By Gina Vaile/Managing editor

With a new war fought by the United States Military, many Americans are left feeling uncertain as to what they can do to support efforts. In an open discussion on military deployments led by the Eastern Counseling Center and the department of military science, the question was raised “what can we do?”

Eastern Counselor Michalle Rice said oftentimes during conflict or national tragedy, citizens feel the urge to do something.

According to the panelists at the meeting, sending mail and packages to soldiers is an easy way to participate.

Maj. Lance Patterson, from the department of military science, said every letter or package helps with soldier morale.

“Having something you can fold up and put it in your pocket means a lot,” he said. “And the mail runs, every day, even in combat.”

Patterson said soldiers look forward to hearing what is going on back home in letters and are excited to receive care packages. Even if the soldier doesn’t know the sender.

Patterson told those who attended the meeting that he met his wife Trish through correspondences during the First Gulf War.

He said any letter or package is appreciated. Sometimes, he laughed, “you might find the love of your life.”

Dawn Lewis, director of the Daniel Boone Chapter of the Red Cross, said the agency will help family and friends ship care packages to units overseas.

“It’s important to remember the soldiers who don’t have family to send mail. It’s always nice to send extra for the other soldiers in the unit,” said Donna Bentley, a military wife who is involved in military support groups in Kentucky.

Students and organizations who are interested in sending care packages to loved ones, or who perhaps would like to adopt a unit need to be advised on what to send and what not to send, according to Lewis.

The Red Cross has developed a list of items deemed appropriate to send. Items include non-perishable food, extra underwear, socks, and games to keep soldiers occupied. In addition, chapsticks and lotions are popular. Also recommended are laminated pictures and personalized cards.

Literature provided by the Red Cross advises those sending packages through the United Postal Service should send packages Priority Shipping or insured Regular Parcel Post. Shipping takes at least seven-10 days, but could take as long as three weeks.

The Red Cross advises liquid or powdered substances be wrapped in plastic bags.

It may also be beneficial to tape heavier objects to the sides of boxes so that smaller items inside do not get crushed during the mail haul overseas.