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My Dad’s Letters

Military life can be both miserable and rewarding.  The reward comes from working with great people on great teams accomplishing great missions.  The misery comes from austere locations, uncomfortable situations, and separation from loved ones.

One thing that makes every aspect of military life more bearable is the ability to keep in touch with friends and family.  But many times, the only way to connect is through the mail.

importance of military mail in basic training

When I was a recruit, going through my initial military training, I got mail just like everyone else did.  It was simultaneously the best and worst time of the day:

  • Best – because it was my connection to the outside world, the world that didn’t include drill instructors and smelly recruits;
  • Worst – because there was very little time to read and enjoy the stories, jokes, and gossip sent by friends and family.

basic training recruit training boot camp mail call

It was the same for everybody.  Mail was our escape.  It was our sanity check.  It gave us hope that there was life after recruit training.

For some, mail call brought snacks that they couldn’t keep.

For others, it meant envelopes soaked in perfume or really crafty, artistic packages…which invariably led to some ‘gentle’ ridicule from the instructors.

crafty military care package

Some got great news, like the birth of a child.

Others got horrible news, like the death of a parent.

Now matter how you look at it, mail call was (and is) how recruits stayed connected with the important people and events in their lives.  And it was all the more important during the holidays.

The mail I got at basic left a lasting impact on me.

Specifically, in the letters from my dad I received something far more precious than anything I’d ever requested for a birthday or for Christmas.impact of father on son

Something more valuable than a lesson on how to throw or catch, more timeless than a lesson on fishing.

What my dad sent to me during my three months of boot camp was powerful, wonderful, mysterious.

In his letters to me my father wrote of how proud he was of the man I was becoming.  He told me how much he loved me.  He wrote about how confidently he believed that no matter what obstacles I faced in life, I could overcome and succeed.

Through his letters, my dad gave me permission to be strong, to win, to lead.  I became a better recruit, and ultimately a better warrior because of those letters.

father's impact on soldier through military mail

“My father gave me the greatest gift…he believed in me.”~Jim Valvano

Thanks for believing, Dad.  And thanks for writing.

Join the Sandboxx community here to make an impact on your service member.

SANDBOXX Customer Testimonial: Featuring USMC Parent

new marines pass in review at mcrd san diego

I love this app! I wish I had checked it out earlier.

How to send Letters to Boot Camp

marine holding sandboxx letter

Last week we asked Whitney, whose fiancé is currently in Marine Corps boot camp in Parris Island, if she had any feedback after sending her fiancé letters from the Sandboxx app. Thanks to Whitney for allowing us to post her feedback and why she loves using Sandboxx.

The Sandboxx app is amazing! It has saved soooo much money now on stamps and envelopes for me and my recruit. Sandboxx gives a free return envelope and it’s pre-stamped.

Also I don’t have to worry about waking up at the crack of dawn and rushing to print out my letters ‘cause I write too much, then try to make it to the mailbox before the mail truck comes.


With Sandboxx they make your letters look amazing and really neat. And the pictures are the BIGGEST help ever!! I am tired of wasting my money on CVS pictures and having to make them look right…but I like how Sandboxx prints out my pictures. No more hassle with stamps and having to pay a ridiculous amount for a book of stamps. It’s killing me here, finally I found the amazing SANDBOXX APP! And I want to give a BIG THANK YOU TO THE AMAZING HELP TEAM! Through all of this my fiancé and I will never forget y’all!

Sandboxx is an app for service members, recruits, their families and supporters. It was created by two Marines and a Marine father who wanted to make it easier to stay in touch with family when off-the-grid without a phone and with units when they were back home. Download Sandboxx free.

Top 6 Photos to Send Recruits at Basic Training & Boot Camp

top photos to send to your recruit trainee at basic training boot camp

Families can send messages and photos from the Sandboxx app to service members and recruits who are off-the-grid without their phones. Just type your message on the app, add a photo and hit send. We’ll print and send your letter and include a stamped, addressed return envelope. 

Last week on Sandboxx, a mother of a new recruit asked what kind of photos she should send her son. She wanted to keep him motivated and keep his spirits up. We decided to ask some new Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coasties what they liked to receive the most from family and friends.

What they said:

1. Pet Photos

The number one response that we received was pictures of their animals.


2. Selfies

An advantage of Sandboxx is that you can send photos from anywhere, anytime. Perfect for sending vacation selfies!


3. Family photos

Recruits like knowing that they haven’t been forgotten by the rest of the family.


4. Inspirational Quotes

It goes without saying that basic training can be stressful. It’s important to encourage recruits and send them motivation.


5. Some humor….


6. That the civilian-world isn’t really that exciting…

(This is actually a photo from our first office)


All of our recently graduated service members made the same comment – the most important thing is remembering to write. The photos are just the bonus!

Sandboxx is an app for service members, recruits, their families and supporters. It was created by two Marines and a Marine father who wanted to make it easier to stay in touch with family when off-the-grid without a phone and with units when they were back home. Download Sandboxx free.