This next week is going to be busy with not one but two new eBook releases for me. I don’t want today’s post to get lost amid the marketing hubbub of promoting my books, but I also don’t want to delay this very important post either, so here it goes…
Those who have been around here for awhile have heard me talking about my military muses. The stars aligned during October of 2006. By some twist of fate, I joined BooksForSoldiers.com and happened to stumble upon and respond to a request for care packages from a certain soldier deployed in Ramadi, Iraq at the time. It is so long ago, and so many care packages ago, I’m not even sure what the request was for. I believe Sean was building a library in the MWR and requested books. Being a newly published author at the time, I had books, and I sent them. The thank you email he sent me back started a friendship that has lasted nearly 4 years now. It also spurred a collaboration. Sean’s tales of war have inspired 3 of my military romances, and his fact checking keeps me on track during my writing in that genre.
It is with mixed feelings that I inform you he is about to deploy once more. As he jokes, he will have more info for me and I’ll likely get another book or two out of it. But I also realize that where he is going is the current hotbed of discontent and danger, just as Ramadi was when he was there years ago. So it goes where he serves. First in, last out and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Anyway, this time instead of just his usual 11 man team beneath him, Sean now has 45 men he is responsible for. So this deployment, the third since I’ve known him, the sixth I believe in his ten-plus years in, I am not going to just be content with sending him packages on my own. I have a background in marketing, both from my college studies, and my career in the real world, besides the marketing required to be an author. Why not use it for Sean’s benefit?
No matter what your opinion is of this war or the men in Washington DC, those soldiers serving in Afghanistan, freezing in the winter, broiling in the summer, risking life and limb to not only enemy attack but the wildlife and elements they are forced to endure, deserve all of our support. And even if you don’t choose to support Sean’s platoon, my hope is that you will receive the information you need here to help you more effectively support a soldier of your choice also serving overseas. Below is a copy of the email Sean sent out today to his friends. It is exactly as I received it from him with one exception, I removed his mailing address. We both agreed for security purposes that the mailing address shouldn’t be spread all over cyberspace. However, anyone who would like to send a card, letter or package to Sean’s unit, please shoot me an email at catjohnson @ hotmail .com and I will reply with his mailing address. I will not capture your email address or use it for promo. I will not share your email address with anyone. We simply feel safer not informing the bad guys exactly where there will soon be a personnel change and troop movements in that region, or supply a crazy radical person an address to be used to harass or harm our troops. Call me paranoid. Anyway, here is the letter from Sean.
Remember, for the cost of a postcard stamp you could make a deployed soldier’s day.
Dear Family and Friends,
I am writing you today as our deployment draws even closer. While I can not say exactly when we will be departing, I will say with certainty that I need to begin generating support for my soldiers for our time downrange if I am to be successful for my men.
Whether it is a letter of support, a book to relax with, a dvd to watch during movie night, a snack to liven up the usual drab course, or a hygeine item to help keep us clean. All of this matters to a soldier and makes a difference in their morale.
Having been deployed more times than I care to count, I can tell you from experience that not receiving mail can really be a downer. I can also say that being a point of contact for my platoon, the astounding affect that mail can have on a person.
If you have family or friends who wish to help or are part of any organization; be it a local church or school, store or business, sports team, etc that may wish to be a part of supporting soldiers, it would be much appreciated. I have found much success in these types of support groups.
I am including a generic list of items which I have found are needed/wanted. Once there I will find out more specific needs or wants from the soldiers. The list is not an all inclusive one.
My platoon is all male and approximately 45 in number. I’ll serve as the Point of Contact for my soldiers and will ensure the care packages/letters are distributed. Packages addressed to “Any Soldier” is generally frowned upon in an age where someone can use the mail system to harm others. For those who want something to go specifically to me, just label that item or include in your correspondence that the item or package is solely intended for me. Other than that, all will be used for the good of the platoon.
Also, please do not mail anything prior to 22 February. This date is just a generalization for mailing. I don’t know how long mail will take to arrive this time, but I am not wanting it to arrive too early and flood the unit we will be replacing. If it gets there early, no worries, they have a place to secure any mail intended for us.
