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An Emotional Day, A Good Day

Today, my daughters Laura, Mary and I, had the privelege of welcoming  home Laura’s fiance Brandon’s unit from the 101st Airborne from Ft Campbell from a 14 month deployment in Iraq. 

We arose at 3:00 am to be at the parking lot at 5:00 am and then we were bussed to the welcome home hanger.  The unit was scheduled to arrive in Kentucky at 7:00 am, and I have to say the wind chill at that early hour feels much colder than our typical Colorado morning weather despite the layers of hoodies, jackets, gloves, hats etc I had put on.  IT WAS FREEZING.

 Finally, out of nowhere, a commercial jet landed in front of the hanger, taxied out of site down the runway and then back in front of the hanger.  Soon the soldiers began to deplane single file with rifles, helmets, back packs and  other gear  after days of waiting in Baghdad for departure to Kuwait and many rescheduled arrival times.  

After they walked over to the hanger,  the soldiers  laid their gear on the tarmac in front of the hangar and prepared to get in formation to march into the hanger for the Welcome Home ceremonies.  The families were notified to return to the hanger bleachers for welcoming ceremonies.  After families returned to the bleachers, the unit marched into the hanger in formation for a welcome from the general, the Flying Eagles song, the Army song and AT LAST, were able to break ranks for 20 minutes to greet their loved ones.  Then back into formation, marched back out of the hanger to complete return of their weapons and other administrative functions, and at last had the rest of the day to enjoy their loved ones.

After weeks of waiting, numerous arrival date changes, a 1300 plus mile car trip from Colorado to Ft Campbell just ahead of a snow storm, and so much anticipation for this special day, I arrived at the ceremonies very emotional.  I realized I had just had my baptism into Army Life and I wasn’t well prepared.  I will soon be saying Good-bye to Laura and Brandon, after their wedding on January 3.  Heavy on my heart is knowing my son Stephen, an army ROTC cadet will soon be following this difficult yet heroic path.

Many army moms and wives will know a bit of the emotion I experienced.  But readers, I have to tell you, until you experience these welcome home ceremonies you can not imagine or begin to appreciate the sacrifices and stresses of the deployments and what a toll it takes on family life nor the pride you can feel in seeing just a small group of the armed forces.

There were quite a few soldiers who had no family to welcome them home after all they have been through.  It broke my heart to see men in groups without family to greet them. God spoke very loudly to my heart saying, “You can get out on that floor and personally thank  and welcome home some soldiers who don’t have any families around to them.”  Obediently, I  to shook hands with many soldiers and thanked them.  I wish I could have done it without a few tears. 

In rural Paonia, I have been well insulated from the real world! 

I don’t think we in our everyday lives think about how much has been sacrificed for us.  I wish I knew
more tangible ways to reach out.  If you have some ideas, please share them with me and others at this blog for a complimentary copy of my Holiday Open House ebook, a $6.97 value.

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34 comments to An Emotional Day, A Good Day

  • My hubby was part of the 101st Airborne in Viet Nam… good men, all of them.

    A friend just sent me this message and address in an e-mail. They are asking for Christmas cards to be sent to the following soldiers:

    When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, please include the following:

    A Recovering American Soldier
    c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
    6900 Georgia Avenue,NW
    Washington,D.C. 20307-5001

  • Crystal Zecher

    We felt as you did. How do you support the troops OTHER than the bumper sticker on our car? There was a young couple in our Church that was expecting their first baby and her husband was in Afganistan, We confidentially raised money to buy them a video camera, a nice bag and tapes. 19 people contibuted, including many children with their hard earned little bit of money. We included a letter thanking them both for their sacrifices for us and signed it “19 Friends” Her mom said she had a wonderful time recording the first 10 months of her son’s life that her Husband missed. It did not replace that time, but gave her a fun project and all of us the ability to say thank you. This couple was very proud and felt called to serve our country, by being confidential it let them keep their pride, I was so humbled by this young mom’s strength she never once complained. I was touch and honored by how many of the peolpe in our church who did not even know her came forward with a contribution. Someone else gave a young military mom a grocery gift card. I know it would be wonderful to give to each one but if we all find one person as you did speaking to the soliders who were alone, maybe we could thank all of those who serve.

