For safety reasons, you will not always know exactly when and where your son or daughter will be deployed. Deployment dates are not advertised, and unit locations may be classified for sensitive missions.
That’s the reason the key for parents to successfully handle deployment is communication. Failing to talk to one another can make separation stressful and overwhelming, especially for the Army Moms.
It is important to work together as parents through frequent conversations. Part of the challenge in ensuring that this happens is planning out times to talk. This can require flexibility for those deployed and their families at home. The other task is finding a means of communication that works for everyone.
Below is our top of the best ways to connect with your soldier regularly to feel close to each other and make deployment less stressful.
Skype or FaceTime
If your child has access to a laptop or smartphone with Wi-Fi, FaceTime and Skype are effective ways to communicate regularly. They are completely free and combine the personal touch of a phone call with face-to-face interaction. Plan a time when all of the family members can gather around the computer and say hello to your Soldier. Even a few minutes a day can drastically improve how up to date you are with each other's lives.
There's nothing more personal than hearing your child’s voice after being away from each other for a long time. Phone calls are the perfect form of communication for special occasions, such as birthdays or holidays. Your child will get very excited at the idea of hearing your voice and catching him or her up on your lives in real-time.
However, as long-distance phone calls can be very expensive, it may be best to save them just for these occasions. It is also a good idea to check with your phone company for military discounts, as many major businesses offer these to make communication less expensive for military families.
“The Army goes out of their way to make telephone access possible from their end to us, and email whenever possible, and they do that as quickly as possible. So communication has always been readily available.”
— Cathy, mother of Staff Sergeant John Martin
Email is one of the fastest ways to communicate with your loved one during active duty. You and your children can quickly share experiences that he or she missed. They can also attach photographs and videos to give him or her visuals. Just make sure that your soldier has service wherever he or she is deployed. Many email servers show when the message has been opened and read so you can confirm that your child received your note.
“I talk to Antoine about once a week on the telephone. We talk quite frequently, and we do a lot of emails with him and his wife also. So we stay in communication on a frequent basis and about once every six months, we’re able to visit in person.”
— Phyllis, mother of Specialist Antoine Grimes
Communicating through writing is often thought of as a more traditional form of keeping in contact with someone. However, there is sentimental value in sitting down with a pen and paper and sharing your thoughts and stories.
MotherProud.com suggested that numbering each letter so your child knows which ones to read first will prevent any problems from occurring if the mail arrives at a slower pace than you write, as this is one of the reasons why people tend to choose other forms of communication during deployment.
“The letters to Jodie were important, but sometimes the letters back were pretty darn important. Because they are so busy, when they can find the time to jot a note down, it’s really good.”
— Buddy, father of Specialist Jodie Wood
Parents magazine recommended care packages as another great way to keep in touch with loved ones on special occasions. On your soldier’s birthday, for example, it can be nice to send a care package filled with his or her favorite snacks and items that he or she may miss while away, such as home-baked cookies.
Including pictures of the family can serve as a pleasant surprise for your child who may not have seen the family members in a while. Be sure to send the package with plenty of time to arrive if you are sending it for a special date to make sure it gets there on time.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT SAFE COMMUNICATION
It’s extremely important for both family members and Soldiers to communicate responsibly, and avoid disclosing details in letters or phone calls that could jeopardize a mission. The following is a list of information you should NOT disclose in a letter, phone call, or email or discuss with ANYONE in a public setting, such as an Internet forum:
- Unit mission, or number of personnel assigned to a unit
- Deployment areas and times
- Port call dates
- Special shore deployments
- Unit morale or personnel problems
- Troop movements
- Military intentions, capabilities, or operations
- The location of your family during deployment
- The planned return date for service members
Please note: During training — or while stationed overseas — there may be unavoidable limits to the amount of communication your son or daughter will be able to have with you.