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Friday, November 18, 2011

Kuwait Chronicle IV

Deployment Sanity Strategy #1...Skype
I'm lucky...I only have to commit to 90 days in any given theater of operations because I am an Army Reserve physician...but many of my soldier colleagues have at least a year to spend at any given time.  That's hard.  It's hard to be away from family and friends, and even the family dog or cat might feel the pain of loss.  In the age of total connectivity, I have found solace in the ability to use voice-over-Internet protocol (VOIP) to keep in touch.

There are many ways to message folks at home including video emails, instant messaging via an email provider like Yahoo or Gmail, but I have found Skype to be the most versatile and reliable means.  My family members can set up their own accounts and "invite" others to their contact list.  I can "see" when one or more are online (unless they choose to block me!), and I can call their computer for a video or voice chat for free.  Setting up a conference video call does have an associated cost with a premium Skype membership, but I have opted to keep it simple with one-at-a-time video calls to a family computer only. 

For a fee, a Skype member can call a cellphone number as well; however, I now use a free smart phone app called NetTalk for VOIP connections to my cellphone using friends and family.  As long as I have a wireless Internet connection, I'm golden.

Deployment always poses communication challenges for families, and that adds to the stress that soldiers must deal with on a routine basis.  The addition of readily available Internet access in deployment settings has gone a long way toward assisting military personnel maintain that vital connection with home.

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