Recently, I was on a trip with my aunt and we talked a lot about when my uncle served in the Army. He completed four tours in Vietnam while she was home with three kids waiting on any word about his safety.
She told me about how little communication they had and about the very short communications she would receive on rare occasions simply letting her know he was still alive.
She told me in great detail about watching cars roll down the street with Army personnel having to make notifications and being there for the families who were left behind.
I can’t imagine going months without any kind of communication from my husband or someone in his unit so that I would know that he was okay.
Even though I rarely watched the news during his deployments, I at least knew it was available if I wanted to know what was going on where he was (or at least the general vicinity).
While obviously, they had news during Vietnam as well, it wasn’t to the extent that we have it available today.
They also didn’t have the internet to send emails back and forth or the ability to Skype/Facetime with their soldier.
There was no Facebook, online FRG support group, or online message boards for military spouses.
If they wanted support from other spouses, they had to do it the old-fashioned way by meeting people in person or attending events on post.
In some ways, I wish it was still like that. I think the internet has made it too easy for us to not forge the bond of the Army family with those who live closest to us.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the friends I have met online and they have been a tremendous source of support during my husband’s deployments. But you could tell it was just very different when my uncle served and the lifestyle was unlike what we know today.
So even though sometimes I went long stints without communication or without as much communication (or the kind) I would like, I never had to endure what she did with months on end with absolutely no information at all.
It makes me wonder what will be available in another 30 to 40 years that will make people think that we had it hard with all the lines of communication we have available now.
I’m not one to play the one-up game, but I do think it’s helpful to realize just how far we have come as far as communication is concerned.
The families who paved the roads of military life before us did have it much harder than we did. They surrounded themselves with support from other families and did what had to be done.
I guess some things never change.