I’m not here to take issue with mat catastrophe's position on whether to support the troops or not. I’m also not going to try and rebut all of the points that he makes but since I’ve got a friend on the front lines, well, I feel like I just gotta say something.

Sure, it’s an all volunteer military but to call it taking up a “career in killing” is going way overboard. Most of the kids who enlist are fresh out of high school and have few, if any, real job prospects staring them in the face. Most of them don’t take up a “career” and become lifers, they enlist anywhere from two to four years to save up some money for college and to get some training and in some cases, some much needed discipline. After that, it’s back out to the real world. To make a general statement that they “willingly left hearth and home” really doesn’t tell the whole story. But then again, I suppose nothing would. Each person enlists for reasons of their own but being a former Marine myself, I don’t know any dogface, squid, flyboy or jarhead that wanted to or looked forward to going to war. It just ain’t so.

On a more practical note, there is something you can do to support the men and women who find themselves overseas and it involves more than sticking a bumper sticker on your car or waving flags and beating your chest. Anybody stuck in a combat situation would tell you that stuff don’t mean shit when the bullets are whizzing by your head and mortars are falling down like rain. What you can do is this.

If you’ve seen any interview with a soldier, I’m willing to bet that most of the time when asked for their thoughts, their first thought is going to be one of home. Of family, friends and loved ones. I don’t think they’d say that they can’t wait for tomorrow to come so that they can go out and kill someone.

No, the vast majority of them just want to come home. But, since they can’t do that unless they get killed or injured (no small price to pay there) or their tour of duty is up, you can send them a piece of home or something to make their lives a little easier. Besides the smiles it brings to their faces to let them know that they aren’t forgotten, there are some much needed things that the military just doesn’t provide.

What to put in your care package.

What follows is a grocery list of suggestions on what the folks in the field might desire to make their lives a little more comfortable. Naturally these are just suggestions and depending on the wants and needs are subject to change.


Anybody who has been in the service of Uncle Sam would tell you that most of the time, the food sucks. Even though that’s the case, you usually don’t have enough of it anyway. A couple of treats go a long way in making a soldiers day just a little easier.

Instant coffee
Powdered Gatorade
Tea bags
Slim Jim’s
Candy – not chocolate, it melts too easy
Bubble Gum
Beef Jerky
Instant soup
Granola bars
Dried fruit
Canned tuna fish
Packages of condiments
Tabasco Sauce

Practical stuff

Believe it or not, most of this stuff is not included on Uncle Sam’s shopping list but certainly comes in handy if you want to live like a human being. Since most of these folks don’t get to shower on a daily basis, they can get to stinkin’ pretty quick.

Clorox wipes
Baby wipes
Mouth wash
Sun block
Cotton balls
Eye drops
Breath mints
Baby powder
Skin lotion

Assorted other goodies

Most soldiers will tell you that a lot of the things they do involve hurrying up and waiting. Boredom often sets in and the days can grow tedious. To try and relieve that, here are some suggestions to help them pass the time.

Paperback books
Disposable camera
Hackie Sack
Playing cards
A journal
Pictures from home
Walkman or something similar
Hand held games

In closing, there’s nothing like a letter from home to brighten a soldier’s day. Believe me, the vast majority of them don’t want to be where they are but since they were the ones who signed on the dotted line, they lived up to their responsibilities.

It’s hard not to admire a person for doing that.

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