  • Marcie Pennington

    My husband served in the Navy, our nephew just returned from Iraq, best friend from high school’s husband just arrived in Iraq. We are so proud of those who serve our country. We contacted the VFW in the town we recently moved to. They were happy to have someone interested in helping the troops! We also send little goodies to the families, because we believe they sacrifice, too. While our nephew was in Iraq, we sent packages to him and asked if there were anyone that he knew of that was not receiving blessings from home. Praying everyday for our soldiers and their families is what we do best!

  • Rachael Wear

    I know Sears has a program this year, Heroes at Home where you can contribute money and it’s divided between 29,333 families whose spouses are deployed overseas.
    I am a military wife. Thankfully my husband is in the rare career field where he doesn’t deploy. That said I do have a lot of friends whose husbands do deploy. If you are near to a military base there are programs through the chapels that reach out to the single soldiers especially during the holidays. Our chapel is gathering donated cookies to take to the dorms this week.
    If you know someone whose spouse is deployed, one of the best things you can do is just hang out with them, help with the kids especially is mom gets sick. Or help with the other kids if one is sick and has doctor’s appointments. Recently a friends husband was deployed and a couple of us whose husbands were home would go hang out with her about once a week once all our kids were in bed. She has four girls and just being there gave her support while her husband was gone.
    Another way is Commissary gift certificates, you can get more information here. http://www.commissaries.com/certificheck/index.cfm
    As you probably know, military members don’t make much money. I saw your son-in-law-to-be is a specialist. So groceries are always helpful and needed.
    Please feel free to e-mail me if you have questions. I may not know, but can probably find out. wearfamily2004@yahoo.com.
    Thanks Marilyn for welcoming those soldiers home who didn’t have anyone waiting on them.

  • Lynda Jost

    I am the daughter of a retired Sr. Chief Petty Officer. I have 3 uncles who served in the military, 2 brothers in law, my father in law was a retired Major, my brother served and now both of our sons are in the Marines. Our family knows first hand what goes along with having a loved one in the military and what it is like to get the phone call that one is injured, shot down, or in trouble in some way. We have spent countless holidays with a member absent as they serve overseas and this year will spend Thanksgiving and Christmas missing one of our sons as he serves in Iraq. The other son is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan shortly after Christmas.

    There are myriad ways to support not only our sons but so many others whose lives are affected by this. We send packages about evey other week with grocery store games – the kind you find in the grocery store like bows and arrows, nerf basketball, dart guns – they LOVE the “little kid” games. We also send baby wipes and dryer sheets – it is sometimes the only thing they have to help clean themselves or make thier clothes at least smell fresh even if not clean.

    We also reccommend to our friends to visit anysoldier.com. You can find guys who are deployed from every branch of the military there. They are good about verifying the guys are truly deployed and still there so we have never had a box come back – no matter what we know a guy in the military serving his country is getting what ever we send.

    And as difficult as this is, the most important thing we do to support our troops is attend the funeral of ANY military person whether we know them personally or not. It is THE most difficult time in the life of their family and the extra support is more than worth the time and effort it takes to be there for them. We ALWAYS stand on the side of the road after the funeral holding flags for the family to see. If someone else doesn’t organize this – take the initiative and do it yourself. It’s the least we can do – to take a couple hours out of our lives – even if it means taking time off work with no pay – to honor the sacrifice they have made for us.

  • My husband, a Marine was with the 26th MEU that went into Afghanistan – he left 11 days post 9/11. He also was in Iraq before the invasion and toilets let alone Burger King. He is still active duty and try as he might he has not been to Iraq in 5 years. Looks like he will be back this time next year. I guess that is background info on my situation. When I say I support the troops I do it in two ways. I am a Key Volunteer with my husband’s unit. When the unit is deployed I call wives with info to help them. Sometimes it is letting them know of a function, other times it might be to keep them abreast of our guy’s situation. Remember when my husband was there communication was virtually non existent. We still have the Key Volunteer network, but it is used much more during deployments. I make food for those who have babies and just normal reaching out you would do to your church family as the Marine Corps is just a big family. I support my husband by being able to run my home. Even though he has not been back to Iraq he has been out of the country and out of state on numerous occasions. When he knows that everything is right on the homefront he doesn’t have to think about it. He knows I can pay the bills, mow the grass, fix the washing machine or anything else that might come up. I have fixed the washer, but my point is he knows I can deal with problems without going to pieces. It is vitally important for the military members to be able to forget the problems at home so they can deal with the problems around them. It may be life or death.

