Hopefully, you and your service member had a discussion during pre-deployment about how often you'll communicate while he's gone. If you didn't do this before he left, it's not too late to try to establish these expectations now. However, even with a tentative calling or emailing schedule, both you and your service member may struggle to maintain the routine. As much as service members would like to establish a schedule for reaching their loved ones, their missions in a combat zone or operational activities may interfere. As a result, many spouses and partners carry cell phones with them at all times to avoid missing their service member's call.

    Communication Tip

    Try to avoid comparing how often you speak with your service member with how often somebody else says they are speaking with their service member. Focus on what works for you and your service member and don't worry about how other couples are communicating.

    Schedules Can be Hard to Maintain

    If you don't hear from your service member at a pre-determined time, don't worry and don't take it personally. Your service member is probably as anxious to communicate with you as you are with him. Once deployed and actively engaged in his unit's missions, there's little that your service member can do to control when he'll be able to call. This unpredictability can be a source of frustration for some loved ones, particularly since there's not a phone number at which they can reach their service member. This is where Internet access is truly helpful for most service members.

    "I try to understand that although my husband does miss me, he may not want to spend his whole deployment on the computer with me. It can make it harder for him. He needs his ways of dealing and to get his mind off of the deployment. If the chow hall is having a themed dinner he may spend more time there with co-workers and friends than on the computer with me. He may spend more time with his friends at the gym. This doesn't mean that he does not want to talk to his family." –Air Force spouse

    Communicating 24/7 via the Internet

    Some duty stations have Internet access with varying degrees of reliability. Many service members don't take any chances and choose to bring their own laptops so they can use email and instant messenger (IM) while they're gone. Spouses and partners report that they derive a great deal of comfort from being able to contact their service member online whenever they want. Another advantage of having Internet access is that it generally allows the service member and partner to communicate for longer periods of time.

    Beware, however, that there is a risk of misunderstanding when communicating online. For example, you cannot read body language through an email and tone can be mistaken, causing confusion and conflict. Whenever possible, both you and your service member should give one another the benefit of the doubt when something that is expressed in writing just "doesn't seem right." This can save both of you a great deal of frustration. Understanding the limits of the medium goes a long way toward preserving harmony while apart.

    The Internet also enables service members to free video and voice software–such as Skype (www.skype.com)–for face-to-face talking. Sometimes, unreliable connections can make video-conferencing difficult, in which case you can switch to voice or text chatting only. Many military installations overseas also offer free video conferencing to their service members.

    "Usually we just Skype–that is probably the biggest tool deployed families have. Skype has probably saved marriages and families. It takes away so much separation." –Air Force spouse

    "My husband got to see our daughter crawl for her first time by chance–she was on the floor in the background while video chatting and she started crawling. He got to see her walk for the first time (for him) while on video chat, too." –Army spouse

    The Power of Social Media

    Facebook and other forms of social media can be terrific vehicles to communicate with your service member, family, and friends. Posting photos and deployment updates can streamline and personalize all communication. Just remember to maintain operational and personal security while enjoying the benefits of online technology!

    The Limits of the Phone

    If your service member does not have Internet access, be prepared for brief phone calls. Your service member may be relying on the Defense Satellite Network (DSN), which limits call lengths to fifteen or thirty minutes. During these calls, it's important to use that time to convey positive and supportive messages to one another, encouraging each other to persevere in the relationship. Any problems that you may be having as a couple are not likely to be resolved while your service member is deployed. Think about the meaningful issues you'd like to discuss and focus on those.

    "Make the most out of every chance you do have for communication. Don't spend the twenty minutes you have to talk on the phone arguing over small stuff; you will regret it in the long run." –Air Force spouse

    Four Steps to Constructive Problem-Solving

    Step 1: Gentle Start-Up Step 2: Perspective Bring up issues gently so your partner doesn't feel defensive.
    1. Start with "I feel" or I'm concerned"; share how the problem affects you emotionally.
    2. Describe what's wrong in objective terms. "I'm concerned that the bills didn't get paid on time this month."
    3. State what you need in a positive way. "I need to know that someone is paying close attention to our family's on time."
    In every argument there are two ways of seeing things–yours and your partner's. It is important to understand your partner's point of view.
    1. Set aside your own agenda and learn to hear and respect what your partner is saying.
    2. Validate what is being said. For example, "I can see how you would feel that way…"
    3. Ask questions to clarify what your partner is saying: "Could you explain what you're thinking in a different way?"
    Step 3: Compromise Step 4: Recover from Conflict Compromise is an agreement you and your partner can both live with and get behind without reservations.
    1. Describe your core need–what you cannot compromise on.
    2. Listen to your partner describe his core need and validate why it is important to him.about.
    3. Describe what you are flexible about.
    4. Listen to what your partner is flexible about.
    5. Come to a compromise by paying attention to the places where your flexibility overlaps.
    Recovering from conflict is fixing things between you and your partner after a disagreement–after you have both calmed down.
    1. Describe what your feelings were during the argument.
    2. Listen to and validate your partner's feelings.
    3. Take some responsibility for your own part in the argument and share it with your partner.
    4. Discuss ways to improve the conversation the next time you talk about the issue and share that with your partner.

