Technology Changes Communication Among Military Families
Special Series: Dealing with Deployment Part 3
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The power of technology has launched our military into the future.
WiFi keeps most military bases overseas up and running, and at the same time, connects soldiers with their loved ones 24 hours a day.
Officials say internet access while deployed is both a gift and a curse.
For military families, you used to send a letter to your soldier and hope to get one back.
These days when a military member is sent overseas they get to bring phones with them.
Lucky for them, smart phones work all over the world which means family is only a text or phone call away.
“It really keeps you connected,” said Master Sergeant Josh Fish with the U.S. Air Force 148th Fighter Wing. “You don’t feel like you’re missing as much.”
Pictures and videos of your wife and kids are the next best thing when you’re living thousands of miles away.
“He’s been to a couple different ports, Dubai and Singapore,” said Carissa Frankel, wife of deployed U.S. Navy Second Class Petty Officer.
“In 2007 I went to Kuwait for four months and this last year I was in Afghanistan for six,” said Fish.
Soldiers scattered throughout the world now have a way to stay connected to home through social media.
“Of course I’m taking a bazillion pictures and putting them everywhere so that he can see how much she grows each day,” said Frankel.
Carissa Frankel’s husband Brian is aboard the U.S.S Carl Vinson, and just a few days ago he met his newborn daughter Zarina via Skype.
“Especially now with this one, I want to call him and tell him, ‘Hey your daughter did this,’ or something fun, but it’s hard not being able to do that,” said Frankel.
Military families used to depend on a stamp on an envelope to keep in touch.
“Technology really wasn’t available as it is now and we were using calling cards,” laughed 148th Fighter Wing Captain, Jodi Kiminski.
Kiminski is the one who briefs soldiers on what they can and can do with personal technology before they leave.
“Technology is good and bad,” said Kiminiski. “It’s great where we can keep in tough it’s bad because you’re vulnerable to certain things.”
She sees Facebook as a double edged sword.
“There’s a flip side to the Facebook where we do not encourage or do not want our military members while deployed to put information out there that could be critical,” said Kiminiski.
While you’re able to see pictures and communicate, freely giving away too much information could be risky for military families home alone.
“As proud as family members are of our service members overseas, we don’t want them to of course put any information out there that could compromise any situation they’re in,” Kiminski said.
For the soldiers working hard across the world, seeing pictures and videos is great, but there’s nothing like getting a hand written letter, a Picasso-like drawing or your favorite treat to remind you of home.
“She knows that as soon as the daddy box is out she gets to put her pictures in there that she colors for him and anything else she wants to send to daddy,” said Frankel.
“I think it felt like home,” said Jill Fish, wife of Master Sergeant Fish. “I think it felt good just to have something that we got and the kids made and something just for him.”
Having a custom made gift is a comfort every soldier can relate to, but on the flip side they know life in the states is moving on without them.
“You see pictures of kids playing out in the yard and playing in the sand box and having birthday parties and that’s tough sometimes,” said Josh Fish.
The only way to watch your kids grow up is through a screen.
Birthdays, holidays, and the little moments captured and shared overseas has changed deployments forever.
“You have that opportunity to keep in touch and keep track of everything that is going on so it makes the whole deployment process a whole lot easier,” said Kiminski.
Military officials say keeping up with the technology curve has had its challenges, but they know it’ll only keep changing and they say for the better.