Social Media and the Military Spouse

iStock_000015964385_ExtraSmallBy Splash Media U Contest Finalist, Tina Massmann of The Wellness Effect

My husband and I were still dating when he was preparing for his deployment to Afghanistan. I received my inaugural “sit down” with his mother and her good friend, both retired Army Spouses.

I was told that there would be a lack of communication during his deployment. Phone calls would be difficult; letters might come every few weeks, if that, and the year would drag by. After all, they had both been in my position and knew what I could expect. However, in the 365 days that my husband was deployed I received 335 phone calls, countless emails and pictures, and numerous messages through social media outlets.

Times have definitely changed, but revolutionized? I’m not so sure.

 

Merriam-Webster defines revolutionize as to “change fundamentally and completely”.

I would argue that social media has not changed the military spouse experience fundamentally. The challenges that we face are still there (the moves, the deployments, etc.) and they are still as difficult as ever. However what it has done is to make communication and information gathering more accessible. The social media platform offers a constant, albeit superficial, means of maintaining contact with family, friends, and acquaintances (both business and social).

On the personal side it is comforting to know that there are other spouses and families who are going through the same struggles as I am and finding those who share a positive attitude has been critical. Negativity can run rampant and drag one down but being able to send out a post or text and get back some immediate and much-needed support makes even the toughest days a little easier. In addition, since most people are far too busy to sit down and write a letter or print out pictures to send, posting keeps everyone in touch with those whom we might otherwise be estranged.

On the professional side the superficial contact is exactly the relaxed approach that helps to promote my business. Through the social media avenues I can post information to my friends and acquaintances who then pass it on to their friends and acquaintances. This confidence in the information I present provides word of mouth advertising in a very nonthreatening manner. The availability of information has also kept me in the loop about opportunities that I would probably never have known about or even considered in the past. My immediate environment can be limiting and it is easy to get into a mindset of what is available, blocking out possibilities.

Being able to cast out feelers in many directions through the Internet and social media in particular has kept me in a state of awareness to any opportunity that is out there. I believe that the Army does a fairly decent job of making information available to families, especially through social media. It provides resources that are available to all military personnel and families, allowing even those spouses who are homebound to access support services.

Social media access is a crucial part of the success of the soldier, because if he/she is worrying about his/her family being isolated at home, it is difficult to concentrate on the mission at hand.

All in all, I believe that the Internet and social media has been a positive addition to the military spouse experience. There is always room to improve and I look forward to seeing what the future holds!

Is this your favorite Splash Media U Finalist piece!  Cast your vote by leaving a comment below the post.  Voting ends on March 15, 2013!

148 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, how times have changed! Social media has altered the way we communicate both professionally and socially. Good luck!

    • I know! I never thought that I would rely so heavily on it but now I can’t imagine working without it!

  2. I think that the military spouse role would be so much more challenging without social media. There is a lot of good that can come with it, but it can also encourage a lot of rumor mill information that has to be tuned out.

    • I agree about the rumor mill, I have really tried to steer clear of that and keep my posts and information on the positive side!

  3. Jessica Brushwood

    The days of the flyer are over! 🙂 good luck Tina!

    • I agree with Tina – while it doesn’t lessen the hardship of the separation, perhaps it softens the difficulty and provides a higher level connection that would otherwise not exist. Very well thought out and written – it has given me a perspective I was not aware of before reading!

  4. Sounds like social media has created a more cohesive bond between you and others who are dealing with these same issues. And to be able to speak with your husband, receive emails, see his face through skype and see photos sounds like the main burden of deployment has been reduced. Without having lived in a time when these avenues of communication were not available I think it would be difficult to imagine the separation anxiety and constant worry associated with a lack of communication with your loved one. I’m glad this is not something you have to experience.

    • Cristina Veresan

      Very thoughtful, personal commentary! This essay’s conversational tone really engages the reader, and she examines the issue of social media communication through both the lens of a military spouse and a small business owner. I would like to read more posts from Mrs. Massman!

    • A cohesive bond is so important with all of those miles separating us. I always want my Soldier to be able to focus on his duty and not worry about my wellbeing. And now that I have my business, the social media side is becoming so crucial. Take this essay for example. I have used every resource in my social media tool kit to pull people out of the woodwork to read my essay and get involved through voting. What an awareness it brings!

  5. Well written. I agree, social media has definitely changed how we communicate with one another and it is a blessing in many ways. I also think it does help with finding resources and creating opportunities. As well as, keeping people connected during deployments, TDYs, and time apart.

