Deployment means being away from loved ones and on many occasions, military personnel struggle to stay in touch with those back home. Access to a phone or the internet is not always a guarantee, and then there's the issue of a spotty signal, running out of data, or rushing calls to avoid racking up bills. As someone who has given advice to thousands of military members, here are my top three tips on staying in touch with loved ones during deployment.
1. Choose the right phone plan
Military families know the importance of staying connected. But all that video calling, and photo sharing can be pricey if you're paying for hefty data bundles and cell phone plans. Instead, choose wisely and opt for a wireless provider that offers great deals for veterans, service members and their families. T-Mobile ONE Military provides all the benefits of T-Mobile ONE -- unlimited talk, text and data (including texting and data abroad in over 210 countries) and complimentary Netflix -- at a discounted rate on up to 12 phone lines. Do your research - but pick a plan that won't see you worrying about costs. It's the last thing you need when on active duty.
2. Reconsider Facebook and Instagram
Facebook and Instagram are likely your go-to methods for sharing news, but now is the time to re-train that brain, and if you're an avid user, prepare for change. While on deployment, social media is much better used as a listening tool than a posting tool. The military has strict rules on communicating with friends and family while on deployment. Be sure not to give any sensitive information including your location and mission. If you are unsure if information is sensitive, be conservative and don't post it.
3. No school like the old school
While connectivity downrange gets better every day, there's still something to be said for old fashioned mail. If putting together care packages or hand writing letters at home doesn't appeal to you, several care package services make sending thoughtful gifts downrange easy. Services like veteran-owned Troopster offer both single care package purchases and monthly subscriptions that keep the gifts coming.