When service members were deployed overseas, or even across the US, they had to rely on handwritten letters home and the occasional garbled telephone call to loved ones. Currently, the United States has personnel deployed in 75% of the World’s Nations. According to a 2014 publication of the Army Times, nearly 11,000 troops, which is higher than anticipated, were in Afghanistan at the beginning of the New Year and many more are in Europe, The Pacific, Korea and Iraq.
As deployments take more and more service men and women away from home, communication is critical. Fortunately, communication has improved thanks to modern technology. The Internet has transformed the lines of communication between service personnel and their families.
90% of Service Members Use Email To Stay In Touch
Email is one of the top technologies used by military members and their families. Email reduces communication times from weeks to just seconds. Email is spontaneous and while it is not a handwritten letter from a loved one, it is just as reassuring, treasured and relieving. A 2010 survey conducted and published by Blue Star Families reported that nearly 90% of military members and their families used email to stay in touch.
Email use depends on the geographic location of the service member and the availability of Internet access. A popular service, which the DoD cut in September 2013, was Moto Mail. It was a way for deployed service men and women to receive letters from home even if they did not have Internet access. The service allowed family members to write out letters like emails, and then the service printed the letters and had the letters delivered to millions of service members over nearly a decade.
Communicating Through Instant Messaging
Instant messaging, such as MSN, Skype and Yahoo! allow families to stay connected instantly as well. Service members and their families can talk just as they would via text message or face-to-face conversation. Instant Messaging allows families to rest assured knowing their loved ones are on the other end, even if they cannot see his/her face.
Face-to-Face Communication Through Web Cams
Web cams and YouTube are becoming one of the most important tools for communication between military members and their families. A familiar face on the screen is comforting for each person involved, and it allows young children to remain connected to their parent(s). Many times, men have to leave pregnant spouses and cannot return until after the child is older, or parents have to miss crucial developmental stages, and the web cam makes it easier.
The web cam not only puts families face-to-face, but it is also a tool to help children feel connected to their parent(s). Families can record short video clips and include them in emails, or they can upload larger files, such as birthday parties, first steps, recitals, and games, to internet channels such as You Tube, blogs and family web sites.
Communication is important for the psyche of both the service member and each family member. Communication allows deployed family members to feel at ease knowing their loved one is just a quick message or video call away.