Keywords: Communication, Communications, Deployment
|Years ago, letters were the most popular way to communicate with Soldiers in the field – along with the occasional phone call. Nowadays, email is most often used. Before a Soldier deploys, be sure that he/she (and those with whom he/she wishes to correspond) has or establishes an email account. There are many free email services available, to include Army Knowledge Online (AKO). All Soldiers are authorized an email account on AKO and can sponsor spouses, family members and other individuals for a guest account. AKO is secure and accessible from any Internet connection. The Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) program typically provides trailers or other structures to house computers for Soldiers to use on deployments. Although there are time limitations and other restrictions, most deployed Soldiers will have some access to the Internet. Recognize that this is a privilege and may not always be available, particularly for those Soldiers who are undergoing movements during their deployment or in times of combat operations. Do not misinterpret this as the Soldier’s lack of desire to respond.
Letters and care packages are also good ways to communicate with your deployed Soldier. While they are not always as timely as email, the written word provides a more personal touch and a letter is something a Soldier can hang on to and reread as often as she/he desires. Children’s drawings and photographs also provide a “touch of home” to the deployed mom or dad. Be sure to obtain the Soldier’s mailing address prior to his/her deployment, as it will be different from his/her home station address. Be aware of any mailing restrictions that may be in effect where the Soldier is deployed.
Phone calls are always welcomed, but it is the Soldier who generally must make the call unless the deployment is local and the Soldier has access to a phone (e.g., at a desk or available on a cell phone). MWR trailers are also set up with phones during deployments to allow Soldiers to call home using calling cards and/or to make free morale calls via a military Defense Switched Network (DSN) line. Phone cards are generally available for purchase via the Army Air Force Exchange System (AAFES) facilities, but Soldiers may want to consider purchasing one before they deploy.