SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
New and seasoned members of the military community alike know it can be tough to stay connected to friends and family.
Jessica Ditson, 50th Space Wing violence prevention integrator, said staying connected and communicating with others is important to maintaining positive mental and physical health, and helps increase resilience.
Maintaining connections with loved ones is something service members, and their families, have valued since before the American Revolution.
James Mesco, 50th Space Wing historian, said before social media, email, video chat, etc., old-fashioned letter writing was a major morale boost that helped keep the spirits of American service members high. In fact, mail was so important it became subject to adversarial military tactics.
Though communication methods and availability have changed throughout military history, the need for Airmen to feel connected to those back home remains the same. Whether Airmen are deployed or assigned somewhere far from home, it’s important they know there are many ways to stay connected to loved ones while they are apart. Here are a few suggestions:
One benefit of current technology is it allows people who are geographically separated to connect in real time. Consider using social media or video chat to connect with distant loved ones.
Focus on helping someone else
When Airmen can’t be with their family during the holidays, or any other time, another way they can connect with others is by volunteering in their local communities.
Ditson said volunteering not only helps fight depression and loneliness, but it also provides opportunities to meet new people.
“When you investigate volunteer opportunities, take time to intentionally consider how you’d like to spend your time,” said Ditson. “If you are passionate about animals, consider helping out at an animal shelter; if you are an avid reader, perhaps you’d enjoy reading aloud to people in retirement communities or hospitals.”
Think outside the date
Being part of the military community often requires flexibility. Airmen apart from friends and family can consider rescheduling certain holidays or traditions to days and times that work best for them.
“One year, while I was deployed during the holidays, our family left our Christmas tree up until March,” said Master Sgt. Benjamin Davis, 50th Wing Staff Agency/50th Mission Support Group first sergeant. “Our family wanted to celebrate Christmas together, so we postponed it until I came home from deployment.”
For more ideas to stay connected, see the infographic with this story.