ICTs and the Military Family
Information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure has played a significant role in how information has been transmitted during both natural and man-made crisis situations. During regional conflicts, war, terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and stabilization and reconstruction, ICTs are vital to the coordination of civilian and military organizations so that local populations and host governments can receive the appropriate assistance (Wentz, 2006). ICTs are utilised in these situations by spreading information, viewpoints, and propaganda; collecting information to support organisations; and directly supporting operational activities (Jefferson, 2007).
There are many ways that ICTs have changed how information is transmitted during conflicts and crisis situations; however, as an employee of the Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC), I would like to further explore how ICTs have been utilised by the military at the family level. As an independent resource for the military community, the MFRC is a “community-based organization with the sole responsibility of addressing the needs of the military family” (MFRC Esquimalt, n.d.). Because of this, it is important to understand the role of ICTs in creating an environment in which military members’ and their families’ needs can be met. As mentioned above, ICTs are vital to the coordination of civilian and military organizations, but how are ICTs used to coordinate military members and their families.
With the growing concern in Canada for the wellbeing of members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), it is important not to forget about the families and children of our military members. According to the Canadian Paediatric Society (Rowan-Legg, 2016), 59 percent of all military members are married or in a common-law relationship and 75 percent of all military couples have children. Military deployments and other duty-related separations are the most widely documented stressors for military families (Weins & Boss, 2006). Furthermore, interpersonal difficulties between spouses are common after deployments which have been related to greater psychopathology (Monson, Taft, & Fredman, 2009) and suicidal behaviour (Van Orden et al., 2010).
During deployment, communication between military members and their families can be limited and information may be difficult to obtain. This strain can work both ways. While families may find it hard to receive information about the deployed military member, the person deployed may also have difficulty receiving information about their families while at sea.
Interpersonal theories of intimacy assert that maintaining a level of closeness and connection in a romantic relationship depends on proper communication (Reis & Shaver, (1988). Reis and Shaver also suggest that two important forms of communication in a romantic relationship are interdependence and reflexivity. Interdependence refers to “the idea that verbal and nonverbal elements of each partner’s communication influences the verbal and nonverbal elements of the other’s, shaping the entire progression of a communication episode.”