Many of us have family members who are serving in the military and are stationed away from family, across the country and around the world. We are proud of those serving in the different branches of the armed services but we miss them and want to be able to celebrate the special moments with these family members. But how? I have several family members who are serving in different branches of the military at different stages in their military careers. I’ve learned a few things and talked to some parents and spouses so I can share a few ways to help us know what to send and how to connect.
How to Connect with Military Family Members
One of the most basic ways to stay connected with military family members is to write. While one of my family members was in the first stages of his military career he was disconnected from all social media and could only receive letters. So we wrote! All of us wrote letters on a regular basis.
Remember that there may be someone in the same unit as your family member who may not get any letters. If you become aware of this situation, see if you can send them a letter. There is nothing like the feeling of having your name called and receiving a letter addressed to you!
Things to remember about written letters:
- Stay positive. This is not the time to write about how much you miss them, how bad things are in politics or how everyone back home is getting sick. Letters should be full of love and good things. Talk about how proud you are of them. Tell them you love them and are so excited to hear all about their journey. Reaffirm their decision to join the military. Focus on the good!
- Keep them current. Since some branches of the military do limit media exposure during the first few months, you might be the only connection to what is happening with their favorite sports team, band or movie series. Share the highlights from the entertainment world if you know this is something they enjoy following.
- Share a verse, joke, motivational quote or drawing. Some people love to share a silly joke, Bible verse or motivational quote in their letters. Others like to draw or sketch something in the card. Depending on your relationship with your recruit or military member, this might be something you can add to the back of your letter. You just never know when something like this might be the thing that they hang on to when the days get tough and the nights get hard.
At some point in their military career, it will be time to receive packages. Remember that each branch has its own regulations about packages, so check before you send! Once you get approval to send care packages, it’s time to get creative (and pack smart).
I will never forget when one of my family members was stationed overseas. I had the bright idea to send him all the toiletry items that he was needing. When he got the box, everything had spilled and made a huge mess. Though he appreciated the thought, it was a mess and most of the package had to be trashed.
Ideas for care packages:
- Pack things that won’t melt, break or spill. If you have anything that might leak, pack those items in Ziploc baggies.
- Think about entertainment. Although our military members are often up before dawn and working till long in to the night, there are going to be down times. Rook, playing cards or a crossword puzzle book could be a way to offer some entertainment options in the down time. (Don’t forget to send a pack of lead pencils along with the package).
- Cleaning Supplies: Since members of the military are often responsible for keeping their own quarters clean, a pack of disinfectant wipes, bottle of air freshener or cleaning cloths are great options.
Think outside the box
If you are really feeling creative, let your imagination go a little nuts and think of ways to connect your family members to the holidays and special events.
- Easter Eggs: Could you fill a box with plastic Easter Eggs and put candies, notes or money inside each egg?
- Birthday Cake (kind of): One wife wanted to help her military husband celebrate with a birthday cake and figured out a way to send a (kind of) birthday cake. You could bake a large cookie and decorate it with a birthday message. If that’s not feasible, then how about birthday cake flavored OREO cookies or jelly beans?
- Birthday Decorations: Use confetti, streamers or balloons to fill a box instead of tissue paper or plastic bags.
When our military men and women are serving, we are proud and want to show them our support and love! What are some other ideas for connecting with members of the military while they are away?
Ship a package from Amazon
In a time crunch and not able to send a package yourself? Did you know you can order a care package to be sent directly from Amazon? Talk about easy! Just click on the link and ship direct!
Looking for more ideas and ways to help military families in crisis? Check out these tips for helping the Fisher House!