Using these Blackberry applications helps me communicate with my son at any time that he happens to be on the Internet. I don’t have to be at my computer which is a big relief. For example, one day I was out for a walk and had a chat with my son via my Blackberry while walking.
Without these Blackberry applications, I would miss out on chats like that. I never know when he will be online – all kinds of strange hours of the day and night so I like to be prepared!
- Facebook - If you and your Soldier have a Facebook account, you can subscribe via SMS to your Soldier’s status updates. This is cool because the moment my deployed son updates his Facebook status, I get a text message to my phone. From the text message, I can reply with “Like” to “Like” the status, or leave a comment. The advantage of “Like” is that I also get any subsequent comments that he or others make on his status. In order to receive any comments that follow, you must have the Facebook application on your Blackberry.
To set up Facebook SMS subscriptions, log into your Facebook account and go to Account >Account Settings. Click the Mobile tab. Once you have that set up correctly, go to your Soldier’s Facebook profile page. Under the profile picture, click “Subscribe via SMS”.If you set it up correctly, the next time your Soldier’s updates their Facebook status, you will get a text message to your smartphone!
- Email - There are many email applications you can use your Blackberry. I use both Yahoo and Gmail. You can download either to your smartphone. When my son sends me an email, I can read and reply to the email on my phone. It’s been a great convenience. Sometimes our Soldiers are busy so I like to reply right away in case he can’t get back to the computer for awhile. Following are links for more information:
- Google Talk - this is my favorite instant messenger! You can use this if you both have a Google mail account. Just log on from your phone and the “green dot’ tells you that your contacts are available and online. This is how I have chats in real time with my son when I am out and about.
- Yahoo Messenger – works like most instant messenger applications. You can use this if you both have Yahoo mail account. I use this one too. It’s nice to have a back up.
- Skype - if you have a Skype account, you can download it your Blackberry and use Skype mobile. This is new for Blackberry so I have not used it yet. Only the chat feature is available on your smart phone.
I hope this is helpful to you in some way. What other ways have you found to communicate with your Soldier via smart phone? Please share your ideas!
I was walking at the beach one day, not far from where my son lived before joining the Army. He loved being near the ocean and I was thinking of him that day. So I stopped in the store and picked up a postcard and addressed it with a quick note to let him know I was at his old stomping grounds — far from the cold, landlocked, and mountainous Afghanistan that he now calls home. Fortunately I always carry stamps so I then mailed it at the post office just a block from the beach.
A few days later, I found myself wandering another beach with a friend. I was drawn again to the postcards and got one with a beautiful ocean scene, scribbled a quick greeting to my son, and dropped it in the mailbox nearby.
I repeated this several more times, even mailing one on my way to work one day. I didn’t hear anything about the postcards from my son. A few weeks went by and I asked during an Internet chat one day if he got a postcard from me.
He responded, “Yes! I love getting all the postcards. I hang them on the wall! Thank you!”
I then enlisted the help of a few friends around the country. I asked each person if they could just pick up a postcard from their city the next time they were out and mail it to my son with a brief note about the weather or anything happening that day. They agreed.
Postcards cost 30 – 50 cents and are a quick, easy way to let my deployed soldier son know I am thinking of him at a given moment in time. It’s different then a care package. It’s a little slice of home that brightens my son’s day from a 1/2 world away.
Next time you are out and about, pick up a postcard and send it your deployed son or daughter. I am sure they will appreciate a little slice of home!
When a soldier in Iraq wanted to send his kids a gift, he was limited as to what he had access to: a couple of band aids and some sun screen! It didn’t matter too much, his kids were thrilled to received anything at all! That story is the inspiration behind “Dog Tags for Kids”!
The Dog Tags for Kids project is dedicated to helping United States Service men and women in harm’s way, to connect with their children at home. The idea is to send something to a deployed Mom or Dad that they can easily send back to their kids!
Dog tags were just perfect! Each one is engraved with “With Love From Dad, U.S. Army, Iraq 2010″. (or Mom; or Kuwait or Afghanistan). The tags are small enough to easily fit in an envelope and send home.
The dog tags must come from the parents so all dog tags are sent to Iraq, Kuwait, or Afghanistan at the request of the service members. Then the service members can send one to their child at home.
Rose Sliepka is the amazing woman behind this grassroots project that depends entirely on volunteers and donations to continue the missions. Rose actually engraves all of the tags and has volunteers in California that help bag them and box them for shipping.
Each parent soldier that is in harm’s way can receive a dog tag at no charge!
Since the project’s beginning, they have now sent over 500,000 tags to our men and women fighting in harm’s way. Soldier’s love sending them and their kids love receiving them!
How YOU can help:
- Request tags for deployed soldiers
- Make a monetary donation or learn more
- We need your votes! You can help Dog Tags for Kids win $2500 for their project which will help supply another 5000+ tags that will result in a lot of smiles! Simply click here and vote for Rose Sliepka from Lanacaster, CA who has unselfishly dedicated herself to this wonderful program. Thank you!
