For Families and Friends
Of Deployed Soldiers

For Information, Not Endorsement



Deployment Preparation/Readiness

DOD Forms
Deployment Info For Military Members And Their Families
Deployment Readiness Packet, 3rd BDE 2nd ID Chaplain’s Office, Fort Lewis, WA

On The Home Front

Military Wives
Army Installations
Voltage Converters   Amazon
12 Tips For Storing Vehicles
Blue Star Mothers of America
VFW Family Assistance Program
Fisher House - Helping Military Families


VFW Operation Uplink
FAQs On Overseas Mail
Military Postal Service Agency


TRICARE (Handles all military health insurance.)
TRICARE TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery


Dealing With A Soldier Coming Home For R&R

Q:   What advice do you have for dealing with a soldier coming home for R&R?

A:   Here is an excellent response from Carolyn Donnell.

Neck and Helmet Coolers

Q:   How do I make a neck cooler for a soldier and how does a soldier use it?

A:   Here's the poop.

A:   And there is this for cooling the head-in-helmet.

Power of Attorney?

Q:   Our aviator son ('02) will be going to Honduras in September. I assume all of the info I read regarding powers of attorney and storing personal items, etc. also applies to anyone sent out of country. He will be bringing things home for storage including his car, but I was also planning on getting the P/A in case we need to handle anything for him stateside during his absence. Is this the correct thing to do? Do you just do a general power of attorney or specific? Any other advice?

A:   Since one never knows what might come up while he's out of country, a General P/A is the way to go.

Our son was on active duty for 3 years before USMA and we always had one. Also, mom was co-tenant on his bank accounts, which were in the same institution as ours, so we could handle his finances if we needed to. He's married now and holds everything jointly with his wife so she takes care of the home front while he's away.

Storing Belongs Of A Deploying Bachelor Officer

Q:   When a bachelor officer is deployed, what do they do with their car, apartment, and other stuff ? Does the Army put it into storage or do they just lock the door and head out?

A:   This is a loaded question - and an important one. It may depend on a number of factors, most important of which is where he or she is stationed. That may determine what is available at the base, etc.

Our son is stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY, with the 101st. He was deployed at the end of February and we have learned from the rotation order you refer to that his redeployment date will be February or March 04.

I believe our son had the option of having his car parked in a secure area on base. He could have also left it parked in the lot outside of his apartment. We opted to pick up the car and bring it home. If the car is left in a secure lot on base, or elsewhere, you would want to check with the insurance company regarding a reduced rate.

He and his roommate decided to keep their apartment. Their lease provides for a reduced rate reflecting no utilities, etc. Most places near large bases know how to work with these problems. His roommate provided us with a year's worth of checks and we pay their rent. We take his money from his account, which leads to the next point.

Our names have been placed on his accounts to give us full access to his money. He banks through USAA and we are able to go online to view his record of deposits, balances, etc. In addition, we have his powers of attorney for financial and health matters. I would suggest that you get that done as soon as is practicable. Usually the base legal will be very helpful in that regard.

So far everything has worked out. We will now be confronting the question of signing a new lease for them and will have to do some jockeying regarding getting the car back to our son when he returns.

Health/Medical Insurance

Q:   Do active duty service members have health/medical insurance?

A:   In the strictest sense active duty don't have insurance. They receive all care from a military facility. If they need to receive care outside of a military facility it is the responsibility of the care facility which covers their unit/location. That military treatment facility arranges for, and pays for their care. Emergencies are covered and paid for by their local military treatment facility. An active duty soldier's ID card (and their eligible family members' military ID cards) serve as verification that they are eligible for medical care through the military. They may also receive a TRICARE card although care is paid for my their servicing military treatment facility. To make a long story short, active duty military and their eligible family members have free medical care. Nothing in the civilian community can even come close to this benefit.

Sharing an APO Address

Q:   My son just deployed to the Middle East. Is any reason I should not share his APO address with friends and interested people?

A:   There's no reason not to share your son's APO address. We've distributed our son's to our family and a large group of friends. We've also given it to a local Girl Scout Troop which is going to "adopt" his unit.

What and What Not to Send

Q:   Is there somewhere people can go to find a list of items that are OK to send to our deployed soldiers? I want to make sure I do not create a problem for him. Also, I realize troops poised to go into combat will not be able to store and keep some things since they are not being based somewhere for 6 to 9 months.

