Operation Gunner Mail has begun!

April 7, 2008 at 10:36 pm | Posted in ABW Family, Deployment, Gunner Mail | 4 Comments

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that I started this blog at the urging of my friend ABW (aka Army Blogger Wife- she’s linked on the sidebar). Her husband (known in Blogland as Gunner) is deployed to Iraq right now. He actually came by the blog and commented today! It was my second-ever visit from someone in Iraq. The other was a milblogger who followed the link when I commented on his blog. He didn’t comment here, but has responded to comments on his own blog and hasn’t banned me, so I guess I passed the sanity test. Anyway, back to the point of this post.

I am very happy to report that so far I am on target for Gunner Mail this deployment. I did pretty well his first time in Iraq and then slacked horribly the second deployment. There were some personal reasons (that just don’t matter at this point), but I was not happy with my performance. My goal is a “real” letter mailed every week, usually written on Sunday, with a shorter letter or note later in the week. The second mail item each week usually includes one of the bizarre news stories I post here from time to time and a quick note from me. My goal with packages is to send one every two weeks. This has been the plan/goal for each deployment, but my execution of the plan has been quite variable.

ABW sent his address out a while back, but said we were supposed to wait until April 1st to send mail. So, technically I’ve only had a week to send mail so far. I’m doing well- two real letters and a package. The package is something I’ve sent each deployment that I think is fairly unique, but a really good idea for deployed soldiers with kids. I sent these during the first deployment and ABW/Gunner have requested them again for deployments two and three.

I think I need to give you a little background first. ABW and I have had a long-distance friendship since she moved to Germany with Gunner in 1995. We’ve both moved around since then and have been on the same continent since 1998, but haven’t been in the same state. When Gunner was stationed in WA, I got into the habit of sending their daughter Em mail (she’s the oldest and the only one they had at the time). She couldn’t read yet, but loved getting mail and would run around holding her cards until they were in tatters and ABW had to take them away. I have an aunt who wrote to me when I was little and I think that it was the biggest motivator for learning how to read- I just had to be able to read my own mail! For a while at least I sent Em mail so she might also be inspired to learn to read.

Back to the packages. Em takes after her godmother and was a precocious reader, so she was able to read her own mail during Gunner’s first deployment. However, how much can a soldier really come up with to write to a 5 year old from a war zone? Long before Gunner deployed, I had found some really cute postcard books at a discount store. Some had Beatrix Potter scenes and others were Winnie the Pooh. I bought all the copies I could find and started sending them to Em and the daughter of another good friend. When Gunner’s deployment rolled around, I decided he needed them more than I did, so I sent the books along to him and found some new ones to supplement with online (PowerPuff Girls). He sent each girl their own postcard regularly during the first deployment (pretty much weekly) and continued to mail them the second deployment. By the second deployment I had to start buying new postcards. I couldn’t find the same type of books as the first time (each one had something like 40 postcards in it) but I did find some good ones through amazon. They were small booklets (each had about 6 postcards) but there were a lot of different “themes” available for purchase.

Saturday night on the phone ABW mentioned that she needed to find postcards for Gunner to send to the kids. I was one step ahead of her- I had already been looking online! I wasn’t very happy with the selection at amazon. They didn’t even have some of the ones I bought during the second deployment anymore. So, I tried googling the publisher- Dover publications. They have a great website and you can order directly from them. The postcard booklets can be found here.

I ended up ordering 22 booklets of the postcards. I know, I know, it sounds like I went crazy…but I really didn’t. Each one only has six postcards, so with three kids that means a single book will last two mailings. Plus, one of the booklets isn’t even for the kids- it’s thank you cards that Gunner can send out to the people who have adopted him and are sending packages (if he’s willing to send out country thank you postcards that is). Here are some of the ones I sent to Gunner to use for the kids:

I also resent these two patriotic themed selections:

The patriotic ones were an ABW favorite the last deployment.

These postcards should be enough to take Gunner to midtour leave. The coolest part is that a lot of the designs were on clearance sale at the publisher’s website (the plaid ones were only 40 cents for a booklet of six). Even with shipping charges I ended up at under $25 for the whole order! I considered adding some of these, but ABW talked me out of it.

If any of you know a deployed soldier with kids to write to (his/her own, nieces/nephews, etc.), postcards are a really great option. They can send mail to the kids regularly without writer’s block causing them to feel the need to pull out what little hair they have left. Some of these are available through amazon and I’m sure you can find them at other online retailers as well. However, I don’t think you’ll do much better than the prices at the publisher’s website. They have even more options there than what I have shown in this post and you should be able to come up with something to use for just about any age/gender combination. Hopefully some of you will find this information useful.

P.S.- Gunner already knows these are on the way, so writing about them won’t spoil the surprise. However, in the future you’ll probably have to wait to hear about his boxes until after they are received. I have a few special surprises planned (including one ABW has been helping me with since September) and I’m not going to take a chance on him finding out the contents before he opens the packages!

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4 Comments »

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  1. Dang. You send Gunner more mail than I send my own husband! I send him one letter a week and (aim) to send him one package a month! Of course, I HATE going to the post office.

  2. I’ve always loved receiving and sending mail and have a slight obsession with stationery (I “let” myself stock up each time he deploys). This is only part of why I try to keep up my schedule though. The biggest reason is that it’s one thing I can do for Gunner and for ABW.

    It’s hard to find things to do to help support her as a friend from almost 2,000 miles away. Mail for Gunner is something I can do. She knows he’s getting something and he knows I’ll keep writing even if I don’t hear from him. I hear his letters from her over the phone anyway and that’s enough for me :)

    One “cheat” I use withe packages is ordering online from time to time. Hickory Farms will ship direct to APO addresses (and you can get a discount if you have AAA) and I’ve also sent things from the Popcorn Factory before as well. This makes a trip to the post office unnecessary!

    The truth is, I didn’t meet my goal the last deployment. I’m determined to succeed this one though!

  3. Bravo for you!! You set a mean pace for the rest of us. I know Gunner will share the spoils, so I don’t mind sending extras. I have taken your suggestion and am sending some greeting cards he can share around for the guys to send their families – anniversary, BD, Mother’s Day / Father’s Day cards, etc. I hope to make homemade cookies a little more often than before….uh…o.k…..a whole lot more often than I did before.
    Thanks, Friend, for supporting Gunner and his family.

  4. Those postcards are such a good idea! I’m sure your children love receiving them!


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