Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Reach Out And Touch"


For less than a hundred bucks a month a soldier anywhere in the world can call home on his cell phone...or text his loved ones, or Skype and actually see them as you talk.  His loved ones can send him instant videos of the kids at play, or on stage in the school play, or at a piano recital.  

And when a soldier wants to get the latest news he just logs on to his favorite news sites and gets his fill.  Or he can watch the latest music video, or listen to his favorite tunes, watch a movie, and, hell, if he needs to he can go to U Tube for a refresher course on the proper assembly and disassembly of the M-16.

That ease of communication is light years ahead of what we had when I was in the military....just as ours was ahead of our fathers experience during World War II.  When I was in Vietnam we had three means of getting the news; the local Armed Forces Television broadcast (by military reporters), or Armed Forces Radio (also by military reporters), or the Stars and Stripes Newspapers (also by military journalists.)  And, if you've ever seen "Good Morning Vietnam", you know how and why that news was filtered..."for the morale of the troops."

Well, I don't envy the ease of getting the news that today's troops enjoy...much of it is garbage, as real journalism is a dying art.  But I envy the hell out of the ease they now enjoy in communicating with family and loved ones.  

We had two ways to communicate with home back then.  Letters or telephone.  While postage on our mail from Vietnam was free, the cost of a phone call was enormous.  We could go down to the nearest USO, walk into an AT&T phone booth and dial home for $4 bucks a minute...and that was back when my base pay was $86 dollars a month!  

Evan a decade later, when I was stationed in Korea it was no better!  I could go into the base recreation center, sign up and wait in line for one of those AT&T booths, and when my turn came, go into the booth and the second the phone back home was answered old Ma Bell started the time meter. $12 bucks for a three minute phone call.  And sometimes I was so lonely I couldn't let go and I'd end up spending a week's pay just to hear the voice of my wife and kids for ten or fifteen minutes.  Wanna try and figure out what the profit margin AT&T enjoyed on those phone calls?

I can't imagine how much loneliness is staved off by the technology our military men and women enjoy today.  I think I could have done those five remote tours standing on my head had I the means to email and Skype and talk to my loved ones every day.  

No doubt Ma Bell is still making plenty of dough.  But she's got competition these days so she can't screw the soldier the way she did back in my day.  Now our military folks can "reach out and touch" anybody they like and use anybody they like to do so.


Jerry Carlin said...

That is absolutely Disgusting that someone in our military, someone putting their life on the line, has to pay a dime to communicate with loved ones! Personally, I would add those who profit from the death of others to my "kill on site" list! When we no longer take better care and support our soldiers, there will come a time when they no longer care about us. Yes, raise my taxes and give our military people free Skype!

A Modest Scribler said...

I admire your generosity, Jerry. But I would have gladly spent 7% or so of my pay to be able to text, talk and Skype the way the military can today.

And yes, I believe there's a particular place in hell for those AT&T execs back in the 60's and 70's...they could have easily given deployed soldiers discounted telephone fees and ease the pain and loneliness of millions.

Brian Kalifornia said...

We take better care of our sick, lame and lazy than we do our Military. And they get oturdo phones for free. Damn shame.

A Modest Scribler said...

Yeah, Brian....I forgot about those Obama phones in this context. I agree; they would better be given to our deployed military. But G.I.s don't vote for Obama so not going to happen.