The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


January 24, 2008

Name: JP
Posting date: 1/24/08
Stationed in: Kuwait / Iraq
Hometown: Burke, Virginia
Milblog url

The only real point to this list is to have a laugh, so keep that in mind. Personally, I love each and every care package I receive. Hopefully you have a sense of humor if you choose to read on. Or a tall glass of wine...

1.  Do not send party invitations for weddings or Independence Day or any other festivities while we are deployed. Because we can't attend. Anybody who sends a party invitation to a deployed soldier is clearly retarded.

2.  Do not continue to write a soldier when the soldier never writes you back. If you really want attention that bad, jump off a building.

3.  The meanest thing you can do to a soldier is to send generic, not name brand, goods. Hey, I like to save money too, but sending generic brand goods is worse than taking a dump in a cardboard box and shipping it over.

4.  No more magazines dated back to 1980. It's not like anybody is actually going to read them. I know vacuum cleaners with better care package sense than you.

5.  Don't ever send school supplies unless we ask. Most soldiers don't like to criticize care packages, but you could send over a box of deadly scorpions and that would be a better package. Yes, seriously.

6.  Do not send a typewritten letter about your personal life to a soldier. It doesn't matter if you're Elvis Presley back from the dead, or the first person to ride a unicorn. Receiving a typed letter about your personal life is the lowest form of support known to a soldier.

7.  Don't shop at the Dollar Store for your soldier. I'm sure it sounds great when you tell your family and friends that you support the troops by sending care packages, but if you're shopping at the Dollar Store you're probably worse off than we are. Please, send us the mailing address to the bridge you live under, and we'll try and help.

8.  If it's not electronic, sometimes (okay, almost always) it's not worth sending. I'm convinced 99% of what people send us is garbage. I haven't seen a soldier yet complain about receiving an iPod in the mail. I'm just saying.

9.  Do not send crossword puzzles. Or word finds. It's a sure way to disappoint a soldier when they open the care package. I've seen people who were punched in the face repeatedly look much happier than soldiers who opened care packages with crossword puzzles.

10.  Don't tell a soldier that you understand what he or she is going through because your neighbor's cousin has a sister who has a brother who knows somebody who was deployed. It's a sure way of having your care package transformed into a kicking ball. Or a smoking pile of ash.



Well, gee, that leaves a lot of things to send ...

I had a friend whose brother was deployed. She, too, worried about what to send him. After all, you can only send so many iPods, and I remember my niece telling me not to send any movies or TV shows because she was able to find some things in Iraq before they were available here.

My friend got a sudden inspiration, went to the Dollar Store, and picked up a few packages of those green army men, balsa wood airplanes, and the little parachutist guys. Her brother was ecstatic. He and his unit whiled away their empty hours setting up elaborate scenarios, melting some of the army men into various positions, and having little battles with the toys. I guess people sending over care packages have to use their imaginations and should probably know the person to whom they're sending the packages.

the author seems nice

I do have a sense of humor and I have heard people have literally sent real garbage. An i pod is the only thing they want, especially if they get no mail at all, although that is certainly a great gift. Perhaps a top ten of what would bring a smile?

How about sending just a big empty box so we can mail ourselves home. Haha, good stuff JP.

As a Nam vet who did appreciate almost anything that came in a care package, I really don't find this very funny. I was pleased to get packages of Kool-Aid, for example, or real chocolate bars. I know you probably can get real chocolate bars (not c-ration chocolate) in the PX in Iraq, we had no such luxury in Nam. If someone sends a care package over, they have strong sentiments about making your life better, whether you like the gifts (they are gifts, you know) or not. And if all you want is an iPod, I'm sure they have them at the PX. One time my parents sent a package with a round box of Quaker oatmeal. I thought that was an odd choice, except there was a small bottle of vodka packed inside, shielded from damage and theft. Not only was the vodka welcome at Christmas Eve (in a cold bunker with a couple of buddies huddled over a candle in a bunker at a forward firebase in the Ashau Valley) and New Year's Eve (in a foxhole in the jungle) but the Kool-Aid made a nice mixed drink and the oatmeal was quickly eaten. I guess if you've got it real bad, anything looks good.'s not that bad? And I'm pretty sure any jackass has an iPod these days. No CARE packages, it is.