    • It is interesting coming into a military life later and not having experienced the weeks of no communication. I am thankful to have missed that time.

  6. While I am not on Facebook, nor do I blog, I feel that social media has provided enormous and varied opportunities for people to share with each other and to connect. The online communities that develop around shared experiences, hobbies, and ethos are often as real and emotional as traditional communities of geography or in-person participation. I am sure this is the case with many military spouses and families, and I hope that it serves to lessen the hardships in some small way that come with deployment.

    • It was very helpful to keep us connected during Scott’s deployment. I hope we can continue to communicate regularly during any other deployment that comes along.

  7. Tina, excellent article. Being “old school”, I enjoyed learning a term on something I do everyday, and yet, not really think about the act itself. The article was insightful and I do enjoy all those ways of communicating with friends and family. It is a miracle to see my grandkids on my ipad while talking to them. They already take this technology for granted and will always be “way ahead of me” technically.

  8. Love your positive vibe Tina!

  9. Having just completed deployment #3 only days ago, I can attest to the importance in social media connecting my Soldier overseas with all his family members stateside as well as keeping me in touch with military spouses.

  10. Excellent article Tina. I agree completely. Social media is a great venue for information and communication. It provides instant connection.

  11. This is a timely, thought provoking, well written article. Great job, Tina!

  12. Social media is key……..without it we will feel left behind.

  13. Great piece about how things change, but still stay the same. It is wonderful to stay in touch electronically, but nothing is the same as physical contact.

  14. Tina, I liked your point about how social media is helpful to you as a businesswoman, especially considering the challenges of frequent relocation. Nicely done!

  15. I’m glad you had that means of support while your husband was deployed. Your article was very good. Reba

  16. When my Grandpa went to WWII, he was flat footed and he couldn’t go to combat, so they assigned him to mail duty. What would his job have been today? How the times have changed! Great piece.

  17. I find that I am using social media more and more every day, especially to stay in touch with long distance friends and relatives. Our lives are busy-and access to this technology keeps me close to those I care about.
    There aren’t too many limitations anymore -as to what is “literally” at our fingertips.

  18. Absolutely true…we are a far cry from the way things “used to be” for a spouse…but there is definitely room for improvement!

  19. Charles Johnson

    Tina,this was a very. Good essay and good insight into the difference in the way we communicated
    In my time and the present. ggood job
    Charles

  20. Tina, your essay gives a balanced and insightful look at the impact of social media. I wish you the best and look forward to seeing more articles from you!

  21. Great article with very valid points. Social media has definitely made it easier to keep in contact with friends and loved ones both near and far, and is really starting to work for businesses as well.

  22. Tina–As a retired member of the military, I’ve seen everything from letters every month to instant messaging every second. I support your thesis as social media is the next internet.

  23. I agree with you, Tina. The ability to communicate can lessen the hardship of being away from your friends and family. Just the other day I got a text message from a friend who is deployed. It’s nice to know I can still hear from them and know they’re ok.

  24. I had a similar situation with my husband, but this was before social media was as prominent as it is today. When I think about how difficult it was not being able to see him or know what was going on …well it was devastating. I think if he was deployed now it would be an entirely different scenario. Listening to the radio, wayching the news, watching for the phone to ring, all of it was torture – for BOTH of us. How encouraging it must be now for our soldiers to be able to see and speak with their loved ones on a more frequent basis! Also, the ability to communicate with other families must be refreshing and help one cope as well, even after our soldiers have returned. Great article!

  25. I am glad that social media allows sharing instead of separation for militrary families. We thank your husband for his service and you Tina for your sacrifice.

  26. What a great relief to see social media used for positive ends (keeping families close, promoting business) rather than just negative ‘venting’ forums!

    • That’s so true, Sue. The negative publicity that social media gets can sometimes mask its positive outcomes. Its a shame that the abusive behavior of the minority can affect the majority so intensely!

  27. Accessible was a great word choice! Great article

  28. Great article! It is a blessing to have more instant communication however I treasure the letters written by my husband during Desert Storm! It’s a shame that the written word has become a lost art in our ‘connected’ world!

    • I agree Michelle, I think that letter writing is a lost art as well.

  29. Great artticlie Miltiary should be promating social media .It good for family unity when on long deployments

  30. Good article Tina–I certainly agree the social media has been great for the military families!
    It’s a good avenue to get additional perspective and explore issues and concerns.

