Deployment TipsterWhile They're Away

Deployment Packages 101

With the holiday around the corner, it is time to start thinking about sending Christmas Care packages to your deployed loved one. With Canada Post offering free shipping of parcels and letters to those deployed, now is the time to get a jump start, to ensure your loved ones receives your package before Christmas. 

I sent treats over to my husband in during his first deployment only to discover that the chocolate had melted, the package ripped open with things missing and what wasn’t missing had shampoo or chocolate all over it. 

To ensure that packages sent to your loved one while he or she is deployed arrive safely, with the items sent in a usable state, there are a few basic strategies I use. The package doesn’t have to be fancy or filled with expensive things the most valuable thing you will send is letters, cards, and photos that share what is happening in your lives and how much your loved one is missed.

The package doesn’t have to be fancy or filled with expensive things the most valuable thing you will send is letters, cards, and photos that share what is happening in your lives and how much your loved one is missed.  Image courtesy of Canadian Armed Forces.

Package Tips

* Before the member leaves ask them what they think they will need and, if you can, send it before they leave – they may get it in their first couple of days there, where your loved one could be in real shock as it could be tough for them. Your package could be the bright spot. Most members will also know what their mailing address is before they deploy too.

* In the first phone call or email – ask them what they want more of or would like sent over that they hadn’t realized that they would need/want

* Don’t mix things all in one box (chocolate with shampoo) and make sure that you know all of the items that you have placed in the box (if you do not have the customs forms and mailing forms in advance make a list as you are putting the items in so that you can take it with you and fill it out appropriately)

* Send non-perishable food items (should have at least a 30-day shelf life) and non-pressurized items (I think of those as anything that doesn’t spray). Use Ziplock bags to seal separately anything that may spill, melt, etc. 

* Use a padded envelope or strong box depending on what you are sending. Many packages are going to be piled on top of yours which means there could be hundreds of pounds on top of your box or envelope so make sure it isn’t something breakable/fragile. Use packing tape too as other types of tape will not be as strong or effective

* Remember that the person you are sending your package to may not get it when it arrives (might not be in the immediate area) and that it could be sitting unopened for awhile

* If it is special or unique or you definitely want it back, make copies of it or don’t send it – packages can get lost or damaged beyond repair, and you don’t want to lose things that are irreplaceable to you.

* Make sure that your loved one will still be deployed by the time the package arrived to theatre. It takes a few weeks, if not longer for parcels to get from Canada to the various deployments around the world.

16 November 2006, Kandahar, Afghanistan. The Kandahar postal crew, Sergeant St-Onge (Background), Master Corporal McMahon (R) and Corporal Madsen (L), sorting a dispatch of mail they just received to further distribute to Canadian soldiers across the area of operations. The “posties” and the work they do are one of the best moral boosters for the troops. Photo by: MCpl Yves Gemus, Joint Task Force Afghanistan Roto 2. Image courtesy of Canadian Armed Forces.

KEY THINGS TO REMEMBER

* You cannot pack:  alcohol, beer, and wine, explosives; radioactive materials or ammunition; matches, flammable liquids or solids; compressed gas, propane cigarette lighters, or corrosive fluids; obscene magazines or pictures; batteries; drugs; and/or perishable items.

* The weight maximum for packages is 18kgs or 40lbs

* If you are mailing from a post office you will have to pay for the postage to Belleville, ON. Otherwise, you can drop it off at your local MFRC. Call your local MFRC as they usually have several drop off locations for your convenience  

* Ensure that you are making packages a minimum of a month in advance as to when you would like them to arrive. Some can arrive within days, and some can take over a month.

Every soldier I have ever met treasures cards, pictures, notes, etc. more than anything else. Even though life goes on while they are away, as it should, it is important to let them know that they are missed and never forgotten.  

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Megan Egerton

Megan Egerton is a military wife, mother of two, principal and writer. Author of While You Were Away:101 Tips for Families Experiencing Absence or Deployment

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