate boxes, (6) shipping labels, (6) customs form envelopes and a roll of priority mail tape. It does not contain customs forms so you’ll still need to pick up a handful at your local post office.

{tip 2}  Wrap used cardboard boxes in brown kraft paper.

While flat rate boxes are easy and convenient, you can certainly reuse old cardboard boxes. When re-using a box, be aware of size and weight restrictions imposed by USPS as well as your service member’s military unit. You’ll need to completely blot out any markings on the outside of the box, but I recommend wrapping it in brown kraft paper for a clean, seamless package.

{tip 3}  Fill out customs forms ahead of time.

While FPO/APO addresses are billed at domestic rates, they still require a customs form. Prepare one form per box — listing the items inside and their commercial value — before heading to the post office.

Here are samples of how to complete both types of customs forms. As of this writing, you can use the shorter one (top) to send flat rate packages.

How to fill out customs forms. Boost morale, save time and avoid hassles with these tips for sending military care packages.

{tip 4}  Pack appropriately.

Your package is sent priority mail from your local post office to the port where it’s picked up for military transport. After that point, it moves by the needs of the military and could be delayed in reaching its destination. It will likely be handled often and may even traverse extreme climate so keep these things in mind when you’re packing and sealing a box for your loved one.

Before packing, find out what items cannot be shipped at all (e.g., aerosols) and if there are any restrictions given by the military unit or region in which your service member is deployed (e.g., pork or pork by-products). Then focus on packing items that are useful to your service member, can be shared with fellow sailors/soldiers/airmen/marines, can be given away to local children during community relations events (COMREL) or are just special treats.

Click HERE to download and print this list of possible items to include in military care packages:

List of what to include. Boost morale, save time and avoid hassles with these tips for sending military care packages.

In every package, be sure to include reminders of home. Whether that’s a quick handwritten note or drawings done by your children, your service member will be most comforted by these little momentos.

{tip 5}  Have some fun and decorate!

This might be the best tip of all because you get to show your creative side and make your packages extra special for your service member. Create themed boxes by tying in holidays, birthday, interests or packaged items. Supplies are simple: construction paper, stencils, stickers, markers and tissue paper. My kids got involved by decorating a flap and enclosing artwork and crafts.

I wish I could have created a contraption to spit out glitter and confetti upon opening like Poppy’s invitations in the movie, Trolls, but alas this is all I was able to come up with:

Boost morale, save time and avoid hassles with these tips for sending military care packages.

“We are lucky to have you. Daddy!” was our St. Patrick’s box.

Boost morale, save time and avoid hassles with these tips for sending military care packages.

Father’s Day featured “Best Dad Ever” with our kids’ current interests {My Little Pony and dinosaurs} and recent photos. My creative contribution was this little footprint gem.

Boost morale, save time and avoid hassles with these tips for sending military care packages.

This box of goodies was put together for the junior sailors in my husband’s shop as a small “thank you for your service.”

Boost morale, save time and avoid hassles with these tips for sending military care packages.

And this box was his final care package — sent especially from me.

Boost morale, save time and avoid hassles with these tips for sending military care packages.

I didn’t decorate all of the packages; some went out plain Jane. I believe the more important part is to let your service members know they are loved and missed. I found the act of putting these packages together made me feel a little closer to my Chief and provided a small way to express my support of his military service, too.

For ways to get involved with sending care packages to deployed service members, please check out these non-profit organizations.

For more on the deployment series, please check out these posts:
Dealing with Deployment // Kids Activities
Dealing with Deployment // Homecoming
Thank you for reading and supporting our troops! — v.

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2 Responses to Dealing with Deployment // Care Packages

  1. Chief July 25, 2017 at 4:43 AM #

    As the recipient of these boxes of treats and notes of love, I can say first hand how much they are a tremendous help in getting through an arduous deployment. A lot of communication with home while on a deployment happens through e-mail and the few and far between phone calls, but no form of connection beats that which is transmitted through a care package.

    Thanks Babes, you’ve certainly outdone yourself and I appreciate all the hard work you do as a Navy Wife to hold down the fort, keep the home fire burning, and making time to send these wonderful boxes of joy my way.

    • v. October 2, 2017 at 1:01 PM #

      It’s just my little way of saying I got your back, Babes. Love you and thank you for all you do for our family.

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