Top 5 Items and Recommendations for deployment:
1. Pictures – Give your service member a small photo album filled with pictures of loved ones and notes from homes. This speaks volumes and keeps your service member near and dear while serving far away.
2. Light – Tactical tough light that can withstand extreme heat, cold, water and lots of hits and dings. Get something that uses typical batteries that are available in the field. We recommend Surefire lights, which cost more, but last longer than most other lights.
3. Safety Knifes – Sometimes issued, but a well-made combat knife will always be appreciated. A good knife helps with endless critical tasks: from making camp to opening food to making gear fit better and, when all else fails, a way to deal with a persistent enemy. A good, strong blade that won’t break or rust is worth its weight in gold. Even more so since gold isn’t very useful in combat. A sheath that can adopt to MOLLE gear (MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) is much preferred since it can be added to the carry gear with little effort. We recommend blades from TOPS, SOG and Blackhawk.
4. Undergarments - Give the gift of comfort. Weather in Iraq and Afghanistan are both harsh. They offer summers that can melt your internal organs and winters that will make your ears painfully freeze. The Armed Forces will supply general gear but keep in mind that it is mass produced gear that is anything but custom made to fit. An extra warm pair of socks will make marching on patrol a bit easier, sleeping at night a bit more comfortable and even make those army boots a bit less annoying. Comfortable, moisture-resistant under cloths are most important. You want gear that won’t add bulk, since your friend or family member will already have too much to carry. Think high-tech garments such as Under Armor, 5.11 Tactical or Blackhawk to name a few.
5. Peace of Mind. As hard as it is going to be for you to say goodbye, try to stay in control and send them off in as happy a manner as you can. The last glance they send your way will be the mental image they will see in their minds’ eye. You must be brave and let them know you’ll manage. That you’ll miss them for sure, but that you will cope and be strong–for them. You are proud and they have been trained well. Send them reassuring letters and be sure to add in some silly stuff too.