As I write this blog, I am amazed at the multitude of options available for personal communication between the homefront and the war zone. Especially when you consider the options from previous wars. Back in WWII, you really only could mail letters. Considering how much troops moved around both in the Pacific and European theaters, I'm sure it took weeks or longer for mail to arrive. In Vietnam, troops and families still mainly relied on snail mail. It probably was more efficient, if for no other reason than the theater of operations was pretty small, but I'm sure it still took a week or more. I'm sure guys in Saigon or the larger posts could communicate via phone, but there were a lot of guys in remote outposts that wouldn't have that option. When you compare that to what we have now, it is mindboggling.
- Telephone. I can make two morale calls a week and my mom can call me twice a week. The connection is made through a military base, such as the Pentagon, in the US, so the only cost is for domestic long distance. I use a calling card my mom gave me, which has a rate of about 3 cents per minute. But that's not the only phone option. Cell phones can be bought in the BX here. I heard the airtime cost is 25 cents per minute. Ouch. (The woman sitting at the computer next to me just dropped her cell phone. What timing!) I have no idea what plans are available for texting, but I'm sure people are doing that too. I've also seen people using satellite phones. I'm sure that rate is over a dollar (or dollars) per minute. I've seen multiple people with them though.
- Computer. There are the obvious methods of e-mail and blogging. I have also chatted with my brother, friends, and even my mom! I am still active, as are many here, on the social networking site Facebook. I can't access Facebook at work, so I am less active on it than when I am in the States, but it is an option. One that I don't do but is very popular here is Skype. It is a very low cost way to have video teleconferences. You'll see somebody put a webcam on a computer and soon he/she is talking with and looking at his/her spouse and kids. Just amazing and great for the family back home and the person here.
- And of course the old standby, snail mail. My mom mailed packages to me and they have arrived in less than a week. Letter mail is just as fast or faster. Of course, I also can get my magazine subscriptions and bills too.
I'm certainly grateful for all the options. Being able to communicate with family and friends is a huge morale boost, regardless of which method we use.