    Choose Your Topics Carefully

    Use this time apart to focus on what you love about your service member. Any negativity conveyed in the phone call may linger and haunt both of you. The last thing you want is your service member distracted or distraught when he's headed out on his next mission. And, you definitely don't want to worry about or regret what was said, or not said, the last time you were able to talk to your service member on the phone.

    "You have to communicate as often as possible, be honest with each other about what you are feeling, and be sensitive to the circumstances. You have to remember that your deployed service member is not sitting on a computer all day chatting, and emails and calls may be slow at times. They have to be sensitive to the fact that sometimes we forget that back at home, too. Care packages with a little bit of a personal touch help and always say, 'I love you.'" –Navy spouse

    When communicating with your service member, try to focus on sending him uplifting messages of love and support. Before you launch into a new topic, ask yourself if what you're about to discuss accomplishes this goal. If your topic of conversation doesn't strengthen your service member or your relationship, consider changing the topic, unless it's an emergency.

    "We talk a lot about what we would like to do after deployment, like taking a vacation with his block leave time." –Army spouse

    Try to stay within the parameters you established with your service member in your pre-deployment agreement about what you two would share with one another while separated.

    Touching Base With Others

    It is important to maintain your communication with friends and family, as they can be a source of strength and support. Conversely, you can provide support to them through checking in periodically with your service member's extended family and friends to update them and keep them involved in your own deployment experiences. You can also touch base with a mentor or other confidantes to make sure that your perspective on the deployment experience is accurate.

    This excerpt is provided courtesy of the acclaimed free digital resource "Everyone Serves." Download your free copy with additional media content today at  everyoneservesbook.com .

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    © Copyright 2022 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Do Soldiers take their phones on deployment?
    As much as service members would like to establish a schedule for reaching their loved ones, their missions in a combat zone or operational activities may interfere. As a result, many spouses and partners carry cell phones with them at all times to avoid missing their service member's call. more
    How long do phone companies keep phone records?
    T-Mobile holds call records between seven and 10 years, spokesman Viet Nguyen says. MetroPCS maintains separate records and keeps them two years. Sprint holds call logs 18 months, spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge Walsh says. U.S. Cellular holds records one year, according to spokeswoman Katie Frey. more
    What happens if a soldier refuses to deploy?
    The stiffest charge, missing movement, carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. more
    Can someone tap your phone through a phone call?
    It's also a common misconception that a phone can be hacked or that someone can listen to your phone calls just by knowing your phone number. This is not possible and is completely false. more
    Why do phone companies want your old phone?
    Smartphones often have a shelf life and utility that goes well beyond the frequency of new model releases, giving companies an additional source of revenue even for older devices. more
    Can someone hack your phone with your phone number?
    If someone steals your phone number, they become you — for all intents and purposes. With your phone number, a hacker can start hijacking your accounts one by one by having a password reset sent to your phone. They can trick automated systems — like your bank — into thinking they're you when you call customer service. more
    Can a soldier date another soldier?
    Military regulations chiefly regulate against dating between two soldiers of different ranks. The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines all have regulations in place prohibiting this activity as a kind of fraternization. more
    Can someone hack my phone without my phone?
    The truth is that someone can spy on your phone without physically touching it. People can remotely install spying software and track your phone without your knowledge. Remote access to any device connected to the internet is possible in some way. more
    Does AT&T pay off your phone if you deploy?
    They don't pay off your phone or bill. The only thing they do is allow you to unlock the phone for use of the network where it's deployed. more
    Will wiping my old phone affect my new phone?
    Before you trade in your old phone, it's absolutely critical to properly wipe the data clean. Choosing to “restore” or “factory reset” your device will work – if encrypted. For Android users, if your existing phone runs Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) or newer, your data will already be encrypted by default. more
    Can scammer hack my phone through phone call?
    Can hackers hack your phone by calling you? No, not directly. A hacker can call you, pretending to be someone official, and so gain access to your personal details. Armed with that information, they could begin hacking your online accounts. more

    Source: www.military.com

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