By Staff Sgt. Tony M. Lindback, 3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div. PAOFebruary 12, 2008
Being away doesn't mean Soldiers can't stay close to loved ones at home.
With Valentine's Day around the corner, Rakkasans at Patrol Base Yusifiyah are coming up with ways to show those at home how much they care.
Spc. Adam Wahl, assistant armorer and gunner for Company C, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), has been married less than one year. He said keeping a close relationship with his wife, Jacquelyn, costs a lot, but it's a price he is more than willing to pay.
"I spend excessive amounts on the Spawar account," said the Saginaw, Mich., native, referring to one of the commercial phone and Internet accounts used by many deployed Soldiers. "I probably call more than a lot of people do, but that does help out a lot. Just her hearing my voice and me hearing her voice - it makes a big difference."
While the Wahl couple spends a lot of time on the phone, other couples prefer other means of communication. Cpl. Joseph Konieczny, Company C's armorer, and his wife Heidi, who was his girlfriend at Crystal Lake South High School, Crystal Lake, Ill., do most of their talking through instant messaging on the Internet. It also gives the couple a chance to see each other when using web cameras, something Konieczny said draws him closer to home.
"Seeing facial expressions, laughing, seeing what she's done with her hair - it may seem kind of weird - but it's nice to know what she's doing and how she's doing it," Konieczny said. "Being online and being able to see her is a lot closer of a feeling - that way I almost feel like I'm talking to her face to face. I can picture her voice when she's typing and I can picture her face when we're on the phone, but I'm more in tune with visual observations."
The Internet also provides ways for Soldiers to find gifts for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine's Day. Konieczny said he is looking online at jewelry for Heidi and finding florists to deliver a dozen roses to his mother and mother-in-law. Significant others are not the only ones who love getting Valentines, he said.
"Another thing we're big on is sending each other pictures through e-mail or with discs in the mail. We've even broke down and sent videos to each other ... It's kind of weird to sit down and talk to a camera, and express your feelings to a camera but it's better than nothing. It's those little things that really count."
Being creative and taking time to do the little things has helped Wahl also. Writing a letter instead of sending an email, or writing his wife poems are ways he lets Jacquelyn know he is thinking of her.
Konieczny said the Soldiers are pooling their ideas to use what they have around them to make some special gifts for loved ones at home.
No matter how Soldiers choose to invest in their relationships this Valentine's Day, the important thing is to just make the effort.
"Don't let the distance come between you ... It's not that big of a deal," Wahl said.