Social media helps soldiers communicate with families

Friday, January 7, 2011 | 5:17 p.m. CST; updated 7:55 p.m. CST, Saturday, January 8, 2011

COLUMBIA — Tammy Wulff gets very excited every time she sees her son, Corporal Adam Wulff, online on Facebook and can send him a quick message.

“I was at a veterans' event, and I was sitting next to a World War II veteran who never spoke to his family while he was serving except a few letters,” Wulff said. “I can’t even imagine what that was like.”

Wulff said Facebook is helpful for communication if the soldier is able to access it.

“It depends on (Adam’s) missions," Wulff said. "He doesn’t have connectivity all the time because it depends on his job and the base he is at.”

Adam Wulff is a 21-year-old and a 2007 graduate of Rock Bridge High School who will be returning to Afghanistan soon.

"(Facebook) is a way for Adam to stay in touch with his family and friends, and I know that is really important to him,” Wulff said.

The Gordon family, whose son Drew is serving in Afghanistan, also loves that Facebook has made communication much easier.

“We communicate with him every day," mother Lisa said. "I’d probably be crying all the time without it. It’s been a lifesaver." 

Internet use depends heavily on the job of the solider and where they are. Drew is at a larger base in Afghanistan, which gives him constant access to the Internet.

C.W. Bishop-Perera is an information technology specialist at Truman Veterans Hospital in Columbia with five sons, two of whom– John and Zach – are in the military.

John Bishop, 28, is a Tactical Air Control Party member in the Air Force and has been to Iraq four times but is currently stationed in Grafenwoehr, Germany.

Zach Bishop, 20, is a military policeman in the Army and currently in Afghanistan.

A former flight engineer in the army himself, Bishop-Perera relies on Facebook instead of phone calls and letters to communicate with his sons. The ability to write letters is sometimes limited when deployed and Facebook is convenient and free, Bishop-Perera said.

Everyone in the Bishop-Perera family uses Facebook to talk to John and Zach, but 18-year-old Tyler Bishop also talks to his brother John via X-Box. John and Tyler play games together as well as talk to each other with audio headsets.

Bishop-Perera said that times have really changed from when he was in the military. He said that social media has been incredibly reassuring as a parent.

“When you see on TV that a soldier has been killed, you can go check their Facebook to see if they’ve recently made a post to clear your mind,” he said.

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