CORRESPONDENCE-letters, postcards, greeting cards, pictures (of you or things in states)
Phone cards- generally needed. not sure what type of phones we will have, so for now if you do send, do so in small limits. At the larger camps these can be used, but in smaller outposts where we will be, it depends on the phones they set up. It might be that I could generate an account for all to use and the regular type phone cards aren’t needed. I will let you know once there.
ENTERTAINMENT- These are an important function in a combat zone. It is a way to unwind and escape the day to day realities of combat and the stresses involved.
DVD movies or tv seasons- used or new, regular or bluray
XBOX 360/ PS3 /PS2/XBOX (new or used)
Books (all genres minus romance) Bibles are welcome, but usually provided by chaplains.
Magazines-“Maxim” type, guns, sports, outdoor, etc.
Activity books/puzzles (Sudoku, word search, etc…)
Handheld electronic games
Board games (chess, monopoly, risk, etc)
Card games (Skip bo, Phase 10, etc)
Comic Books- yes, still a valued entertainment source among many
Shampoo/conditioner (two in one works best)
Razors- regular disposables work, but the mach 3 or fusion type are preferred
Aftershave gels or lotions
Deodorant- mostly used is gillette gel type antiperspirant/deodorant.
Soap (irish spring is widely used)
Foot powders/Tinactin spray
Hair clippers w/attachments(ask first before sending as one or two would be enough)
MEDICINE- anything in general (nondrowsy types if possible)
Bandaids- all assortments
Olive drab green calf length boot socks- socks made for hiking/water resistant is a plus but not necessary. Thorlos is a preferred brand, but a bit pricey.
White socks crew length
Boot insoles- general sizing 7 ½ to 13, most are around 9
Supplements- mainly protein sources, the weightlifting powders like whey protein. These supplements are dual purpose. Weightlifting is a favorite thing for deployed soldiers. If there is no gym equipment, we make it out of whatever is handy. Soldiers who don’t weight lift still utilize these supplements to help keep their bodies in good health.
Calendars- please no puppies, favorites are ones like Maxim and swimsuit ones
Air fresheners /candles
CDR’s or DVDR’s-for making pic discs
Canned air or Endust wipes
AA and AAA batteries
Greeting Cards- for holidays/events (ie birthday/anniversary), general subjects (Really Miss You, Love You, etc)
Bug Spray (Avon Bug Guard is a good one)
Multi-outlet cords with surge protector
Dental picks- the metal type, good for either dental hygiene or in depth cleaning of weapons
Tuna/Salmon- preference is the bagged.
Microwaveable meals ( ie Easy Mac, Taco Bell, Chef Boyardee, ramen)
canned meats/Ham salad/vienna sausages/ sardines
Summer Sausages & mustard
Condiments-ketchup, mayo, mustard, etc. (packets and bottles)
Trail mixes/granola bars/chocolate bars-make for great on patrol energy boosters
Drink mixes (kool-aid/country time/ice tea, etc)
Peanuts-good, but tend to be overkilled in amount
Salsa (many like it hot)
Candy (any sorts)
instant oatmeal packs
pickles (the large prepacked ones)
DO NOT SEND / DO NOT SEND / DO NOT SEND
Homemade goods –please don’t send unless we know you very well. For the safety of the soldier all food must be non-homemade goods
Flea Collars-we can’t use them as they aren’t made for humans, wild how rumors spread…..we don’t have fleas, we may get sampled by a lot strange spiders and bugs, but no need for these
Ammo or pyrotechnics- Uncle Sam keeps us stocked.
Hamsters, goldfish, or other pets. -There is more wildlife where we will be than we can handle as is; dogs, cats, jackals, rats, snakes, scorpions, spiders, and more. No need for pets.
Feminine products- there are women in other areas who would need these more.
Okay, I am going to get this sent out. I know that many have been waiting anxiously for me to deploy again. Some seem to like my writings, The Ramblings, others have a want to support the soldiers and I. Whatever your motivation, I send my appreciation now. My gut and more importantly, current knowledge of what’s going on downrange right now tells me that we are going to need all the “love” we can get.
If you have any questions please email me. I will do my best to respond as soon as possible. Things here have been very busy so free time is very limited.
Your Friend and Soldier,