A loved one headed out? Suprise them with Deployment Gifts!
Gifts are always a welcome thing, but perhaps never so much as when they're received by a soldier on deployment. Having tangible proof that home still exists and that there are people there who think of him often and wish him well can make the all the difference to a man plunged into conflict on the far side of the world. The trouble is, gift giving can be difficult work! When it comes to deployment gifts, the considerations don't stop at simply figuring out what the soldier likes. That matters, of course, but the gift-giver must also take the myriad regulatory and logistical considerations inherent to the military into account. Fail to do so, and your soldier might never get their package! Luckily, the following items are tried and true examples of great military deployment gifts. Keep reading to see if your soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine might like one in their next care package!
Knives are steeped in warrior tradition, and as such, make great military gifts. Indeed, some units still use them in combat, but even if your intended recipient doesn't, they may still find value in a knife - they make great collectors' items, after all. Specialty magazines, "big box" retailers like Amazon, and trade shows or military surplus outlets are great places to find a good gift knife, especially if your soldier's taste tends toward the vintage or exotic. A word of caution, however: Knives are weapons, and as such, both domestic / civil and military shipping agents may refuse to ship them. The ones that will can be counted on to place heavy restrictions upon size, blade length and/or type, and so forth. This is in addition to any unit, branch, or other military-specific red tape you and your soldier may encounter. In summation, knives do make great military-themed gifts, but unless it's truly important that the recipient gets one while deployed, they're perhaps best given as a homecoming present.
Multi-tools are the quintessential gift for the outdoorsman. The original and best-known multi-tool, the venerable Swiss Army Knife, even has "army" right there in the name! Unlike simple knives, these gadgets are classified as tools rather than weapons, making them far easier to buy and ship through hassle-free channels. Sporting goods stores or outlets specializing in tradecraft are good places to look for quality items, as are sites like Amazon.com, provided you know what you're looking for. In cases like this, going with the name brands is probably the best course of action - Leatherman is a good starting point, for instance. Any quality multi-tool will have several blades, screwdrivers, and other tools (as befits their name and function), but they may also come with compasses, silverware, and other such devices. After all, the point of a multi-tool is to empower the user to do a little bit of everything, from tightening a bolt or screw to sewing a tear in a jacket's lining to shaving and trimming his nails. Given the expected degree of routine - and often rigorous - use, a decent manufacturer's warranty should come standard.
Your soldier should have no issues when it comes to getting one of these as a gift in his next care package, but as always, check the regulations. Better safe than sorry!
The greatest military minds in human history have made it a practice to keep a journal, both in civil life and while on campaign - help your soldier join the tradition! It has been said that war is long stretches of boredom coupled with intense bouts of chaos. That's probably as apt a description as any, so make sure to remind your soldier that keeping a journal is a great way for them to blow off some steam! They don't need to be Shakespeare or Caesar to keep a journal, they just need to put pen to paper and write. Thoughts and feelings, poems and pictures, raunchy jokes and stories, camp gossip, even thoughts of or clippings from home - the specific content is largely irrelevant. The point is to have an outlet for one's thoughts, impressions, and emotions. No one else ever has to read it - this is as personal a gift as a person can receive, and, if your soldier is the literary type, you may remind him that many a deployment-era journal has formed the basis for later memoirs.
A finely made journal can be picked up at almost any store of repute, and can be found in a wide variety of sizes and types. For instance, a book-sized sheaf of heavy paper wrapped by leather binding and covers is the traditional approach, but there are a ton of other options, including military themed ones.
LETTERS, NOTES, AND RELATED MISCELLANY FROM HOME
Of all the gifts a person can give to a soldier on deployment, the letter from home is the crown jewel. Food, cash, DVDs, or anything else you can think of, it doesn't matter - as far as a soldier is concerned, it all pales in comparison to a few folded sheets of paper from the people who love and miss him the most. When it comes to crafting the right letter to a soldier on deployment, no one can really tell you how to do it - that's as personal a thing as the letter itself. Still, here are some pointers:
Keep it as light as possible! The target vibe is carefree and warm.
Use lots of inside jokes, family stories (current is best, but past is cool too), and hometown goings-on, the better to help your soldier feel as if he's back home with his loved ones.
Send pictures! Pictures of family (including risqué ones, if the situation is right), friends, pets, and so on can be a real morale booster.
The above are just a few guiding suggestions, but the field is really very open. The goal, though, is to bring your soldier home with the contents of your letters, even if it's only for a few minutes. Bear that in mind, and all will be well.
Giving gifts can be hard, especially when your recipient is away on deployment. Luckily for all concerned, you don't have to go it alone anymore! In fact, this guide should make your soldier's deployment gifts the envy of his entire unit. Have fun, and happy shopping!