  31. I think social media has had such a positive change in the world, especially in the military.
    I agree you may be physically alone @ home:( but that it is comforting and uplifting to the heart & spirit to be able to know your loved one is ok and have that contact!
    Good Luck T!!! Hope you win!!! You def deserve it!

  32. My deepest respect and admiration goes out to everyone in our brave military. These men and women and their families make sacrifices every day so that we, the average american, can live our lives in peace. Through social media I am able to show my support and love for them. Great article Tina!

  33. Love this article. I have never had to experience the military lifestyle that so many families have had to do, but with my business and traveling extensively, I am very thankful for the medias that we have available to communicate with my family and my clients. Great piece, Tina. Thank you.

  34. Great piece. We appreciate our troops but often forget about how difficult it can be for their families.

  35. Social Media really is a fantastic non-intrusive way to keep informed. Great article!

  36. Fantastic article Tina!!! Looking forward to reading many more articles from you!! Good luck!!

  37. This article is great! Almost as great as you!!!

  38. An interesting look at some of the positive aspects of Social Media. Worth a read!

  39. Great article! It’s wonderful social media can keep you in touch with those so far away, especially on military assignment. I know I couldn’t handle all the things it takes to be able to be married to someone in the military. So much strength is needed!

  40. What a great article! Well written with valid points that support her main point.

  41. Great read, Tina…thank you for sharing this information with us!

  42. Kelly VanFosson

    Great article Tina!

  43. Some good ideas in your piece–it’s a hard life, to be sure, but I like your positive outlook and business sense.

  44. This was an interesting article! Good luck on winning. (:

  45. Awesome read! I agree on the fact that when a soilder is at war the comfort of knowing your loved ones are doing well brings peace to the soldier, and helps alieviate them from the countless of stress that they receive from there environment. The social media is deffenently an aid to family’s who have a loved one serving the country.

  46. I love this! I completely agree! Great job (:

  47. Great article Tina! Very thorough…I have always said I would not have made a very good WWII wife, not having any idea where my soldier was or any information about what was going on. I am thankful for the social media of various kinds… it does give both a level of anonimity and identity! Good job!

  48. Great Job Tina. I remember you working very hard to maintain communication while your husband was deployed and while you couldn’t always talk to him on the phone in real time he received and was able to respond to all of your media messages. It enables you both to feel supported by one another while you’re far away

    • Thanks Megan. I believe that all of those outlets we used enabled us to strengthen our communication skills as a couple and also helped me learn some new skills that have benefited me in my business ventures.

  49. I don’t envy military spouses the time apart, but it sounds like communication technology in general has made it more bearable.

  50. Nancy Yarbrough

    Fantastic article Tina Marie Massmann 🙂

  51. Excellent article — very insightful. Thank you for sharing. Judy D.

  52. Great article on how great it is that those in our military can remain in touch with their loved ones while deployed. Keep up the great work.

  53. I have to agree that the access that service members have to social media has had a tremendous impact on morale and welfare of our service members serving overseas.

  54. Patty Christian-McFadden

    Wow, what awesome shared words. Those individuals that feel depressed because their spouses are away for 365 days may not be utilizing the social media to it’s fullest extent. Tina, there are many people that have great difficulty in expressing themselves through words. However, one must realize that those letters to their spouses could be their lifeline. They must also realize that the letters do not have to always be long. One can place a lip print and a letter just stating that I am thinking of you. I am so overwhelmed to see that you are still teaching individuals to better themselves. God is truly going to bless you for ALWAYS thinking of others. Good luck to you in becoming an awarded candidate.

    • I wish that letter writing wasn’t a lost art. It seems that in today’s instant gratification society, which also happens to be a very self centered society, things that are done for the benefit of others are put on the back burner if considered at all. Social media has seemed to ease the burden of connection just a little.

  55. Your essay was thought provoking and insighfull, it opens up conversations that normaly would have gone unsaid. Military spouse must greatly benifite from the social media, and that is great to hear! The Internet and social media helps in maintaining contact with our families, however, the men/women in the military should be considered as part of everybodies family and the social media can help to promote that.
    Great job Tina!

  56. Jacqueline Cerrone

    Thank you or sharing, Tina!

  57. Very insigtful Tina! I loved it

  58. social media is a great tool when used correctly. This is one of those instances where it can be really helpful to have a quick easy method of communication for people seperated by a great distance and lacking the abiltly or resources to pick up a phone.

    • And to think that picking up the phone used to be the latest and greatest thing…

  59. Heather Shearer

    Not surprised you authored such an amazing essay!!