    Enough said. I enjoy your site and have been greatly blessed.

  • Jeanne Parks

    One of the ways that we have tried to support our troops this year is by sewing Christmas stockings for Operation Santa. My children and I sewed 23 stockings which were to be filled with necessary items, as well as other goodies. The stockings could be made of any fabric and decorated as desired. This effort was sponsored by our county Home, Education, and Community group. We are very involved in 4-H and participate in many community service projects during the year. This particular endeavor was especially rewarding, knowing that perhaps we could give some joy to some our men and women who serve us so faithfully and sacrifice time away from their own families to defend our country.

  • Jeri Mick

    A friend from church who is an army reservist asked for assistance before a school play at a local high school to print and circulate flyers asking attenders to please bring items from the list on the flyer the night of the play. We planned to send items to her friend’s unit in Iraq which has servicemen who have no family support. The response was an unexpectedly huge showing of support for our troops. We sent cases of light weight items of jerkey, Propel water flavors, feminine products, hard candy, gum, wipes, hand santizer, dried fruit, etc. Donations were also received to cover shipping. No out of pocket expenses were incurred; only our time and effort. What a blessing to participate in.
    Jeri Mick 56750 Fairchild Rd. Macomb, MI 48042

  • How about commiting to pray for a soldier everyday. You can “adopt” someone to pray for here:

    http://www.presidentialprayerteam.net/adopt_our_troops_in_prayer.php

    Also, tangible reaching out to Mom’s left behind with children to help, especially during the holidays.

    Blessings,
    Cheri

  • Oops, forgot to say that I’ve been praying for a soldier since 2003. I encourage everyone to do this!

  • Hiya Marilyn!

    I have a heart for our soldiers. I do not take my freedom for granted. In fact, I have respect for those who have fought for our freedoms and those families behind the scenes who have given up a great deal of time with their soldiers so that they can protect our freedoms here in America.

    I set out last spring to honor them any way I know how.

    I started putting links up on my blog to support those overseas and here at home. Buy a cake and the company will send one to a soldier over seas who’s birthday is coming up, so they will have something special for their birthday.

    Send an E-Greeting, support the financing of building a home for a soldier who needs special remodeling so they can live as normal a life possible with their medical needs.

    A weightloss group and myself have been making lap quilts for veterans and I continue to love and care for them the rest of my life through prayer and a hand of compassion.

    We are looking for a home of our own to purchase and my hope is to get to know my community and seek those families who have loved ones serving and offer our services to take care of their yards and or help around the home with simple fixes or even a babysitter so the wives can go out with their friends and enjoy a free night.

    These men and women who are fighting or have fought bravely need our kindness, our support and our generosity. I take it upon myself to love them as much as I can and be of service to them as they have been to me and my family.

    Rebekah

  • Christina

    Welcome home Brandon, THANK YOU for your service! I have been sewing stockings and gift bags for our local Blue Star Moms organization to fill and send to Iraq/Afganistan, my son and daughter sold Boy Scout Popcorn and Girl Scout cookies and we collected many boxes that we sent to the troops. We also had the kids write lots of cards to send as well. My cousin is in Iraq, and my cousin-in-law is due home next month. Also, our Homemakers group is sponsoring a military family this Christmas and we chose a family with 5 kids, dad is in Iraq (again) and will be gone over Christmas.

    We owe so much to the men and women who serve, I just wish I could do more.

