• Reporter Elaina John

Being A Military Family In The 21st Century


Cindy and Scott with their enlisted children. Photo Submitted

My wife and I have been together for 15 years and in that time, we have raised a blended family, survived 4 tours and one IR posting (imposed restriction means that we live apart in different provinces) for 3 years. All of our time together has been directed by the military.

Serving one’s country is never easy but all too often those family members who stay behind and run the home are overlooked. One parent has to step up and run the home and pilot the family throughout the absence of the serving member.

In my own time in the service (30 years and counting), I have seen many changes when it comes to communication - including what is and is not allowed. My first time in Afghanistan had me waiting for parcels and letters to arrive. On my second tour to Afghanistan, we had a satellite phone with a fancy code we had to very carefully punch in because one wrong number would lock us out. The phone would then have to be reset by the signal platoon (yes... I know this because I screwed it up and locked us out of the phone). Following that, we had access to email in order to communicate with family back home. With the latest advancements, we have the internet and smartphones to keep in touch in real-time.

I will agree that communicating with loved ones has become way easier, convenient and allows real-time conversations. That being said, there is a cost and a caution to real-time communication. There is no longer a “cooling off or thinking period” from being upset with what is going on in the world or just being lonely and missing your family. There are less filters that can lead to hurt feelings during an extended absence. There is also a caution that with access to various platforms and social media security can be breached. If used correctly, the benefits of today’s methods of communication far out-weigh the negatives.

We have two children currently serving in CAF; our son posted in New Brunswick and daughter posted in Wainwright. We have a weekly Sunday “fam-jam” which is a group google duo (FaceTime) call so we can see each other while we catch up with how everybody’s week went. This method of communication was able to keep us together while I was on Tour in Latvia and Poland (even during a Pandemic). I do believe this form of communication has helped maintain our mental health and relationships.

Master Warrant Officer Scott Vandervaate, Unit 3, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and Cindy Vandervaate

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