A:   These items may be sent. Keep in mind that the list is a good starting point and your soldier may tell you what they need or want. Personal hygiene and grooming items should be individual, small sized and unscented.

  1. Coffee bags (like Folgers coffee singles)
  2. AA Batteries (or whatever fits in any small electronics they may have taken)
  3. Stamped or postage paid post cards
  4. Moisturizing lotion
  5. Hand sanitizer
  6. Chapstick
  7. Wet wipes
  8. Sun block
  9. Eye drops
  10. Underwear & socks
  11. Large handkerchiefs
  12. Any kind of candy except chocolate (it melts)
  13. Beef sticks, jerky (nothing with pork in it)
  14. Ready to serve canned foods (tuna, stews, soups, hash, etc.)
  15. Nuts, dried fruit, trail mix (the stuff with M&Ms in it is ok - the candy keeps it from melting), etc.
  16. Bug Spray - some natural and milder for the skin and some with deet to put on his clothes (some send flea collars but I don't think they should have those on their skin)
  17. Ointments - such as bactine, anti-itch, neosporin, hydrocortisone
  18. Creams - to restore dry and aging skin, or skin repair cremes, needs to be thick
  19. Powders - foot and body especially Gold Bond
  20. Salves - chap stick, sunscreen balm, carmex, Burt's Bees
  21. Aspirin and Tylenol
  22. Toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss
  23. Love

A:   Here is a list of proscribed items:

  1. No flammable items
  2. No tobacco products
  3. No alcoholic beverages
  4. No religious articles such as Bibles
  5. No Christian articles, such as Rosaries
  6. No pork or products containing pork products (read lable)
  7. No fresh fruits or plants
  8. No pornography or anything that can be so construed, such as Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition
  9. No books with provocative covers

A:   Here is a fuller list of permitted and proscribed items:

  1. In Word Format
  2. In HTML Format

A:   We have had very little communication from our son but we get a little and the girlfriend gets a little and we piece it together. He said what we sent him in Kuwait was a god-send. So we must have done good. Here was my approach. By the way, toilet paper was a big item and good for packing boxes.

  1. When he was in Kuwait, I knew he could go into Iraq and be on the move at anytime. So, I prepared large padded envelopes of items that I thought he could use quickly or that were small enough to carry. We also reached a time when they said only letter size things were going through so I used smaller padded envelopes and sent them through. I will post the list of the items I put in the small packages.

  2. When I sent a box of any size, I stuffed it full figuring whenever they got it, he would share with those around him and it wouldn't last long. That included food items as well as hygiene products. I figured there was always someone who needed something. I just filled the box until it was packed tight, no stuffing, or ribbon, or pretty stuff.

  3. When I mailed a big envelope or box, I would write a letter, put it in a big white envelope with labels for our address and his on it, put the envelope on the outside of the package, and covered it with clear packing tape. Sometimes the post office would require a stamp on the letter if it was not priority mail. Otherwise, you can ship cheaper and pay only first class for the letter with the stamp on the outside.

  4. I sent a few boxes that were for children only hoping he could distribute it to some around him. I put in things like bubble gum, tootsie pops, pencils, stickers, erasers, you get the idea. I was very careful not to send anything that could be a choking hazard for young children and I did not send anything that had USA or the flag all over it.

  5. I sent a lot of stationery and plastic baggies for storage. I bought white lined stationery and envelopes. I put about 5-10 sheets plus envelopes and pen and labels for home in them and included them in all the padded envelopes and some of the boxes.
Right now they are living in Baghdad in unfinished housing without doors, windows, or indoor plumbing. But, I think they are in the same place for awhile. So, I am not sending padded envelopes but boxes as the mail has gotten better.

If your soldier is stationed in a particular area, they may go in and out, but if they have a base, you can probably send some boodle boxes and small containers. Anything you send will be left behind most likely, so I found plastic zip lock bags would probably work as well. If your is asking for pillows, books etc, pack some stuff in a plastic container they can use after opening the box. They probably have room under their cot or at the foot. My philosophy is send it and they will use it!

Hope this helps. I am proud of all of our young people.

What To Wear/Do While Our Offspring Are Deployed

Q:   Are any of you wearing a pin or ribbon while your son or daughter is deployed? I am looking for a simple idea of something to wear.

