News: Deployed airmen log in, answer the call to stay connected
Story by Tech. Sgt. Rob Hazelett
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Deployments are a little easier for airmen and their loved ones at home when they make time to keep in touch.
Families on the homefront can take comfort in knowing their service member is just a phone call or mouse click away, and when they finally see that familiar face, they’re reassured he or she has reached their deployment location.
Each deployment presents unique challenges and keeping in touch is valuable, no matter how many times someone has been deployed.
Tech. Sgt. Jacob Kruskie, 74th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit A-10 expeditor, deployed here from Moody AFB, Ga., is a native of Kenosha, Wis.
"I think it is very important to keep in touch with everyone back home,” said Kruski, an 11-year Air Force veteran on his 5th deployment, who Skypes with his girlfriend, Cassandra Dawn Dailey. “Skype is a great way to do this, and I'm thankful for everyone here that makes that possible."
A phone call can mean so much and goes a long way, especially for children who are anticipating communication.
Airman 1st Class Julian Lara, 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron fly away security team member, deployed from Davis-Monthan, AFB, Ariz., tries to keep in touch with his children Rosalinda, Serenity and Sienna at least every other day.
"It is important to keep in touch with family back home because it keeps your moral up,” said Lara, a native of Tucson, Ariz. “It makes time go by faster and puts less of a worry on loved ones at home knowing you’re safe."
There are several places on Bagram service members can go to call their families and loved ones. The United Service Organization, for example, has two facilities here. The USO, which has assisted service members in staying connected with their loved ones on the home front since 1941, provides free Wi-Fi, computers and phones to call stateside, Germany, Italy and Puerto Rico.
"The USO delivers prepaid international phone cards to deployed troops free of charge,” said Brenda Brown, Pat Tillman USO duty manager, who hails from Fayetteville, N.C. “The phone cards help deployed troops stay connected with their family and are distributed throughout the USO centers overseas."
Service members have another avenue to keep in touch with their children who can now hang onto every word they say.
"United Through Reading's military program allows our deployed troops the ability to read their kids a bedtime book and virtually be there, even when they can’t be there in person,” Brown said. “Servicemen and women simply read a book aloud while being recorded on DVD for their child. The DVD and book are mailed to the child and family back home. All recording equipment, books, packing and shipping materials are supplied by the USO.”
Just hearing a loved one’s voice can help reduce stress and is something most deployed personnel don’t take lightly.
Airman 1st Class Shana Kealoha, 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron FAST member, deployed from Davis-Monthan, AFB, Ariz., keeps in touch with loved ones daily via Facebook and visits with them bi-weekly on Skype.
“Keeping in touch with loved ones back home is very important,” said Kealoha, a six-year Air Force veteran from Nanakuli, Hawaii. “It takes off a lot of stress that usually comes with being deployed.”
More often than not, loved ones are also interested in what their deployed service members are doing here.
Since 1st Lt. Jonathan, 4th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron pilot arrived here, he’s kept in touch once a week with his parents and siblings via FaceTime.
“We talk about any news from home, and my dad thinks what I do is awesome, so he's always asking me questions that sometimes I'm not allowed to answer,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan. “Most of our time talking is spent planning a trip when I get back, which helps me feel like I'm a part of things, even when I'm away, [so it’s] more than just chatting.”
When all is said and done, deployed personnel and their loved ones maintain the same objective: Coming home to a happy reunion. Until then, they take it one day, one mouse click and one phone call at a time.