  • Peggy

    Hi Marilyn,

    I think it is wonderful that you and your daughters were there to see Brandon home! It does my heart good to see these soldiers who willing are serving our country being welcomed home in ceremony!! Since my husband is AF security forces (old security police) he has never deployed with a group. He comes home quietly. often times in the middle of the night. Sometimes it has been on a civilian airlines where we could meet him at the airport but as often as not it was on a military flight which required reporting to work prior to coming home. Initially when Chris left there was no form of communication in place aside from sporadic mail service. On his last deployment he was able to call home at will as he was in the control element. We have been blessed as he is no longer in a deployable position!
    One thing that we did is send packages to deployed units to be given out to the troops. These were addressed to no one person in particular but to the unit as a whole. We included jerky, gum, books, card games, gel pens, phone cards, gift cards for AAFES and Barnes & Noble, dried fruit, various candies (especially gummies), and sachets. Our children made cards and stationary to be included. Oddly enough we are now at a remote location where our husbands are considered “deployed” even while at home. We qualify for many perks but try to pass them on to others whom we feel are more deserving as my husband is with us daily and no longer faces the dangers he once did. At present Barnes & Noble is running a program where they are accepting both new and used books to be sent to those who are deployed. Everytime we have an occasion to go to town we try to stop by and drop off a load of books. When I remember I like to enclose a note to say thank you!!! You see, it has not only been as an adult that I remember the seperations but as a child as well when my dad served in Vietnam and then while he was gone on various temporary duty assignments, no matter the length.

    Marilyn, I just want to say thank you to you, Laura, Mary, Stephen, and Brandon’s folks for giving him your loving support! Chris told me once upon arriving home that it was the knowledge that I was lovingly supporting him and standing by him that made the days bearable! He knew he was surrounded by the prayers of his family and church!!

  • Valerie

    My husband is in the Air Force. During deployments, we make sure the spouses left behind are taken care of, like shoveling snow, mowing lawns, inviting them over for holiday dinners, etc. Also, we invite the single airmen over for holiday dinners especially because my husband knows what it is like to be all alone on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We try to be their adoptive family.

    Thank you, Marilyn, for all you do. I really enjoy your products you carry.

  • roosmom

    Your sharing brought back memories of welcoming home my husband in the wee hours of the morning after a 7 month absence. I was reluctant to be a military wife, and given his profession didn’t really expect to face the deployments we did. But I gained so much from that time and met some of the best people in the world. Many years later, they are still dear friends. Our soldiers deserve whatever we can do to honor them. Although we are no longer part of the military community, many dear friends have sent their husbands overseas since then. We have always prayed, sent packages, and whatever other things have come our way. This year as my son sold popcorn for Boy Scouts he received several donations to support military families–I think it was very touching to a VietNam vet friend to be able to contribute that way. We will continue to pray for our soldiers overseas. Thank you for the ideas shared here. And please encourage your daughter–God works it all for good! During those days alone at a fairly new base, far from family, struggling with morning sickness, I learned a lot and now see that God was preparing me for this time in my life. God is faithful in all things!

  • Bridgit Lawson

    I am the proud spouse to a U.S. Army soldier.
    My husband will be “home” for one year December 22, 2008. He is a Chaplain’s Assistant, a career path that he was called to during the last deployment.
    I support all the troops with a lot of prayer, befriending my fellow military spouses, and through a teriffic program called “treats for Troops.”
    I also support “my soldier” by being loyal to him, and keeping his homefire burning.
    ~Bridgit

  • Barb

    Hi, Marilyn! My son will be deployed to Iraq just after your lovely daughter gets married. I am always emotional around him when he’s in uniform and the others in his unit. It will be so very hard to say goodbye and let him go…but I know he’ll be going in God’s care. Lord willing, he will come home to us safely. Emotions run high, don’t they?

    God’s blessings to your daughter and her husband-to-be. They are special people.

  • My nephew is a staff sargeant in the Army and our family has chosen to write to the men in his platoon. He has told us who doesn’t get any mail or have any contact with their family or friends, and we’ve chosen to reach out to them. My dd makes cookies for them and my son (7) draws them pictures. We try to find out when their birthdays are and make sure they are remembered for their special occassions, as dd and I LOVE to make cards.

    We have many opportunities to share the Lord with them, which is truly wonderful and I’m sure we’ve made some friends for life. One young man will be joining us for Thanksgiving as he just got home last week.

