Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Red, Hot & Blue GUEST POST

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Joint Forces Camp Lemonier in Djibouti 
Special Guest Post
DEDICATED TO THE TROOPS 
THIS FOURTH OF JULY

Thank you to the lovely Ndulgent Bloggers for inviting me 
to be the guest author for the Fourth of July to discuss my experiences with and tips for supporting the troops.



I started sending care packages and corresponding with deployed members of the military in October of 2006. I was (and still am) writing military romance and though it wasn’t my intent when I began sending things, I found the troops gave back to me twice what I sent to them, in the form of their thanks, photos, inspiration, and even story ideas.

Since it’s a holiday and everyone will have barbecues and fireworks to go to, I’ll keep it nice and simple with a few short bullet points below to get you started, with the disclaimer that I am not an expert, but I have learned a lot over the past six years.

Have a safe and fun holiday and don’t forget to remember those who serve.
Cat Johnson


TROOP SUPPORT 101
  • Join a reputable 501(c)(3) not-for-profit troop support site. I have personal experience with BooksForSoldiers.com and with AnySoldier.com. At both sites you will find requests from active service members. And on Books For Soldiers you’ll find other supporters offering tips and their own experiences in the forum. I also like that Books For Soldiers volunteers post what has already been sent to avoid duplicating efforts. 
  • Send what they ask for! Sending feminine hygiene products and Glamour magazines to an all male unit does no one any good. Every unit’s needs are different and the needs are ever changing. Soldiers have requested everything from enough rubber shower shoes for the entire unit because they wore through theirs walking to the shower trailer and had no way to get more at the FOB, to hot sauce to flavor the “meat patty” they were fed every day of the deployment. What they need/want depends upon the season, location, availability of supplies, demographic makeup of the unit themselves, so many factors you can’t begin to guess what they’ll need, so just ask or fulfill a recently posted request. I say recent because things change AND addresses can change, so you might want to email and check if the request you want to fill is older. 
  • Use common sense. For instance, sending chocolate to the troops during the heat of the summer would be bad…and very messy. I’ve been told mixing something scented (such as room fresheners or soap) will make the food it’s packed in the box with (such as beef jerky) taste bad, no matter how well you wrapped it. ALSO know the rules. Porn (such as Playboy Magazine) is a no-no for the military. There are rules about sending pressurized containers (such as aerosol bug spray) through the US Postal Service. Check before you ship. 
  • That said, letters, cards and postcards are always welcome. As are children’s drawings and any show of support from home. They just want to know they haven’t been forgotten.

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