Monday, February 25, 2008

In the Age of Email

Thankfully most military folks now have the ability to access and use email while they are deployed. Today's (new) Coast Guard spouse may take this technology for granted. Though, we can't and shouldn't hold this against them. They didn't know any other way. To them, it's always been there. Nonetheless, when a ship's email is down or there is a delay, it's hard not to project Stop complaining. There wasn't always email. In fact, as our own Christina reminded me, not all of the smaller ships are equipped with the "luxuries" that the larger cutters have. These guys and gals may not be able to connect to home via phone or email while on deployment.

I can remember writing letters the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper. I even shopped for special stationary because it was a big deal to me and the recipient. Still, I consider myself fairly young and just semi-seasoned. I was on the cusp of the technological advances that made our military members more accessible. Cell phones weren't prevalent when I came of age, but they surfaced not too long after. Today, they can be seen on the hips of Coasties everywhere (even in uniform, tsk, tsk). Spouses, significant others, mothers, Chiefs, etc. can get a hold of these guys (and gals) in blue at a moment's notice.

Even when a cutter is deployed halfway around the world, members can log on and email or chat with their spouses. One wife I am friendly with used a webcam back here in the states while her husband was in PATFORSWA in 2004 so that he could see their new baby as she grew. Their chats every few nights meant so much to both of them, but were such a far cry from what the spouses of 20, 30, 40, and even 50 years ago did to keep in touch.

Now, I'm a bit of a hopeless romantic, and I can't help but honor the time-old-tradition of letter writing. So, when my husband is deployed, not only do I enjoy the emails and phone calls, but I also still write letters. Sometimes I even flip the stamp upside down to indicate "I Love You". Who knows if it actually means that but once upon a time, a military girlfriend who was writing to her Marine said that and it stuck with me. For all I know, it means, Go ahead and spend all your money in the islands. Eek!


Christina Cope Anderson said...

When speaking to an older couple this weekend, the wife remarked, "Well, it must be so much easier being a military wife nowadays." I balked. I responded, "I have two US Army, Infantry friends in Iraq. Each day when they return to home base, they queue up for phones and computers to contact loved ones. Most PCs are equipped with cameras, so couples can exchange smiles and glimpses of children during the conversation. Computers enable soldiers to upload pictures, post blogs, and communicate with the world at large.

"In the USCG, on smaller ships, they have no access to either. I go weeks at a time, not knowing what storm he survived or what laws he enforced. On the off chance they come to shore to restock or come within cell tower reception, I may get a brief call to check in."

The husband quipped, "Back in the war, I went 13 weeks without being able to write or receive a letter because I had no logistical backup."

Brad and I nodded, "We know what you mean..."

Just a Girl in a Port said...

Excellent point. I completely flaked on the differences with smaller ships. You are so right. Forgive me if it seemed as though as I was generalizing too much. That was not my intention. I'll edit that in somewhere.