Traditionally, care packages have been cookies and candy, but for troops serving in Iraq, there are 2 items that can really make a difference.
Despite fluctuations in support for President Bush and the war in Iraq, and no matter what our personal opinions are on either subject, the troops serving over there still want and need our support.
Families send loved ones boxes of home-baked cookies and favorite candy bars, letters and photos, all aimed at letting 'our troops' know that they are missed by those they've left behind, back home.
However, some items may be more welcome than others. A couple, you may not even have thought about, can actually be lifesavers.
Everybody knows that the troops welcome letters and goodies from home, but there aren't many people who realise there are two items that really should be in EVERY care package.
You are probably now thinking "what two items is she talking about? Toothpaste and toothbrush, maybe?" The answer will probably surprise you.
In Fallujah, in Baghdad, and many other places in Iraq most of the troops travel on foot, sometimes they may travel miles and be on the go for twelve hours or more.
Think of your poor aching feet when you've walked a 5k walk for charity. or even traipsed around stores shopping for school clothes and supplies for children, in August.
Feet sweat, they swell, they get blistered. When feet get damp, they run the risk of fungal infections such as athlete's foot. Itchy, blistered, aching feet. These can be a soldier's nightmare, in a hot climate, when they are expected to (and their life may depend upon) walk and run for long periods each day.
They don't have room in their backpacks for foot powder, blister cream, anti-fungal cream and a whole first aid kit of foot respite but they can make the room for a small aerosol can of cooling anti-fungal foot spray such as Lamisil. A quick spray cools the foot and dries like powder, but the anti-fungal properties cut down on the chances of an infection, like athlete's foot, taking hold. The drying action also helps prevent the blistering, and soothes the achey-ness.
These usually cost around $7 or so, but their value to our soldiers is worth far more.
So, now, you are probably wondering what the second item is? Again, it has to be fairly small in order to not add much extra weight to what the soldier has to carry around all the time, and it is something that can be a life saver.
Iraq is a hot, dusty place for the troops to be. The destruction of buildings has created dust, and the region is known for sandstorms that blow sand in from the desert areas, often making visibility perilous. The troops wear goggles, but these get caked up with dirt and grime, often making it difficult to see. In a place where there may be a sniper hiding, waiting for the right moment to kill or injure an enemy, the ability to see clearly is extremely important.
The second item that should be in every care package is the lens cleaner that eye clinics use to clean spectacles, the one that the assistant will use and all of a sudden, your 'clean' glasses are sparkly clear. These come in packs of 2, one bottle is about 7" high and the other is a purse size. A pack costs about $10, a small price to pay for somebody's life. The soldier can carry the small bottle with them on a daily basis and fill up from the larger one, back at the main base.
For less than $20 you can make life a bit easier and safer for our men and women serving overseas in Iraq ( and this would probably apply to those in Afghanistan, too). It's a small price to pay to show someone we care, and I think these two items should be a part of every care package going overseas to this area.
Cookies and candy are wonderful and much appreciated, they give the men and women a 'taste of home' but the next time you pack a care package, please include these two items and help keep our troops safe and comfortable, too.