A:   We are wearing our son's division pin, and posted a blue star banner in our front window. We are also flying an army flag with our nation's colors on our flag pole. A:   This is not something that you can wear, but we have an electric candle in the window of our son's room that we will keep lit until he returns safely. His wife gave us this idea, and she is doing it also in Texas. She is from the Boston area, and someone there gave her the idea. It was suggested that if you have a family member who is serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, to put the candle in a window until that service member returns home. Every time I see our candle, I say a little prayer not only for our son but for all of our troops. A:   I wear a blue star service lapel pin, and display a blue star service banner in the front window of our home.

I have included the URL to the Army Institute of Heraldry web page which explains Department of Defense Regulations as to who is entitled to wear the pins and display the banners. It also contains links to officially licensed internet vendors from whom they can purchased. A:   I have enjoyed knowing what others are doing to honor their soldiers. We did not know about the service flags. Last year I went to a sign company which had signs already fixed with God Bless America. I had our son's name and 82nd Airborne put on it and put it in the front yard. I don't know if that is acceptable or not, but we liked it.

Then I made business cards on my computer that had his picture and the 82nd logo on it. We would give it to people who asked about him. Now, I have put his APO address on the back, email address, and a small list of mailable items for those who might want to mail him something. I also have a card with part of Psalm 91 on it to give to those who would like it.

Using the cards have been a way for people to keep the information, pray for them, and have a visual reminder of our soldier. I have been amazed at the number of people who have told me they still have the first card, or who ask for more.

I used Microsoft Publisher to do it, but any program that would do labels or the business cards 10 to a sheet would do. I went to the website of the 82nd Airborne and saved the logo image to my computer.

I am also going to put up a bulletin board where I can put pictures of other soldiers we know who are deployed, and the list is growing.

Also, a great find was to go to the local TV and newspaper sites and find that they have reporters with the 82nd who are sending back written and video reports. I am printing these off and putting them in a notebook to keep as a record for us and my son. We found it wonderful to see the videos that were on the TV websites and see actually where he was. I imagine not all stations would have the same capacity, but the local newspapers should have articles.

Q:   Who may wear service flag and service lapel buttons.

A:   Here is the answer.

On W-2 Forms

Q:   My son graduated last June and is now deployed to Kuwait. He has had two addresses since leaving West Point: Ft. Knox and an apartment near Ft. Stewart. We, his parents, have also moved since he graduated and we are wondering where his W-2 might be. His other mail (bills, magazines and forwarded mail) has been arriving here at our new address, but we still have not received the W-2. We don't even have a clue as to how to track it down. Does anyone have any suggestions? Even though he was deployed in January, doesn't he need to file his income tax return for 2002? Any help would be appreciated. Our mail to him is taking about 2 weeks each way, so I could ask him, but we won't get the answer for about a month.

A:   Any service member can access their own W-2s (if & when they're ready) from the Army Knowledge Online portal.

Once logged into the secure site, click on 'Self-Service', 'My Finance', 'LES-DFAS-My Pay Link' and it should take you in the right direction. I know this might be difficult for a soldier to perform while serving in a 'hot' zone but it is one way to track down a W-2 or an Leave & Earning Statements (LES).

As for family members accessing this site, I'm not certain that a family member would be able to access this particular portion of the internet (although they can now obtain Army Knowledge Online accounts for email/military info purposes -- follow the info at the first page the link takes you to and follow the instructions for creating a new account).

If the servicemember is unable to reach the internet considering his/her current operational commitments, a spouse or family member should be able to obtain basic Finance/Pay information at DFAS. At least this website should provide you with any POC information (email addresses/phone numbers) you might need. I encourage you to email DFAS whenever possible as it is often quite difficult to get a person on the phone at times (they're also located in Central Time Zone FYI). A:   For a recent Grad, you can call or email Ms. Drena Pedrick at Cadet Pay at WP. She handles the W-2's and will mail it right out or FAX it to you if you give her a FAX number. I had this same problem last year when my son was in an accident and emailed her. She got back to me immediately and was very helpful.

Her number is 845-938-6112 or you can e-mail her with the SSN of the cadet and your mailing address or FAX number.

On Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Attacks

Q:   What is the poop on Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Attacks?

A:   On Nuclear, Bio and Chemical Attacks

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