  60. A Very Old Friend

    Awesome! Just…..awesome.

  61. Thanks for the insight of social media and how it benefits military families.

  62. Well Said! Social Media has changed Military families forever. I am grateful to have had the same “Old School” wives talk to me about what to expect, however so much has changes by way of the internet. Why wait for a hand written letter that will never come when you can log onto Facebook and message your spouse and get a reply in 20 minutes as he/she is scanning the horizon looking for the bad guys. Good luck with the scholarship, you deserve it!

  63. Jan Ontungyai-Rhodes

    What a great article! Thank you for sharing. So much new info and things to think about. Much <3 Tina!!

  64. Margaret D Burnette

    My father was in both World Wars. We don’t have letters from the first but I do have a treasured letter from WW11 in which I was mentioned. I have no idea how long it took my mother to received those letters. My own experience as an Army wife during war time was vastly different between the letters of Viet Nam and the phone calls of Desert Storm. And then my son went to war…first to Iraq and then to Afghanistan. I was astonished to be able to Skype as well as email him. How thrilling and reassuring. Instant Reassurance! I wonder how my father would react if he could see this new means of communication. I am so thankful to have the use of it but as a military mom; I must admit that I hope we don’t have to use it to converse with a loved one in a war zone anytime again soon. Thank you Tina for writing so eloquently about this amazing new technology and its assets for military families. Best wishes to you and to all military spouses. Margaret Burnette

    • Thanks Mrs. Burnette! It is amazing to hear about your father’s experience and how far things have come. I sometimes wonder if the lack of communication was the reason for some of the hardships that were part of the previous wars. I am blessed to be able to use social media to connect with other military families as well as to learn how best to promote my business.

  65. Jennifer Castrillon

    Great article Tina!

  66. Ravichandra Chinnaswamy Subramanyam

    It was good one Tina

  67. Insightful article…well written !!

  68. Savannah L. Baldwin

    Tina,
    You are such an inspiration!
    Much love!
    -Savvy

  69. Andrea Stebbins

    Very well written. A lot of good points. Good luck.

  70. It’s true, times have changed some, but the fact of the matter is that anything that can help alleviate the pain of seperation is a good thing. Go for it.

    • I agree Jeff. Families go through enough during deployments and without the added burden of a lack of communication, I truly believe it helps families in more ways than one.

  71. I appreciate all of the comments and am hoping to win that scholarship!

    • Charles Britton

      Great article, Tina. You are soooo right on!

  72. Barbara Britton

    Wonderful article, Tina. Social media is great for the military.

  73. Good insight and a well written essay Tina.

  74. Good article Tina. Good luck with the scholarship!

  75. Thanks for yours and Scott’s service. Great article.

  76. Michael Massmann

    I think social media has had such a positive effect on personnel deployed and families waiting at home. Interesting perspective and happy to see the change.

  77. Great article Tina, good luck!

  78. Social media definitely helps a business in today’s world. Great insight Tina, a well written article!

  79. Go Tina!!! I support you 100%!!

    • Thanks for the support! I hope to win this scholarship!

  80. Killer essay, good luck!

  81. Very moving, I never would’ve imagined how much of an effect it would have. Very moving, definitely a recommended article!

    • Thank you Jasmine! I was hoping to bring awareness and judging by the number of comments, I think I have done that!

  82. Melissa McEntee

    Great article Tina!! Social media definitely has positively affected communication throughout deployments and TDYs. You have given a great insight into the emotion that non military families may not be able to relate to, or even understand. Best wishes for the scholarship : )

    • Thanks Melissa! I really didn’t understand it until I became a military spouse myself. Outlets for positive communication are so critical during those times of separation. I have also appreciated the accessibility of Army resources for families (especially new ones).

  83. great article mrs massman 🙂

  84. Great article. Glad you had Social Media to help you through the deployment!

  85. I love how you can convey your opinions so clearly without “switching sides” so to speak. Yet you remain positive and down to earth the whole time!! Loved reading this, it’s interesting. I hope you get the scholarship because you deserve it. Way to go! Miss you!

  86. Jennifer jenkins

    Well said, I can only imagine what it is Ike to miss your spouse while they are on deployment, but it is great that they have social media to get in touch with home. Especially on those days that they probably really need it 🙂

  87. What a great perspective and a well written essay! I can’t imagine what you must go through as part of a military family. Good Luck!

  88. Monroe Phillips

    Right on Go Tina!!!!!

    Well done Go gettem!!!!

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