The national media finally picked up the news, and it ran on Fox stations across the country.
Through donations and recycling of cell phones, Brittany and Robbie use the proceeds to purchase prepaid phone card and distribute them to deployed soldiers. AT&T donated half a million dollars in phone cards and established drop off locations at each of its 2,000 stores across the country.
Since 2004, this brother and sister have provided more than 60,000,000 minutes of free calling cards thanks to a national network of individual and corporate supporters donating phones and money.
“There are more than 130 million phones retired every year in the United States,” said Robbie Bergquist, cofounder of Cell Phones for Soldiers. “If just 2% of all American’s were to donate their phones, we could supply every troop with a phone as a small measure of the gratitude of a nation.”
Here are some great ways you can help:
- Donate a Phone – Drop off your old or unused cell phone at any of AT&T’s more than 2,000 company-owned stores across the U.S. You can also mail your used phone with free shipping anywhere in the U.S. Click here to find a drop off point.
- Donate Money – Don’t have a phone to donate? Support the troops by making an online secure donation. Click here to donate money.
- Set Up a Drop-off Point – Show your support for the troops by setting up an offical drop-off point for Cell Phones for Soldiers. Click here to set up a drop-off location.
- To request a calling card for YOUR soldier – Each phone card provide an 800 number, which the user may call, and supplies the user with an hour of talk time. Request a calling card.
Help keep Military families connected – donate a phone! Watch more of Cell Phones for Soldiers Charity and how it is helping our troops around the world!
CaringBridge is a free, nonprofit web service that connects family and friends to share information, love and support during a serious health event, care and recovery. It takes just a few moments to create a personal and private CaringBridge website.
I learned about CaringBridge through some dear friends that are keeping track of a fellow soldier. He was seriously injured, along with seven other members of his unit, when an improvised explosive device (IED) was set off in Afghanistan last year.
CaringBridge provides a way to simplify updates to family and friends through journal entries. This helps to reduce the stress of multiple conversations. Visitors to your site can leave messages of love and support in the guestbook. Our soldier friend, who is still recovering, has already received 3,000 loving and supportive messages. It really makes a difference to the person who is recovering and the family.
With CaringBridge, you can build a Web site easily and quickly. It is free and available anytime you need it.
I hope you never need to use this Web site. If you do, please let us know so we can support you through your soldier’s recovery.
About CaringBridge: CaringBridge is a charitable nonprofit organization. Their mission:
To bring together a global community of care powered by the love of family and friends in an easy, accessible and private way. Visit: CaringBridge.org
Stay Army Mom Strong. Blessings to you and your soldier.
I love a good cup of coffee in the morning and so do many of our deployed troops! Now, with the help of Green Beans Coffee, you can buy a cup of coffee for a deployed soldier and have it delivered with your personal note!
You can also buy a Green Beans coffee card for your deployed soldier and have them pick it up right at their deployment base.
Who is Green Beans Coffee? The Green Beans Coffee Company serves military personnel in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Qatar, Djibouti, Africa and domestically at military bases across North America. The company is on a mission to support our men and women in uniform.
You can check the Green Beans Coffee location map to find out if they have a coffee cafe at your soldier’s location. I chatted with my son today and Green Beans Coffee just opened a cafe at his deployment location. Guess what he’s getting from me?
Here’s how it works:
- Buy a cup of coffee for any soldier. You provide a different Soldier a Cup of Joe gift with each $2 you spend.
- Buy many cups of coffee for YOUR soldier. You can purchase a prepaid coffee card for a specific soldier. For each Coffee Card purchase, Green Beans will contribute an ADDITIONAL 10% IN DOLLAR VALUE to your Coffee Card’s face value. Cards are available in any denomination starting at $20. You will also select the location where your soldier will pick up the prepaid coffee card.
- Tell your Soldier to sign up so they can be the recipient of a cup of coffee! Soldiers can participate in “Cup Of Joe For A Joe” by signing up at the Green Beans Coffee website. Participation is restricted to active duty Armed Services Personnel deployed in support of OEF or OIF.
This is a great idea that can brighten a soldier’s day! Go buy a cup of Joe for Soldier!
Thanks to modern technology, some deployed soldiers shared in their family’s holiday fun using Skype. My son was one of those Afghanistan deployed soldiers that got to enjoy the fun of his kids opening Christmas presents. All it took was 2 computers, 2 webcams, an Internet connection, and Skype.
My son and his wife planned a day and time for the kids to open their Christmas gifts from Daddy. He got to watch the kids excitement and share in their fun! The kids are always thrilled to “see” Daddy on the webcam!
Pictured left, is my granddaughter, who can’t take her eyes off her Daddy.