  • Shannah

    What a wonderful experience. Having 2 brothers who are in the military and have served in Iraq, we know all too well what the welcome home means! Congratulations to your daughter on her upcoming marriage!
    We are involved in a program called Soldiers Angels right now, since my brothers are both home (for now) so that we can continue to support the men and women who are still serving overseas. Especially during the holiday season, it is difficult for them to be away from their families so we try to support them how we can and pray for them daily.
    HUGS to you and your family!

  • Nancy Dyer

    Marilyn,

    I hope to be in Clarksville this Saturday Nov. 22 to meet my son that is coming home from his long 14 month deployment. This will be my Brandon’s 3rd time over there and this has been a very long and hard tour for him. You are right, it breaks your heart to see the soldiers that do not have family to meet them. Our family went around as you did and thanked them for their service and protection last time Brandon came home. I try to daily thank the Lord for the troops that protect our freedom and ask for their safety.
    My son was also in ROTC in high school.
    Thank you for this blog, the pictures, (this gives me insite on what to excpect for my Brandon’s homecoming) and for the heartfelt message.

    In Christ’s Love,
    Nancy Dyer

  • Angela

    Thank you, Brandon, and God bless you!! I love the 101st…GO SCREAMING EAGLES!! I was born at Fort Campbell and grew up in Clarksville! My daddy was an Army helicopter pilot and flew in Korea during Vietnam and he was in Iraq during Desert Storm. He’s now retired from the Army/Reserves (he’s done both) but still works civil service at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL.

    Last year I started a new tradition. My father and my grandmother (his mother) have everything they could possibly need or want, so I decided to donate to the USO in their names. I specifically picked the calling-home program so that our soldiers could call their families during the holidays. We’re of course a very patriotic military family, so giving back to the soldiers in their names was a big hit with them! They loved it, and we knew on Christmas morning that families were able to talk to their loved ones overseas because of us…it felt great!

    I work at a college residence hall, and we’re collecting goodies for the troops (beef jerky, playing cards, socks). I’m setting aside holiday funds to purchase some items to donate. I’m sure that those little items we take for granted mean so much to our brave men and women overseas, who mean so much to US!

    AKM

  • Thank you for your support for our military! Congrats to the engaged couple, too! My husband was in Iraq with 3rd ID (from Ft Stewart) in 2003 and 2005. Emotions were in range from scared, to happy and crying because of the pride I felt for each soldier!

  • Terry M. Terry

    Thank you Marilyn for great photos and description of the anticipation and arrival ceremony of Brandon and his unit. You have inspired alot of us to do more for the troops and their families. I have contacted the Army’s Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) through the National Guard here in Colorado and look forward to performing whatever services are needed. And I have over a dozen friends and neighbors who want to assist as well! Anyone in Colorado, particularly Colorado Springs, can contact Amy Eagen, Army Transition Assistant Advisor for Colorado at (720) 250-1173 or amy.eagen@us.army.mil to help the wounded, buy toys/food for families that need assistance, and more.

  • Melanie Sunukjian

    Marilyn,

    That brought tears to my eyes – thank you. I actually have no personal ties to the men and women who defend our country, but they have been on my heart more than ever recently. Real Simple magazine had a list of the 8 things that they request most overseas and I thought about how easy it would be to find a personal connection through a friend and send a care package. We’re really trying to deepen our Advent and Christmas season celebration and one of the days that isn’t often celebrated is December 26th: Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s Day. On boxing day, the tradition is to box up things for those in need and St. Stephen’s celebrates the first martyr of the faith. Both seem appropriate for those giving their lives for us overseas and I’m sure it would be a welcome surprise to receive a package after the typical Christmas fanfare is over.

