I was inspired to start Spa Swag because a dear friend, a female Marine Corps Officer who was serving in West Africa did not have access to bath or beauty products. I had previously assumed that when troops deploy, they are able to purchase necessities on base, at the Embassy, or out in town. However, my friend informed me that because there were no U.S. military bases nearby and they were stationed in rural West Africa, they didn’t have anything. She shared a house with several other U.S. officers that only had a bucket shower; they were unable to procure necessities such as shampoo, beauty products, or feminine hygiene products in the nearest town.
I decided to start Spa Swag so that my friend and other deployed women like her would be able to have a little bit of luxury on deployment.
Spa Swag for Warriors is a DMV-based nonprofit dedicated to providing high-quality bath and body products to deployed female service members. Our efforts aim to increase the morale, well-being and retention of women in the military, and reduce the stresses of hardship tours. We were founded in January 2015 and since then have sent dozens of packages to ladies stationed in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific regions.
There is so much negativity in the press about women who serve: PTSD from repeat tours to warzones, sexual assault, and whether women should serve in combat roles. News about women who serve is often negative in tone and highly political, and detracts the brave lady warriors who serve our country – and who ask for no recognition.
Female soldiers put up with a lot on hardship tours – unhealthy conditions, long hours, and extended time away from friends and family. The retention of qualified women in the armed forces is essential to our security as a nation – women who serve bring institutional knowledge, and will serve as mentors and leaders to the next generation of soldiers.
Women serve proudly beside men as sailors, pilots, intelligence officers, and infantry grunts; after a long hard day, we think they deserve the best. Sending a lovely package of thoughtfully-sourced products however, can have an immediate impact on their morale and well-being. Being a strong soldier and feeling feminine do not have to be mutually exclusive.
We made a corporate decision early on to send only the highest quality products to our lady vets; we patronize socially-responsible where possible, and believe our soldiers deserve the same. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to secure product donations from a diverse range of national and DMV-based companies such as: The DryBar, Arbonne, A Girl’s Gotta Spa, Tom’s of Maine, and Murad.
We would also like to highlight two common misperceptions:
First, female soldiers don’t need anything special like bath or beauty items.
Yes, their physical needs are met, but deployed ladies absolutely deserve to have a little bit of luxury in the field because it makes a huge difference when you can feel feminine, clean, and pulled together. We aren’t trying to turn these ladies into made up Barbie dolls – we just want them to feel good about themselves!
Second, with the force drawdown from the Middle East, there aren’t as many troops deployed overseas.
While combat forces have drawn down in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are still troops stationed in hardship postings all over the world. We’ve sent packages to U.S. bases in the Middle East, West Africa, East Africa, and Southeast Asia. We follow the U.S. Department of Defense Hardship Duty Pay policy – if women are assigned to locations where they are eligible for hardship pay, they are eligible to receive our spa swag packages.
We care for those who serve and are committed to celebrating both strength and beauty—one spa swag bag at a time.
For more information on us, and the ladies we serve, please check out our website and connect with us on social media: @SpaSwag on Twitter, Spa_Swag on Instagram, and “Spa Swag for Warriors” on Facebook. We’d also love to hear from you directly at [email protected]