If you’re like me, you were incredibly excited when you learned about this acronym. The VTC, Video TeleConference, means you will get to see your soldier again during a separation! These are usually conducted during deployments. For my husband’s unit, we usually were granted one around the half way mark. When he was gone during Christmas, we were lucky enough to get two during that deployment.
I’m sure how units and posts handle VTCs can vary greatly so I’ll just share our experience. I was notified for each VTC about a week ahead of time. Each VTC was usually about 10-15 minutes long. Though I did get lucky once when the spouse following me didn’t show up and I was able to use her time as well!
Our VTCs were set up different each time. With the first one, there was just one television screen in the room where I was. The camera was sitting on top of the TV and that TV screen contained the best thing I’d seen in a long time – my husband’s smiling face. I’ll admit that the VTC is a little strange. It was great to be able to do it but it feels a little weird to be sitting in a room by yourself talking to the television.
My husband was in a special operations unit so we had a long list in front of us about what we were and were not allowed to discuss including keywords that could not be used. This also let me know that someone, somewhere, was monitoring everything as well. Not anything unusual for us as everything was monitored but I thought I would mention it.
We would chat about whatever was going on at home as there was usually very little he could talk about. Of course, it didn’t really matter what we talked about, it was just the fact that at least for those few minutes, he felt like he was much closer than he actually was. The soldiers running the VTC would knock on the door when we had one minute left as a sign to wrap it up.
With the next one, we had two television screens. On one I could see myself and on the other, I could see my husband. To me, this was very distracting and I would have much preferred to only be able to see him. When it was set up in this way, it made me very self conscious of my appearance, how I was sitting, etc.
One of my most interesting VTCs was the one that I mentioned we were able to do during the Christmas deployment. This was the second one during that particular deployment. I entered the room at the time I was supposed to but it was not my soldier on the screen. Instead it was one of the single soldiers from his unit. Instantly, I was terrified because I thought something had happened to my husband. He told me he was in the other room and would be there shortly. Thankfully I knew this soldier so I was able to talk to him while I waited on my husband. With each minute that passed, I grew more and more nervous about where my husband was.
He finally stumbled (literally) into the room when we had about 90 seconds left. He looked absolutely horrible and it was obvious he was totally out of it. Because of the rules, he wasn’t allowed to tell me what was wrong. The warning knock came at the door about the time he sat down in the chair. Needless to say, I left that VTC in tears. He called the next day and didn’t even really remember being in the VTC. I later found out they had him on pain killers for his neck, though I never found out what actually happened.
Most of the VTCs were a great experience and I would highly recommend them. His unit allowed anyone who wanted to attend to see the soldier to be there so many people brought their kids or the in-laws. Quite a few brought the dog! If you get the chance, don’t pass up the opportunity to see your soldier.