Okay, scorpions, iPods, and a boxing glove on a spring it is! I’ll have to remember that.

Definitely gave me a laugh. And you *did* post a disclaimer at the top…

Thanks for the comments. One day, I'll accompany the Enty with pictures (before and after)

That is the funniest damn list. God love you for having a sense of humor and for telling it straight. Some folks do mean well but they don't have a lick of sense.
God bless you and I truly have no idea what you are going through and I am constantly amazed how you and your comrades survive.
I'm happy to say the last care package I sent broke none of the rules---whew!

If there's ever any doubt about what to send, check out for a direct hit!

If there's ever any doubt about what to send, check out for a direct hit!

Ahhhh, JP, rules do get broken....
Where's that "other" list of rules someone sent in response to yours? I like it much better. ;-)

So does that mean you are going to send all that stuff back? I mean, you do have free mail. I'll be waiting for the postman. Waiting.....waiting..... and more waiting.....

Ha. I remember before going over, someone gave me a box of . . . toothpaste, toothbrushes and a bunch of stuff from the dollar store. My girlfriend and I just looked at it, and I'm pretty sure she threw it out after I left.

Ky Woman - send it back? Of course not, we just trade it for something Toilet Paper, or Spoons. (joking of course).

I'd be very happy if a total stranger sent me an i pod $80-$250 also. It just would be odd to expect one. I'm just saying.

I supported some troops who had no PX store. Ramen noodles were so valuable, they used them instead of money when playing poker! I guess it all depends on the circumstances they are in.

What's really cool is the GREAT difference between what you get and what we got in 'Nam. Something vs nothing, sort of. If all you're short on is a $400 Ipod, then go get one for yourself. Oh, yeah, good luck.

I see it every day.

Ha great post, gave me the giggles. I worked for "a million thanks" that GM put on for the troops we sorted through all of the stuff that was to be sent over to the troops... you would be amazed at what we were told to throw out... broken hangers, shampoo bottles with 3 drops of stuff left in them, half used things of toothpaste... it was interesting what people would send haha

For all of you who don't know JP, I'll let ya in on a secret. Of all the guys I've adopted, he is one of THE most gracious! I'm back for deployment #2, along with a whole bunch of stuff from the do not send list :)

JP i had this same conversation with my buddy before he shipped back to iraq for round two. it gave me a great laugh then just like your post did now. thank you for all that you're doing for us.

OK. I had a chance to think this over. First; I'm relieved you're safe and bored. Being safe enough to bitch is sometimes as good as it gets. Enjoy. Second; Compared to the services and goods available to 'Nam vets, you guys got it slack. Before you dismiss this as 'Old guy rant', look at pictures from that era. No pop, no ice cream, no Blue Bunny dispensers. No B&R, no Taco Bell, no DQ, no Mickey D's. No nothing at all. If it didn't come in a #10 can, it wasn't on the menu. Third; If you could get anything sent to you from home, there were eagle eyed postal clerks who would sort through the care packages, pick out what they wanted, and throw the rest of the box away.

You'd not only not get the special brownies, you wouldn't get the letter from home, the dear John, the funeral announcement. You'd get the letters, from people who used to care about you, asking why you were such an ungratefull asshole for not thanking Mom and your little brother for the brownies. Somewhere there was one stoned soldier, but it wasn't you. You had to explain why you didn't write a condolence (as if there was a sorrier MF'er on the planet than you, who was not already dead, that you had to feel sorry for) letter. You had to explain why you never saw the package.

So, I'm glad you're safe and bored. And, BTW it is funny that people would send dollar store garbage, or just plain old garbage. Sort of a twisted mis-understanding about what you need and how some folks perceive you.

Hey JP

You know - the thing about care packages is that the folks that send them - Well - they just don't know - they don't have a clue what it is like to live in a place ithout flush toilets and a Walmart store or a grocery store.

They mean well when they send you crap that you can't use. They think that you can use it and that you will like it. You know - the just can't
"walk a mile in your shoes" because man - they don't even realize that people don't even have shoes where you are at.