    Thanks again,
    melanie sunukjian

  • Becky Tubbs

    Marilyn,
    I am so glad that he made it back safe and sound! We will be welcoming home my husband at that same Hanger in about 4 weeks! He is apart of the 101st. We’re so excited! This will be our 2nd time to welcome him home at that Hanger. Will be riding those same buses and be just as cold as you were, but it’s all worth it! Just thinking about it is bringing tears of joy to my eyes. You see, we have 5 kids, ages 10, 7, 5, 4 and 10 months and we homeschool too. We sure miss Daddy when he’s gone! The Baby was 3 weeks old when he left and now she’s about to walk! We’ve gone through a lot. It’s made us stronger, not weaker. We would change a thing.
    My plead to your reader is this, for those of you who have your husbands with you every day, please do not take them for grant! You are so blessed to have a husband to welcome home every single day. It’s not something that we will ever again take for grant. Give them big hugs and get the kids excited about Daddy coming home from work! He came home. There have been many soldiers this past year that have not.
    One last thing, if you know of a family that has a deployed father, please get to know them and see what you can do for them to help the family. One HUGE help is mowing there grass in the summer! In the fall it is raking the leaves. Check on their car. Maybe the wife is not getting the oil changed like she should or the tires might need checked out. Think about what her husband might do if he were here to help. For example, his deployment my tub has needed re-claulking and my washer has gone out, my van broke down, just to name a few. In the end you will be blessing the whole family. Don’t you think the soldier on the other side of the world would be more blessed knowing that someone came over and helped take care of his family while he has gone fighting for his country? Those care packages are neat, but it means so much more to them knowing that someone is helping his wife and kids when he can’t. It’s way better than sending him another care package of candy bars and baby wipes.

  • Marilyn,

    I have to thank you as an Army wife for shaking hands and welcoming those who are alone. That means more to them than you know. After surviving 3 deployments (and gearing up for the 4th this spring) I can tell you that it means A LOT to the troops to know they are appreciated and welcomed home. They really look forward to coming home when they get down to the last few weeks/days over there. They all have their lists of things they want to do/eat when they get home. Many of us wives/spouses try to remember to welcome everyone home, but truthfully we have eyes only for OUR loved one. Its been sooo long and we missed them sooo much! Thank you for taking the time to greet those who had nobody waiting for them.

    Being connected with the military is definitely a whole different ball game than civilian life. You will learn much and meet some really great people as time goes on with your son and soon to be son-in-law. I will keep your family in my prayers during this holiday season.

    Blessings
    Melody

  • Cameron H

    I think this is a wonderful way to offer a small thanks to our troops. When doing your Christmas cards this year, take one card and send it to the following address. Often times, we civilians want to offer our thanks but don’t know ways to go about doing it. This is one way we can thank at least one soldier and his/her family who have sacrificed so much!

    When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, please include the following:
    A Recovering American Soldier
    c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
    6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
    Washington , D.C. 20307-5001

  • Lyn

    When my first husband was in the Navy, we would often invite some of the single men over for a meal, or we would invite them to be a part of the holidays with us. Even the smallest gestures can mean so much to those who have no family nearby. I think having some type of fellowship can make a real difference and can lessen the loneliness.

  • admin

    Here is the list of eight of the most appreciated/popular items you can send soldiers in Iraq:

    Letters, nutrition bars, ground coffee, flavor packetsfor water, DVDs and CDs, AT & T global calling cards, personal-hygiene supplies, and blank cards to send to their loved ones. They suggested the website http://www.soldiersangels.org to give.

    Thanks,
    melanie

  • Barbara

    Honestly Marilyn…which one is you?? I haven’t seen a picture of you before but aren’t those pictures of 3 YOUNG ladies, no mom in the picture?
    I’m being serious…I can’t tell which is the mom. You look great!! whichever one you are!

  • Dear Marilyn,

    Welcome to “the family”! It’s not always easy, but the benefits far outweigh the trials. I grew up an Army brat and married back into it; all of the men in my family have served in either the Army or the Navy.

    It is AWESOME that you were able to be at the welcoming ceremonies, and I’m sure your future son-in-law appreciated that you reached out to other soldiers, rather than feeling that you should stick with only the person you know. Believe me, it warmed those folks’ hearts and I hope that someone will be at my brother’s duty station when he returns from his tours if I’m not in town. (He is stationed in the state I call home, but I have left there due to my husband’s new duty station – we were able to meet up this past weekend while I was in the States but I most likely won’t be Stateside when he returns.)

