Celebrating With Dads Serving Overseas

Make Father's Day memorable for your military man

If Dad is serving overseas with the military, Father's Day can be a tough time. But even if you can't celebrate together, there are many ways to still feel connected. We've got Father's Day ideas to help you and your family mark this special day.

Send Dad a care package

Families who have spent holidays apart from their military loved ones usually know the ropes about sending packages overseas. If this is the first time you've celebrated a holiday without your military dad, here's what you need to know about sending packages to military personnel.

  • Timing - It will take between two and three weeks before your package reaches Dad. Since Father's Day is a busy time for the mail service, try to send your package at least a month before you want it to arrive.
  • Contents - Depending on where Dad is stationed, there may be certain restrictions on your package. Play it safe. Don't send Father's Day gifts that include pork or pork by-products, racy photos or materials, items of a political nature or alcohol. Check with your local post office for a full list of restrictions.
  • Forms and privacy - Be sure to fill out a customs form completely and accurately. The mail service needs to know what is in the package for security reasons. Letters usually aren't opened unless they're particularly bulky. Some packages are opened during spot checks.
  • Address - When you send Dad's package, be sure to include the Contingency ZIP Code for his unit. For more help addressing a military package, contact your local post office.

What to send

If you're sending Dad a care package as a Father's Day gift, you might want to include:

  • Military gift certificates- Dad can use these gift certificates to buy snacks, phone cards, music and electronics from Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores.
  • Prepaid phone cards- Give Dad the gift of gab on Father's Day. A prepaid phone card lets him call you whenever he has a free moment.
  • Small photos- Larger pictures in glass frames can get broken or bent. Send Dad a small photo of the family that he can carry with him.
  • A video- Get out the camcorder and film a message for Dad. This Father's Day idea lets him see how much the kids are growing and will help him feel like he's right in the action. Send a CD or DVD, or post the video on a private webpage and send Dad the URL.
  • A positive message- Dad misses the family very much and being away from them on Father's Day will be tough for him. With your Father's Day gift, include a note to keep him up to speed on what's happening back home. Try to keep your letter upbeat - tell him you miss him but encourage him not to worry. Let him know about your successes and the good things happening in your life. You might want to add a quote about dads to top it off, and a wish for a safe and quick return.

The most important thing to remember when you have a father serving overseas is that you're not alone - lots of families are missing their military dads too. For a supportive Father's Day idea, get together with other military families you know and have a barbecue. Make a video of the day and give copies to the families to send to their own military dads. It may help make the day a little easier for everyone.

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