Internet access varies widely from location to location. In Okinawa, my son and I talked via a web cam provided by the USO computer center. In 2005, we talked via a webcam from Iraq. As security and safety issues arise, availability may be restricted. Here are some things we've learned over the years:
Availability Varies Widely
From country to country, access to email and other online communication varies widely. Even city to city or camp to camp in the same country will vary widely. If your Marine has access to the Internet, they'll let you know. In some instances and in some locations, Marines and other military personnel bring laptop computers with them and have access to the internet from their sleeping quarters or internet cafes. If your Marine is allowed to bring a computer, s/he will let you know. Please do not send computers without permission from the receiving party first.
Your Marine may have access to a computer to send email through a personal account and/or a military account. Personal accounts from Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! and AOL are popular choices as it allows the Marine to password protect and access personal email from a public computer. Check with your Marine about the use of email and security precautions you should follow. Military accounts may be restricted for military use only.
About Instant Messages
Services such as Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Instant Messenger, AOL IM and Skype may be available to your Marine depending on which location s/he is. We suggest setting up an account for each of the services and let your Marine know your user name for each of the instant messenger systems. Your Marine will also have to have an IM account with the service s/he will be using. For additional information about IM services, please visit each website for those services.
About Chat Rooms and Message Boards
As in all online communications, please observe personal safety measures and Operational Security (OpSEC) standards when using online communities such as message boards and chat rooms. There is more information about Internet Security at the top right box on this page of the website. The philosophy of MarineParents.com is strict on both safety and Operational Security. Our message boards and chat rooms are moderated to assure safety and security. For more information about the guidelines for posting on MarineParents.com operated message boards and chat rooms, please see:
Guidelines for Posting on the Message Boards and Chat:
OpSEC, Privacy and Personal Safety
About Blogs, Personal Websites, My Space
If you or your Marine are using blogs, personal websites and/or "My Space" types of websites, please exercise caution. We advise that you not publish the website addresses publicly or share them with anyone while your Marine is deployed. The Marine Corps has recently restricted access and use of these types of websites for the potential dangers posed to families and our military personnel.
We advise NOT to use them. If you or your Marine are using them, do NOT share the web address. If you have the ability to restrict access to the service, please add the restriction so only you, your Marine, and/or your family have access to the information you share online.
About Web Cams (Cameras)
Many of the IM services also allow sending images via web cams, much like a video camera. These are restricted in some areas, particularly combat zones, and it is up to the command of each post to determine whether or not web cam images will be allowed. If you've got a web cam, follow the manufacturer's instruction for use and access to services.
For a discussion about web cams from other families, please see this section of the message boards:
About Computer-Based Internet Software Phone Calls
Services such as Skype now offer internet phone calls through your cable modem or DSL connection. Your Marine may or may not have access to the software to make or accept phone calls like this. To date, we have no confirmed or official information that the use of calling with computer-based internet software is permitted in combat zones. There are other overseas locations that do allow and/or have access to such services. Check with your Marine for additional information. (Updated November 18, 2007)