By Alli from CO
Anything that reminds him of you and of home. It helps to recenter them back to their selves and out of the dust and human-less of where they are. My foster son loved getting a small photo album that he could carry in his left side jacket chest pocket that contained pictures of his girlfriend, of their daughter and many pictures of both he and the girlfriend together at happy times with thier toddler. then some pictures of their dog and yard.
The simple things. Pictures of the house with the yellow ribbon on it, and the Marine Corps Semper Fi somewhere. Make an early Birthday dinner and record it and send it to him so he will get it when it is his birthday.
The same for Christmas. Christmas is the hardest. Something always seems to happen to shut communications from the base down at this time so they are literally stuck. Homesick, etc. but if you have sent them the video they watch it on their DVD player, and if they don't have one a buddy does who will share.
Just make everything smell of home too. Wash stuff in their favorite detergent and softener and use it twice. It took our son 3 months to finally feel like he didn't smell Iraq anymore. He had a pillow I had made him that I put dryer sheets in actually stuffed them in, that he used all the time and he said it always smell like home and safety. Just do what you can to send him a box with "home" in it. And keep reminding him you are all waiting for him but in the meantime keep his head down!
SuzyQ has a great idea, I say go for it! I'll also add my ideas. My son spent two 7+ month tours in Iraq with the USMC. Here's some of what I did:
You can put together shoeboxes full of little things, like stationery and stamps, phone cards, etc. Include treats like hard candies and other hard-to-crush snacks (Slim Jims and jerky were favorites with my son.) Don't stop there, though. Let it be known in any group you're part of (church, etc,) that your soldier needs some TLC. Encourage anyone interested to either send care packages themselves or contribute to care packages.
Encourage everyone around you to write encouraging letters to your Marine. Hand out his address like business cards.
If your Marine is devout, there's a "Marine Corps Bible" available. You should be able to find it through your favorite search engine. I don't know what versions are available, but I believe they're $15-$20 each. Its cover features the eagle-globe-anchor. I believe it includes devotionals a Marine would easily identify with.
Last but certainly not least, if you're devout yourself, you're already doing the best thing possible for not only your Marine, but all our servicemen and women. Pray.
God bless you and your Marine!
I think a good gift would be as simple as a hand-written, heartfelt letter from you. Tell him how much you love him and miss him. Remind him of happier, special times the two of you spent together. Let him know you are longing for the time you can be together again to share more happy times. Let him know you support him fully.
You may have already done this in letters, but I would imagine every letter he gets from you is a treasured gift. :)
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