You are on a different planet over there! Even our homeless people living under the bridge have it better than their counterparts over there.

You know man - if you can't use the shit - give it to some poor raghead kid who can!

Those of us who are over here that support your service - are in awe of you guys!

Anyways - I wish you the best - a safe deployment a happy return and most of all - A SAFE AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR AND A SOUND RETURN WHEN YOUR DEPLOYMENT IS OVER


Heh, JP, damn spot-on

I remember a package I got with "Bald guyz head wipes". I didn't even know that stuff existed.

Everyone was thinking it, someone had to say it!


Hey everyone, thanks for the great feedback so far (yes, that includes you aprillini). I'll be honest, humor is one of the tools we use over here to battle the boredom and the stress. Thankfully, the Convoy Security mission that we perform as an Infantry Unit throughout Iraq, can be boring. I actually wrote this parody list in Afghanistan during my 2004 deployment, but the list still holds true.

ken - Yeah, times have changed a bit, even from my first deployment to now. Quaker Oatmeal? I'm pretty sure eating a bowl of mud would be more enjoyable. I'm just saying...

JP with the supporters you have, you must really be craving Quaker oatmeal :)

SK, you are so wrong there. It's not QUAKER Oatmeal he needs, it's that Kroger brand generic stuff he needs. Tons and tons. And ummmm, let's see....and old Ladies Home Journal magazine, a book about unicorns (ZING!!!), and some more Dollar Store candy. I think I have a box filled with that stuff on my counter for JP right now. I better run it up to the post office right away!! Oh, oh, and I better have my dog poopie in the box before I seal it.

I love it when you "zing" the old webmaster!
JP, you best get ready for a barrage of special "care packages"....just sayin.;-)

JP,This list is still just as funny as the first time I read it when you were deployed 2 years ago :) I remember I sent you a panicked email,saying 'omg, I just sent some things on that list!!" LOL. and you reassured me it was all in fun,and don't sweat it.

It's always interesting, to see how some people get ticked off, and some people rofl over this list.

In case anyone wonders? TWO groups of folks made it their mission to send JP and his unit EVERY SINGLE THING that was on this list...we had magazines from the 1980's and all kinds of goofy stuff. And they loved it all,that we were so willing to spend time and money for such a great joke:) just so they'd know that we Cared :)

of course, I myself am 'just a jackass',LOL...I don't have an IPOD. I'm just sayin....

Hugs and love,JP, to you and all the rest of the guys.

Oooo-oooo, I'm not "ANY old jackass" either cuz I don't have an IPOD. FINALLY, A MEAN NAME THAT CANNOT BE APPLIED TO ME!! I think I heard the angels singing hosannas!!

Poor JP, so misunderstood! Just tryin' to bring some light into the world! Laugh and the world laughs with you....cry and you cry alone. Words to live by? Keep yourselves safe!

Nice. The crackheads are in town

Hey, get it right, soldier! We are proudly your very own "crackhead haufraus"! We've followed you from Afghanistan and on to Iraq.

BTW, I hope you enjoyed the Butt Paste I sent in the last care package. You'll need it after eating all the generic oatmeal you're going be getting from SK, LL and Kathi.

okay - most of this had me rotflmao! There are two on there though that I would like to ask you think twice about posting next time. Quit writing a soldier who doesn't write you back, and the generic stuff.

Just saying...there ARE a lot of Heroes out there that want the mail coming in but are too shy to write back (or plain old can't spell and are embarassed by that fact). And you might piss off a few people who can only afford generic but still want to support a Hero. One man's trash is another man's treasure ya know ;)

I know you are blowing off steam...but try to remember that those 2 little statements might very well cost other Heroes - who really do want, need, and appreciate ANY support thrown their way.

God Bless you and I'm off to buy you an entire pallet of damaged, unmarked boxes so that it will be just like Christmas when you get 5000 packages of used deoderant =)

Just check the wants and needs of a soldier on and make sure you don't send unwanted things

This is valuable information thank you for sharing it!


I agree that it really a good news you have a very informative blog.


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference THE GOLDEN RULES OF CARE PACKAGES:

« Previous Article | Main | Next Article »

Search Doonesbury Sandbox Blog



My Photo