Many soldiers that are deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq have Internet access in their tents, B-huts, and CHUs. Internet access is an ideal solution, especially for soldiers with families and young children. It is also very expensive but well worth it. High speed communications service is available via satellite and shared amongst many soldiers. Their computer or wireless / wired network can receive internet signal, through a special satellite VSAT modem.
There are also a number of Internet cafes available to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, like the one pictured at Bagram, Agfghanistan.
Phone calls are a great way to keep in touch, but for kids, “seeing” Daddy is a priceless gift!
At least one designated day each month, deployed service members making calls to the U.S. from their local Morale Welfare & Recreation (MWR) center are greeted by a recording which states their call will be free courtesy of VFW Operation Uplink™. The program began working through 191 internet cafes abroad and is now offered through more than 866 locations. Troops can call home from Internet cafes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait.
VFW Operation Uplink™ was launched in 1996 to connect active-duty troops and hospitalized veterans with their loved ones. The program uses contributions from supporters to purchase phone time for the men and women who are serving — or have served — this great nation, as well as hospitalized veterans.
Traditional phone cards are still being provided at military hospitals and VA facilities, as well as to troops in regions not served by the “Free Call Days.”
Let your deployed soldier know about this great free service. If you’d like to help by making a donation, visit the Operation Uplink web page.
For more information, visit Operation Uplink.
Become a fan on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/VFWFans
Technology is making it better then ever for deployed soldiers to stay in touch with their loved ones at home. If your deployed son or daughter has access to Internet services and a computer, then Skype is a great low-cost solution for staying connected.
My son was recently deployed to Afghanistan and he has connected with family members several times using Skype. On Sunday morning, I was enjoying a cup of coffee and logged onto Skype. I saw that my son was online too and we chatted via Skype for 20 minutes. That was a pleasant surprise!
We’ve used text messages, his family got to “see” him on a video call, and he has spoken to his wife on the phone – all using Skype.
To use Skype:
- What you need: Computer (with webcam if you plan to do video calls, Internet connection, Skype)
- What your soldier needs: Computer (with Webcam for video calls, Internet connection, Skype)
What is Skype? Skype is software that enables you to make free video and voice calls, send instant messages and share files with other Skype users. Everyday, people everywhere also use Skype to make low-cost calls to landlines and mobiles.
Here are the basic ways that you can communicate using Skype.
- Instant messages: Sometimes it’s just not convenient to talk. That’s when instant messaging (IM) comes in handy. You can even group chat with three or more people using Skype. You can IM with anyone in your Skype contact list that is online.
- SMS Text messages: Sending a text message directly from Skype is perfect when your deployed soldier wants to send a text message to your cell phone. Just like sending text messages from your mobile, you pay per SMS message you send from Skype, but the costs are usually much lower.
- Video calls: Video calls can make conversations much more interesting. It’s a great way to “see” your deployed son or daughter. Skype to Skype video calls are free too! You will need a webcam to use the video call feature.
- Skype to Skype calls: Make completely free and great quality calls from your computer. You will both need a headset to use this feature but it’s worth it!
- Low-cost calls to landlines and cell phones around the world: It’s easy and quite inexpensive to call phones and mobiles abroad directly from Skype.
- Skype voicemail: Let Skype take incoming calls when your soldier is busy, unavailable or simply offline. Then they can listen to messages the next time they are signed in to Skype.
HOOAHMail is a FREE service for family and friends of deployed Army Personnel in Afghanistan to send a letter that is delivered within 24 hours. Here is how it works: Letters and photos are submitted via the Internet, and then printed and delivered by the Army Post Office.
Hooah Mail is safe and secure too. The HooahMail service has a tremendous positive effect on morale by providing unparalleled delivery times – 24 hours! Your letter gets there FAST!
HooahMail is NOT E-mail! Unlike email, computer access is not required to read or receive HooahMail. HooahMail allows a Soldier to keep a physical reminder of their loved ones with them at all times and can be read and re-read.
HooahMail is based upon and patterned after the successful deployment of Hybrid Mail technology
currently in use by the USMC since 2003 known as MotoMail.
The HooahMail service provides a discreet and secure way of sending a letter and photograph via the internet which is hand delivered to your Soldier. This service is a combination of the electronic world and delivery by the Army Post Office. HooahMail is now available to Soldiers and their Families and friends who want to send fast photos and correspondence to deployed Soldiers. Your deployed son or daughter in Afghanistan can receive mail from YOU usually within 24 hours, not days or weeks.
Privacy. The Army Post Office serving the recipient’s location downloads all HooahMail and sends to a special print/fold/sealer ensuring confidentiality. HooahMail is then delivered through Army Post Office unit mail call.
Oh. Did I mention it’s FREE! Begins 1 December 2009 in Afghanistan. Visit: http://hooahmail.us
Family and friends of deployed Marines in Afghanistan & Iraq can NOW send a letter to be downloaded, printed, and ready for delivery, usually within 24 hours at http://motomail.us.