    Anywho – others have mentioned helping with groceries. You can do that by purchasing gift checks online at http://www.commissaries.com – if a reader doesn’t have a family member or friend to help out, there are options for helping other folks via DeCA (Defense Commissary Agency).

    Any person, military or civilian, can now purchase gift cards and gift certificates to the AAFES website as well. http://www.aafes.com This is a great option for family members who are serving overseas as we don’t have a Target or a Sears right down the road, but most of us have a Shoppette (like a 7/11) or a PX/BX (kinda like Target, but smaller LOL). We have let our families know that these two options are best now that we are overseas as opposed to Stateside where we could hit the local mall or our favorite stores.

    Please let your readers know that if a service member is stationed at an APO/FPO address, there are quite a few stores that will ship here – but there are just as many who will NOT ship here. Mail must come via the US Postal Service, so anyone who does FedEx and UPS deliveries won’t ship here as they consider us to be PO Boxes (unless you can get them to ship directly to a unit address with no box numbers). FYI, Amazon.com will normally ship to APOs, but some of their 3rd party vendors will NOT, so most folks welcome Amazon gift cards as well. Just remember that all gifts and care packages must go through customs, especially in Japan and other places that have restrictions on medication, herbal products, and weapons (or anything they consider to be weapons).

    Just a few tips to help you get started. :-)

    Additionally(I guess I should have turned this into a blog post on my own blog – oops!) PLEASE let your readers know that the military has just made a change to mail systems for Walter Reed hospital. They just announced that mail addressed to “any recovering military member”, etc WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. So you need to have a specific service member to write to. It can be a bummer when you want to help, but let folks know that this is a safety issue for the soldiers and families there, just as much as it is an administrative streamline.

    Last thing (I promise!) is that coupons are always helpful to those of us stationed overseas. They are handy for any military family trying to cut costs, of course, but since we don’t get the Sunday paper with the coupon inserts, it’s very helpful to have coupons sent over. Military families who are OCONUS (outside the continental United States) are authorized to use coupons in commissaries for up to SIX MONTHS past the expiration date on the coupons, due to the time it takes to get them here. So save your expired coupons up and send them to an organization that will pass them on to families who will gladly put them to use. :-) When we moved here ACS (Army Community Services) gave an orientation seminar and handed each new arrival an envelope PACKED with coupons. I went through them and then handed them over to a neighbor, then a friend from the unit, and ultimately took the leftovers back to ACS to be handed to another family to sort through. Coupons can go far and benefit many families. Check with your local post office for the small customs form that is necessary for mailing envelopes of coupons.

    Best wishes and again, welcome to the “family”. 😉

    Melonie @ Momma & More

    PS When sending care packages overseas, be sure to ask your USPS branch for the freebie one rate priority boxes that are especially for shipping to military members via the America Supports You program. They have bigger boxes that ship at the same rate as the smaller civilian boxes. My folks have made good use of them. LOL

  • Jayne Hazlip

    Please let Brandon know our family is very thankful for his service to our great nation and sacrifice of time with family to help protect us all. What a blessing he and all the men and women are – they are truly great Patriots!

    Also, thanks to Stephen who is beginning this journey.

    Every night as we pray, we remember all our service men/women who sacrifice so much for us, and their families, especially those who have given the greatest sacrifice. THANK YOU!

    Jayne

  • Amy Long

    To sit here a read something so very dear to me, and to not know what it is like to have the one i love leave to go over seas YET, but i hope i dont ever have to… is something like you say can only be felt when you experience it, but i would like to say when i was reading the article, i began to get teary eyed, thinking about when my husband does go, i began to fell sad, mad, and a lot of other things when i heard about all the other patriots that came home to have no family there to greet them. But you are right people go on about there own life forgetting that have sacrificed there lives to protect them. I’m an Army wife of two years. My husband was in the reserves before he went active duty, but now being an Army wife and seeing all that i do it is amazing how much they put up with for people they don’t know, i could have only imaged what it was like before i was an Army wife, but now i truly appreciate what they do, and it is sad that things have to happen for people to appreciate things like that, please tell those around you i say thank you for all that they do and GOD BLESS THEM ALWAY, Amy & Steven Long

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