I am first and foremost an Army wife.
I won’t be caught dead with the “Half of my heart is in Afghanistan” stickers or “Army Wife: the hardest job in the military” shirts. I am not corny and I do not under any circumstances believe that being a military wife is harder than being the soldier.
My husband has been home from Afghanistan for exactly 19 months, and I do count. I count every month that I have him home because those are the months that I know he’s safe. He’s done jobs of knocking on doors of drug dealers and arresting men who have hurt their wives, but those days I never worried. What is the worse that can happen to him? The man survived IUD’s and bombings and horrific things.
I did not have the kids while he was deployed so I was essentially living a single persons life while being committed to someone deployed. That’s probably the hardest thing. No one understood what I was going through and all my friends wanted me to party like I use to. After a frat party and explaining to Justin why I was hung over on Skype and where I was, my party days were over. I drank with friends, but I haven’t really gone out and PARTIED since that day.
But just because my husband is home does not mean that deployments are in my past. Hopefully Justin keeps the job he has and we won’t have deployments in our future. But, I have friends over there. His friends will eventually be heading back over there. It is scary.
My friend Linda is over there currently. The kids and I have written a letter and made pictures. We will be sending a box about once a month. She has it pretty nice compared to most, but still you never stop worrying. All it takes is one bad plane ride home. She’s one of my few friends from high school that Justin has met. Justin is really fond of her, she is hilarious! We haven’t really hung out a lot because of our lives went different directions, but I would be crushed if anything ever happened to her. She is dear to me.
So if you have someone deployed, or want to send a box here are my 5 hints:
1. If you know them ask what they want
They probably won’t give you a long list. While my husband was deployed he would ask for one or two things per box. Once he wanted the AXE loofah because they were always sold out on base.
2. Anything that is liquid or chocolate or melt-able or greasy, put in a separate bag.
If you are sending anything at all that you think could leak, I don’t care if it’s M&M’s, hand sanitize liquid, or beef jerky, just put it in a separate bag. There is nothing worse than something leaking over the rest of the box. I personally never had this issue because I just invested in gallon bags.
3. Throw something fun in there
There is only so many wet wipes, candy, stuffed animals, and pictures a soldier can get before they get tired of it. I would throw a comic book in or a magazine. Just something to freshen it up. BUT the one thing Justin still talks about are dollar store Army men that I bought as a box filler. They were a dollar and looked fun. He sent me pictures of the guys playing with them. They apparently had a battle in the office with them. I also sent silly putty which got taken away because they started throwing it. If you think that it’ll become a throwing device, maybe you shouldn’t send it. SO much of deployments are serious and worry, a fun random thing relieves stress.
4. Do NOT write everything in the box on the label
Surprisingly Justin was not the first soldier I sent stuff to while deployed. He was not my first rodeo. My only boyfriend deployed, but not my first box receivership. I don’t know if that’s the right word. Do NOT put on there that you are sending an iPod. Sometimes boxes get opened and raided before they arrive at their destination. The first time I ever sent a box some of the sweets that I sent never arrived. They were not happy to say the least.
5. NEVER SEND BAD NEWS BY MAIL
I hate those wives and girlfriends that break up by snail mail. That means they knew about the break up and ended it about a week before they informed the soldier. I really HATE those wives that send divorce papers by mail. I mean come on. Divorce during a deployment is stupid. You are already separated and he earns extra money for having a family back home. Why can’t you wait until he’s home? I had my issues while Justin was deployed. I mean, I found out he was “friendly” with another girl while over there, but I waited until he was on a plane back home before I told him to take a hike. We obviously repaired our relationship, but I waited. The respect that I gave him really reflected what type of person I was to him and his family. No one was upset with me when I ended it because I didn’t break up with him in a shitty way. We actually broke up really nicely. Probably a little too nicely if we are married now lol. I had to send enough bad news to him over Skype and Email because of what was going on with his kids and custody issues, so I would have never sent it by snail mail.
If you don’t know someone deployed, then adopt a soldier, I will help you find a soldier. Sending something to those people over there is one of the easiest things you can do to give back. Who knows how much that means to them. Just a letter, or a box. It takes 30 minutes out of your day and about 15 bucks to send a box overseas.
Deployments are not going anywhere for soldiers anytime soon, meaning they are not going anywhere for me.