Guest Author - Tiffany Manley
Gone are the days of snail mail being the only way to communicate with your deployed loved one. Technology has made a powerful impact on how families can communicate with one another during deployment.
Of course the most common way that comes to mind is email. Just about everyone emails nowadays. It is a wonderful thing to be able to email your loved one and sometimes, get an instant response back. Email is a great way to keep in touch on a daily basis and inform the service member of various happenings. Pictures (if kept small and a few per email) can be sent, as well as scanned copies of childrenís schoolwork can be sent this way as well. Email is nice to have to get that somewhat instant gratification. Itís also helpful when dealing with time sensitive information.
Another mode of communication is the old standby, letters via snail mail. Most people still use snail mail to send things like cards, but few use it as their primary means of communication. One of these reasons is because it is not as instantaneous as email. Something to keep in mind, though, is that most service members still enjoy getting something in the mail, something small every once in a while, in addition to their care packages.
Care packages are another way to communicate with your deployed service member. You can send them snacks, kidsí artwork and schoolwork, favorite comfort items and tons of other things. Check out the care packages section of the site for links to several sites with care package ideas.
Phone calls are yet another method of staying in touch with your deployed loved one. While you canít call them, they can call you. It can get costly, but itís also a great way to hear their voice. Sometimes it just helps make an unbearable day a bit more bearable. Sometimes you need to discuss something that is just easier to discuss over the phone versus email.
Whatever the reason, itís always nice to talk to them. Create a schedule before they leave so that there is no misunderstanding on when youíd like a phone call. Be sure to budget for phone calls though.
Some people find it helpful to keep a journal while their loved one is deployed. They write down all their thoughts during the deployment and share it with the service member when they return.
Whatever methods you choose, be sure to discuss them before the deployment. This lets each person know what expectations there are and avoids some confusion during the deployment. As always, keep in mind that operational commitments may interfere with communication at times and that your loved one will be in touch with you as soon as they can.