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The Best Ways to Communicate for Military Families

Best Apps For Military Families

Far from Friends and Family? Use These Apps to Stay Connected

As military families, we are usually far from our families. We have friends that live all over the country and the world. We have to spend time apart from our spouse when the service member is deployed, away at training, or moving ahead of time during a PCS. In today’s modern world, there are so many ways to communicate. Here is a list of them.

Facebook Messenger and Portal

Update 11/30/23: At this time, those who try to sign up for a Facebook Portal as described below get this message from the VA official site:

“Thank you for your interest in the Portal from Facebook effort. Please contact your VA Caregiver Coordinator or call the VA Caregiver Support Line 1-855-260-3274 for an internal VA referral. Additionally, you can contact your REACH VET Provider or Geriatrics Service Provider for an internal VA referral for the Portals by Facebook.”

Facebook Messenger is a great way to communicate. You can easily video chat through the app. However, if you obtain a Facebook Portal, you can enhance this experience. The Portal sits on a table so you can use it hands-free. It will also track the person talking which leads to a more real experience. The Portal is perfect for a weekly family chat, and to stay in touch with those back at home. 

Eligible veterans have been able to receive a free Facebook Portal because of a partnership with Facebook and the American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network.

For more info, please go here.

Marco Polo 

Marco Polo is a video chat app where you can leave videos when you can and your friends and family can respond with videos when they can. You don’t have to be online at the same time. This is perfect for those with busy lives. Think of it as texting but with video. You can also include doodles and voice filters. They also have Marco Polo Plus, an app which offers forwarding, more speed control, and voice-only polos. Marco Polo offers members of the military two free months of Marco Polo Plus.

For more info, please see the official site.


Veteran-founded Voxer is a modern-day walkie-talkie app. You can leave voice messages and so can your friends and family. Listen when you can. Voxer is an option to talk with your people even when you are busy and have other things going on.  Voxer has a free plan, as well as paid Pro and Business plans.

For more info, please go here.


WhatsApp gives you fast, simple, and secure messaging with anyone in the world. If you want to text someone but they live overseas, WhatsApp is what you will need to use. You can use the app to chat or even call. You can set up group messages, or one-on-one.

For more info, please go here.


Zoom is a bit more businesslike but you can use this app to talk to family and friends. Zoom is perfect if you want to have a video-based date night with your service member, or a book club with your best friends. With Zoom, you can minimize the video page to watch a movie or to work on something together. Zoom also gives you the ability to share content, and live chat, and is pretty user-friendly.

Zoom has a basic free plan, a Pro plan for $149.90 a year, a Business plan for $199.90 a year, and a Business Plus plan for $250 a year.

For more info, please go here.


Snapchat is a fun app for photos and videos. You can use all the silly filters. This is a fun way for couples to communicate when apart or for friends to connect across the miles in a fun and silly way.

Snapchat offers the app for free and have just added Snapchat+ for $3.99 a month.

For more info, please go here.


Sandboxx is perfect for going old school and sending letters. You can use Sandboxx to send letters within the app. You would draft a letter on the app or desktop, add photos, and hit send. They print out your letter and ship it to the address you provided. A lot of military families love the ease of this app. It makes sending out those letters easier on everyone. 

For more info, please go here.


Skype has been around for a while, since 2003, so you might not be using it anymore. As Zoom got more popular, Skype fell out of popularity. You can still use the app for personal use, even though Skype For Business is being decommissioned. You can use Skype via mobile, PC, Xbox, and Alexa. You can send messages, do HD voice, and of course video calls. If you don’t like Zoom’s style, you might prefer to use Skype instead.

For more info, please go here.


About the author

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Julie Provost is a freelance writer, and blogger. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.