Deployment Care Package: If You Could Ship Anything …


I’m currently knee-deep in planning and packing lists as I plot seven months of care packages, and it has me thinking.  What would you pack if you could ship anything — and I mean absolutely anything — all the way over to Afghanistan?

Here’s my short list:

Vegetables.  I realize that this might not be the very first thing you think of, but I am unreasonably obsessed with the members of my family getting their daily fruit and vegetable allotment.  And really that means vegetable, because I mentally tick ofvf the list for fruit with popsicles, cherry-flavored life savers, sugary drinks, and even the occasional fruit-swirled margarita.  (Obviously almost a fruit and fruit are the same in my head.  Don’t kill my happiness.)

But every time I sit down to a meal and think about one of these boxes, I’m overwhelmed by the desire to jam-pack it with heads of broccoli, crook neck summer squash, and braised asparagus.  I’ll confess I’ve taken this one to an unhealthy extreme: I’ve gone so far as to call Organic Valley and ask to speak to a logistics representative for advice.  Thankfully, the company is full of good, hard-working, humor-having people who chose to wait to start laughing at me until we hung up.

Those Doritos Locos tacos. I’d want to fill a box with Doritos Locos tacos.  Now, if you’ve eaten these, you’ll understand why anyone would want to send them to anyone they love all of the time.  They are unreal.  It takes true restraint to not just buy four when you see a Taco Bell and realize you cannot keep driving without one and go in and order too many and gobble them right up.  It’s like someone laced a taco with crack and unicorn sprinkles. If that exists in taco form, it’s this taco.

The Doritos Locos taco is happiness.  Every care package ever made should include them, and I personally think Yum! Brands should get on just delivering some to all of our servicemembers because if they end up watching an advertisement for them while overseas, where they can’t just up and drive to a Taco Bell, that’s just cruel and unusual punishment. (And if this review of a chip-based taco made by an international fast food chain strikes you as funny given my obsession with organic vegetables, you’re not alone.  My brain is right there with you.)

I would also want to send a masseuse.  In this case, I’d want a really ugly, big-handed guy masseuse, preferably one that has way too much body hair and maybe even smells a little, but I’d definitely want to send one.  I’m guessing it would have to be a yogi masseuse to fit in the box and survive the shipping process, but you know, I bet that guy is out there.  Yoga is cool these days.

The dogs.  Both of them.  Our larger dog, a boxer named Johnny Cash, starts whimpering the minute my husband leaves for work in the morning.  By noon we hit full on depression, and by late afternoon, he makes it clear he might actually die if Bill doesn’t come home soon.

The smaller of the two dogs, a rescued miniature poodle named Puppy (who I clearly acquired before I met and married a Marine), takes the bigger dog’s attitude for his emotional cues.  Oh, we’re crying now? Oh, okay! Wah wah bark.  Oh, we’re playing dead dog now? He collapses and rolls over.  Oh, we’re not interested in you unless you have cheese, chocolate, or Bill? Just so you know, we’re not.

Now, I adore our dogs and I miss them so much when we’re on vacation I actually have been known to check the kennel’s Facebook page to see if any pictures of our boys have been uploaded so that I can, with my own eyes, see that they’re okay.  But their adoration for me is not what it is for the man of the house. And I’m pretty sure if there were an option to climb in a box and somehow arrive at Bill’s overseas doorstep, they’d look at their comfy beds, dog toys, treats, and me, and jump right on in.

A Christmas tree!  And because we’re very ecumenical around here, it can have kwanzaa lights and a menorah on top, but I’d still ship a Christmas tree, and he’d open the box and ho, ho, ho, it’s Christmas.  Maybe we could fit some carolers in this box.  A reindeer or two.  Is that really asking too much from an imaginary dream?  Maybe? Shhh.  Don’t ruin Christmas.

That invisibility cape from Harry Potter.  Whatever, yes, I do know it’s not real, but I also can’t ship carolers, can I?

