Being a military family comes with many more unknowns beyond what the average American family faces. Besides the constant worry for the safety of loved ones sent out to the battlefield, there’s the constant moving — with an average of just two or three years in one place — as well as long periods of separation and the challenges associated with reintegration into normal society after tours of duty and service have been completed. Children of military families switch schools an average of six to nine times. For anyone who hasn’t been a member of a military family, it’s truly difficult to fathom the unique situation military life presents.
However, many who have been in those shoes or have loved ones who have served are now putting the power of technology to work to ease some of these struggles. Check out the very inspiring and cool ways technology is having a positive effect on military families:
Closing the Communication Gap
Military families used to rely on snail mail letters, the occasional and unexpected phone call, and even cassette tapes, which family members recorded their thoughts on. While these outlets provided some communication, things just weren’t the same because there were lengthy gaps, as well as a lack of immediate reaction or connection.
Thanks to video chat capabilities, that’s all changed. Whether they use Skype, FaceTime, or a Facebook video call, military families can hear and see each other, keeping those bonds tight and alleviating some of the feelings of loneliness and homesickness that are so prevalent.
Facilitating the Move Process
Some military families have been known to ship out numerous times a year, regularly leaving one location for another — sometimes with very little notice. Moving is difficult enough, but the constant churn and lack of feeling settled can start to wear thin on all family members. After all, moving involves so many factors and decisions: locating a place to stay, getting a mover, packing, and transferring all utilities. Add to that the fact that these families are moving from a known area to one they may not have been able to check out before receiving their orders, and moving can create real stress.
However, technology has provided a way to ease some of the time-consuming aspects that go into finding, comparing, and booking services related to the moving process. For example, InMyArea.com is a comparison shopping engine for home services that can help military families handle their relocations as seamlessly as possible. The comparison site includes finding services and providers for things like internet, cable and satellite TV, utilities, solar, homeowners and rental insurance, and mortgage rates. The service also connects users with moving companies and places to get moving boxes. Being able to do comparison shopping and ordering on the user’s timeline from any device reduces the work and hassle that go into a military move.
Delivering New Career Opportunities
While being in the military has its own set of challenges, the transition to civilian life can often feel anything but civil. Integrating back into normal activities that don’t involve life-threatening situations or an immeasurable amount of risk can be strange and unsettling to retired military personnel. It can also be difficult to find a job where it feels like their skills from the past few years easily transfer. Military spouses struggle just as much, with their unemployment rate sitting as high as three times higher than the national average.
Here again comes technology with new ways to solve what has been a troubling issue for many veterans. Many companies are now purposely seeking out veterans to join their organizations, such as Home Depot, which has added a section to its website to encourage veterans to apply online and join the team.
Other military veterans and their spouses are looking inside themselves for innovative ideas, utilizing the unique experiences and skills sets that often give them a different perspective to potentially solve common problems that others have not been able to tackle. For example, R. Riveter received $100,000 and a line of credit from Mark Cuban on “Shark Tank.” Two military wives — who wanted to create jobs that would travel with them and help support their families — created the company.
Their other purpose was to upcycle military textiles that could be made into great new handbags. It’s a great example of how technology has made it possible to create these types of portable careers that can be done from anywhere and reach a target audience all over the world. These and other military veterans and their spouses can provide hope and stimulate creativity in others still seeking to make their way in the world.
Leveraging the growth of online businesses, thanks to all the available technology in the form of tools and platforms, may be the best way for these veterans and their families to write the next chapter of their lives and feel at home again after so bravely taking care of the rest of us.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.