During deployment it’s important for families to use both old and new methods to maintain connections with military members.
To ease the transition, families should have a communication strategy prior to deployment.
Traditional methods of communication should not be overlooked because of new options that are available. Letters, care packages and phone calls are still great means of communication with a deployed service member.
Service members will always appreciate letters from home. When there are extended periods without contact they often reread letters to boost morale. Sending a handwritten letter is emotionally satisfying, while still inexpensive.
Care packages are important. to help service members feel connected with their families. During deployment they provide a small piece of home to help ease loneliness.
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With proper preparation service members may be able to use the Internet to stay connected to their families. Innovations in technology allow families to communicate in new ways.
For deployed military members an email is the electronic version of the letter. Providing service members with quick and up-to-date information, email allows families to keep everyone on the same page.
Free email accounts are available through Yahoo, Google or Hotmail providers.
Instant messenger services are convenient communication tools for active duty military members. Programs like Skype, Yahoo Messenger and AOL Messenger provide users with video and voice options along with the basic messaging tools.
Service members should keep in mind that there are differences in features among the services. Families should choose the instant messaging program that best fits their needs.
Skype provides the most comprehensive service. As long as both parties have a webcam and microphone video conferencing is possible. For families with children this provides a sense of togetherness and allows them to see their parent’s face.
Skype provides many services, including:
• Instant messages
• SMS Text messages
• Video Calls
• Skype to Skype calls
• Low-cost calls to landlines and cell phones around the world
• Skype Voice Mail
Military members should check to see what options are available where they will be deployed; they may be allowed to bring a laptop or cell phone..
An additional option for communication is DSN (Defense Switched Networks) lines that are provided by the military. Service members that are near a base with a DSN network can call a base located close to their family. Even though conversations are usually brief, DSN lines are additional options for sustaining a connection during the challenging separation.
A Cautious Note:
Service members deploying for the first time should take careful note of Operational Security procedures when it comes to communicating with family and friends back home.
Photo thanks to FamilyMWR via Flickr Creative Commons
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