A complete list of everything I’ve read that day in the news.  This is my selfish one.  Before we picked up and moved to a military base, I was a real-deal journalist, and part of the job description of journalists is to spend innumerable hours every day that normal people spend grocery shopping, going to the gym, and washing their hair instead pouring over foreign news papers, listening to the BBC, and relishing the American punditry we sometimes call “news.”  This makes dinner at our house an hour-long conversation in current events, and very selfishly, I miss that when he’s not here.  So I want to send him all the things I’ve read and soaked up that day so that while he’s eating his box of broccoli and I’m eating a proper supper, we can have the same dinner table conversation together via fairy dust and Internet.  I guess this means I’m hiring: who else wants to spend 30 minutes discussing near-coups in sub-Saharan Africa with me every day?  Anyone?  Takers?

Mister Clean. To disinfect everything he owns.  And maybe some bug-spray for scorpions.  Do they make that? Does anyone know? I should call our friends at 29 Palms and ask.  I shiver just thinking about it. Ugh.

That’s my short list.  You’ll notice this does not include me.  Upon our I Do’s, I was sworn to not volunteer for some non-profit in Afghanistan building schools for girls or sign up for a UNESCO mission or go report the news in the sandbox or anything remotely similar during the length of deployment or find any other way to be over there to “help.” So I clearly cannot go in the box.  That, and I think it’d be a terribly uncomfortable trip.

If you could put anything, absolutely anything, in a care package box, what would you send?

About the Author

Raleigh Duttweiler
Raleigh Duttweiler is a writer and social media expert living just outside the gates of MacDill in sunny Saint Petersburg, Florida. A Marine Corps wife, she has navigated the stress of Active Duty moves, trainings, and deployments, and now that her family has transitioned to the Reserves, she's experiencing the "weekend warrior" side of military life. (NB: It's not quite as part-time as advertised.) When not writing about benefits and military families, Raleigh posts here about truly life-altering, important issues like What Not to Wear to a Military Ball (visible thongs), Military Halloween Costumes We Love to Hate (ones that generally resemble both military uniforms AND thongs), and how to pack awesome care packages. She is passionate about spouse employment, higher education, and helping families navigate the often-bumpy transition back into civilian life. Raleigh also manages the SpouseBUZZ and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest pages, so be sure to say hi!
  • Kelley

    My husband is utterly obsessed with my fried eggs!! He is currently deployed, so one day I cooked some up and emailed him a photo. His mouth was watering at the glorious sight of his favorite food; I’d give anything to be able to SEND him some :)

    • oooooooooh. we seriously need to figure our some dry-ice, heat-it-up there genius. I’m trying to get my husband to find out if we can send a rice cooker. Does anyone know if that’s just totally verboten? Because you can make virtually anything in a rice cooker. REAL FOOD!

    • Moses

      How you doing Kelley, you can plastic seal them and send it to your husband. Thats so wrong and teasing with a photo. When I was overseas my family and friends did this all the time for me. Home made enchiladas sealed in plastic. They have vacuum seal machines for this at your local shopping centers. You can send real food. I hope this will work for you and your significant other. He will be 10x happier. Have a good day!

      • Amy_Bushatz

        This makes me extremely nervous. I want to make my servicemember happy, not give him food poisoning!

        • FMRBlackwater

          Can’t be any more dangerous than the poor excuse for “food” he’s eating while deployed. Go for it.

  • how bout this

    If ” you could ship anything,” like anything that your ‘lil ole heart desires, guess what I’d ship? ME!

  • how bout this

    Blow-up Christmas tree! There’s a holiday answer for anyone who celebrates the reality of a jolly ole man with 9 reindeer. “Cuz they do exist. Yep, they do.

    And for grins, a fruitcake too. Ya know, Afghanistan might be the one place where someone would be delighted with a fruitcake sufficiently aged with bourbon or whisky.

