The greatest morale builder for deployed service members is hearing from family and loved ones. Staying connected can help keep your relationship strong until everyone is reunited. Whether you’re a significant other, parent, family member or friend of a deployed service member, the following tips and ideas can help you stay in touch during deployment.
Ways to Connect
Though communication may be challenging and unpredictable, there are plenty of ways to stay connected throughout a deployment, including but not limited to:
- Letters: Letters offer service members something tangible that they can reread during lonely moments, or when other methods of communication aren’t available.
- Care packages: Sending care packages can help deliver a little piece of home to service members. Learn about special supplies and services available through the U.S. Postal Service, like flat rate boxes and domestic shipping prices if you use Army, Fleet or Diplomatic Post Office addresses, also known as APO, FPO and DPO.
- Email: Email can be an easy way to keep in touch if your service member has access to internet. Remember to send small, mostly text emails to ensure deliverability under military network restrictions.
- Phone: Service members may not always have access to a phone during deployment. Be sure to check rates with your network provider or try using an online service for international calls.
- Social media: Social media can be an informal and fun way to connect. Service members should check with their command to see what options might be available and what security restrictions apply.
- Audio/video messages: Videos and voice recordings are a great way to hear one another’s voice and check in on day-to-day life. Your service member’s unit command may organize video conferences or you can use an online service for video conferencing.
Regardless of how you choose to stay in touch, keep these tips in mind when it comes to communicating during deployment.
Connect often and about anything
Letters, emails and conversations (when possible) can include details on day-to-day activities, or they can just be short “thinking of you” messages. Sharing daily happenings from home can help the two of you feel closer — no matter the topic. When possible, express love and appreciation. Letting your service member know how much you enjoy hearing from them can help them remain positive.
Be honest, but sensitive
While this time apart might be challenging or difficult for you, try to remain positive when you speak with your service member. Avoid wasting your limited conversation time on arguments. If you’re angry, take time to cool off before writing anything. Focus on sharing exciting updates and good news with your service member — this will give them something to look forward to celebrating when they return. Your service member may not always be able to share details of what they’re doing, even if they’d like to. Let them share as much as they can and offer updates from home rather than prying or asking additional questions.
Recognize the limitations of online communication
Remember that it can be easy to misinterpret messages without seeing someone’s body language or hearing their voice. Be careful with how you phrase messages and try to assume the best when reading what is sent to you. Most importantly, be sure to keep operations and personal security guidelines top-of-mind when communicating online.
Accept that everything may not go as planned
Your deployed service member may be in an area with limited mail or internet, and there might be times when your communication plan falls through. Be patient and understand that this doesn’t mean that they don’t care or that you should worry. Rather than feeling frustrated, try to channel your time and energy into another way of reaching out, like a care package or a note.
Involve family and loved ones
Think of creative ways to include children, friends and extended family members in making care packages or writing letters. This can be meaningful for your service member and a fun way for everyone to come together to show support. Learn more about supporting kids during deployment.
Know where to go for more information
Stay informed during deployment by communicating with the command, the rear detachment commander and other reliable resources available to you such as live chat.
Live chat is a convenient way for you to get the information you need from Military OneSource. Type in your question and receive a quick response from a Military OneSource consultant. Live chat is available 24/7/365 from the convenience of your computer, smart phone or tablet device.