Lessons Learned from a Son’s First Deployment

Dorie Griggs inventorying the supplies before packing them for shipping. PHOTO CREDIT: Stanley Leary

Dorie Griggs inventorying the supplies before packing them for shipping.
PHOTO CREDIT: Stanley Leary

By Dorie Griggs

My son’s battalion will return home soon. I’ve looked through my photos and notes about the year.

During that time I have mailed over 443 pounds of needed items to both my son, his platoon, and the battalion. That number includes a Christmas mailing providing gift bags for each member of the platoon, a large shipment of items to the battalion headquarters of underwear and socks, as well as Easter, birthday and regular care packages.

Putting these mailings together was a community effort. It helped me pass the time by providing helpful items to our soldiers. Many of my friends sent their own boxes. I know my son and his soldiers appreciated their gifts.

In addition to reviewing the notes and photos of mailings, I’ve been reflecting on all that I have learned this year. I’ll list these in no particular order:

  • While many people in our community are clueless about what it is like to have a love one deploy, so many others are extremely supportive.
  • The unexpected ring of the door bell can make your thoughts race and your heart pound.
  • Missing a Skype call really stinks.
  • Corresponding via cell phone to a deployed soldier in Afghanistan is amazing.
  • My friends and many other who read my blog are some of the most supportive and generous people ever!
  • The battalion commander of my son’s battalion is a very caring person.
  • The Family Readiness Groups are very supportive. Be sure your soldier lists you as an approved contact so you can get the updates.
  • There is no way to fully prepare for a child’s deployment.
  • The pain you feel for a fallen soldiers family is real, but can’t come close to the pain they must feel.
  • Helping to support deployed soldiers by sending packages and notes of support is a great way to deal with my own anxiety about deployment.
  • The various Facebook groups for parents/family of deployed soldiers are a good resource, but some have too much drama.
  • Be careful with who you friend on Facebook.
  • Do not post any information to Facebook that could endanger our deployed soldiers. Cyber stalking does happen.
  • The extended Army family is amazing.
The three goody bags went into a zip lock bag with a note from the children and a card from us.

The three goody bags went into a zip lock bag with a note from the children and a card from us.

Some of our deployed troops do not get mail from home. Send extra so your soldier can share. Don’t judge the families. It is expensive to mail boxes, not everyone can afford to send things.

Never under-estimate the joy a roll of soft toilet paper can bring to a deployed soldier.

The single soldiers return to the US without a lot of support. Support the rear detachment office with your donations for welcome home items for the barracks.

The company, Covert Threads, offer great socks at a good price.

Take items out of their original box and put them into zip lock bags. The soldiers have to burn their trash and the bags can be used to keep dust off of other items.

Quite a few companies offer free shipping to APO addresses. Just Google “free shipping to APO” for a list of companies/organizations.

Cigars are appreciated. Island Smoke Shop is a great resource. A Combat Humidor makes a great gift too.

When people ask what they can do to support you and your soldier, keep a list of needed/wanted items handy. Ask people to help supply them.

JROTC Awards night my son's junior year in high school. LTC Linda Colar was the teacher who taught me about the Army.

JROTC Awards night my son’s junior year in high school. LTC Linda Colar was the teacher who taught me about the Army.

The people at the local Post Office like to hear how my son is doing.

Many of our soldiers can’t send mail or communicate their thanks, but they are very grateful for our support.

A call, Facebook message, or a photo can make your whole week.

Clean underwear and socks are always appreciated.

Blue Star Mothers, Blue Star Families can be a great support network to plug into.

Memories in Stitches will make a Gold Star banner for a fallen soldier’s family. She also makes Blue Star quilts.

You can find Blue Star pins and flags at a reasonable price online.

As hard as it may be, read up on the potential effects of war on the soldiers and the ones who love them.

You can read more from Dorie Griggs on her experience as an Army mom on her blog Dorie Griggs.

She started sharing her journey with Off the Base readers almost three years ago. Her first story was: The Making of a Military Mom.

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3 Responses

  1. Humanity and love, a love of a mother,are the essences of this words and the preoccupation for security of son and all sons, for all soldiers is expressed like only a mother can and know. i thanks her for lesson she has done, for all secret manners to aid she has indicate and to whom we not ever thinks. By her we have the indication of how love is not separate by security but is, on the contrary, one of his essence. Thanks again claudio alpaca

  2. Thank you, Claudio!

  3. […] on the other hand shared the lessons she learned during her son’s […]

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