  • Sonja

    One year I found tiny stand up fake Xmas trees at the dollar store along with min lights run on batteries. I sent them and while it got a good chuckle, the comment was, I think we are the only ones with trees in Oct. ( I wanted to make sure they got there in time) I know they were appreciated. Love the fruitcake thing! It never goes bad…..

    • i am totally doing this. thanks for the idea sonja!!! i hope they appreciate their festivities : )

  • Jonny V

    beer…. heck alcohol in any form….. it’s crazy that “other” countries have a beer tap in their MWR, but the US having nothing… sheesh.

    (especially true now days since most R&R is in theater and not back somewhere where you can have a drink or two)

  • john

    bacon….bacon everything….blt chips, bacon jerky, shelf stable bacon, bacon ranch dressing, bacon candles, you get the idea

    • I actually just got my hubaroo some bacon dip for a box. We joke that if I were to make him a pin-up calendar, it would just be pictures of bacon. Men and their bacon! Who am I kidding… I love bacon that much too! We do a bourbon bacon brownie that actually ships decently… but the “bacon” in this case is really jerkey.

    • brian

      Check out…they have EVERYTHING bacon! Chapstick, band-aids, all kinds of stuff

  • John D

    When I was deployed my wife tried to send me a Figi’s meat/cheese box. USPS wound’t ship, it had PORK in it!! We could buy SPAM in the local PX! We had ham, pork and bacon served in the mess hall everyday!! A real bottle of Irish whiskey would have been nice! I wouldn;t have offended theMuslims by letting them see it, I’d have drunk it myself,in private!

    • Syven914

      That’s a shame. I admittedly don’t tell the USPS when I ship things like that. I simply call it something else. Mind you, I do not send anything that is harmful or could explode (pressurized cans, etc.). As for alcohol, I did send a bottle of Irish Whiskey (Jamesons) to my hubby during one of his deployments – packed very carefully in lots and lots of bubble pack all the way around.

  • Kris

    When my hubby was in Iraq I did send a real Christmas tree! There is an organization that will send real Christmas trees with ornaments and lights to your service member. It’s just a small tree, but it made me feel better. It was $25 to have it sent, but I can’t remember the name of the organization. Maybe you could google it?

  • dr.rsmith

    Our family always carves pumpkins at halloween. Everyone guts them & draws on them and my husband carves them. Just because he wasn’t here wasn’t a reason for my hubby to miss family traditions so i shipped him a pumpkin. He carved it and had a friend take pics. Our son and my husband felt like they had done it together

  • Barb

    You can send food! Some ideas are: Mexican food-ok,not the real stuff maybe but my son loved it! flour tortillas, canned chicken, canned green chilies, canned refried beans, canned mex cheese dip. Send chips and salsa. I packed the chips in a boot shoe box and put that inside the other carton- I always used zerox copy paper boxes to send. Then there is Thanksgiving in a box: canned chicken or turkey, stovetop stuffing mix, canned green beans, canned sweet potatoes, canned cranberry sauce, instant potatoes, canned gravy. They usually have access to a microwave somewhere and if not, send one! You can also send a toaster oven with muffin mixes that only need water, and pizza in a box. Another idea is to send a crock pot with canned veggies and meats so they can make soups. If you know how to can foods, you can make homemade beef stew, homemade soups, veggies, etc to can and mail to them. I bought barbeque at his favorite restaurant and canned that to send to him ( need to pressure can meats). Then there are the cakes in a jar, which you can adapt to bake cornbread in a jar or sourdough bread in a jar to send.

  • hank hill

    i would send my troop a TICKET HOME!

  • Syven914

    I do send vegetables – and fruit! I just do it in a pill form ( :)

    Last year, I sent a squad of Army engineers a Christmas tree (small collapsible type), Christmas lights and Santa hats for all of them (along with some long-underwear). They emailed me a picture of them all around the tree wearing their hats (in uniform, of course).