The Christian Science Monitor examines the impact of new technology on military familes in war time:
- Certainly ever since the mythic Penelope watched Odysseus go off to Troy, the wives of warriors have been left to fend for themselves, raise the children alone, and hope their fighter someday comes home safe. Yet the widespread use of e-mail is one sign that the lives of America’s military spouses are far different in this war than they’ve ever been.
Another big change, husbands and wives say, is the explosion of 24-hour, real-time TV war coverage. The constant flow of images is often both daunting and addictive. Another technology that is far more positive is e-mail, which is revolutionizing the way military families stay in touch.
All in all, the lives of soldiers and their spouses are more intertwined than at any time in history.
“The homefront and the warfront are being pulled together like never before,” says Morten Ender, a sociology professor at the US Military Academy at West Point. And that has big implications for the quality of life at home – and even, he says, for how well troops are fighting.
….prying herself away from the TV is hard for Terry Rumsey, wife of Tech Sgt. Jack Rumsey, an Air Force reservist in Kuwait. “It’s kind of an addiction,” she says, adding that while he’s gone, “I don’t plan to get much sleep.” In some ways, the Massachusetts resident yearns for the days of Vietnam, which Jack also served in. “Back then you got news mostly in the newspaper – and it came two or three days later,” she says. Being more removed from the action made normal life more possible.
Observers warn that too much back-and-forth – and too many details – can distract both sides from the tasks at hand. “If a soldier is constantly checking e-mail, they’ve got one foot at home and one in the war zone” that can impact readiness, says Professor Ender.
In essence, both spouses have to trust that each is one is doing their best in their own sphere.
No matter the ease of communication or glut of information, it’s never been – and never will be – easy. The waiting is the hardest part.