USS George Washington, At Sea (NNS) -- One of the biggest obstacles Sailors face is maintaining relationships while underway. Parents, spouses, significant others and children often struggle with the physical separation. But Sailors work hard to stay connected to their loved ones.

Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Lyndon Schwartz, from Pittsburgh, utilizes packages, letters, email and the occasional phone call while at sea to keep in contact with his girlfriend, family and friends.

"Keeping in contact with my girlfriend is essential for nurturing our relationship," said Schwartz. "I think we all can identify with the comfort and that communication brings."

Communication through social media is one way to stay connected with loved ones. With multiple platforms to utilize, the internet offers instantaneous communication.

"E-mail is the most convenient for me," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Recruit Zachary Stampes from Baskersfield. "I am able to update my family about how I am doing at a moment's notice and have confidence they will get my message and be able to respond just as quickly."

While traditional paper and pen letters lack the promptness of e-mail, packages and letters are still an ideal form of communication. The ship's postal service division receives more than 100,000 pounds of letters and packages on a weekly basis from George Washington Sailors' family and friends.

"My little brothers both send me mail," said Fire Controlman Third Class Kevin Hodges, from Naperville, Ill. "The process is a little slower, but it's more personal. There is usually more thought in the contents. It really makes my day to get letters from them."

Advancements in technology have allowed Sailors to have an impact on their child's life, even while at sea. The Navy also offers a wide array of services for Sailors to stay connected, including a program called 'United Through Reading.' Before a Sailor deploys, he or she can go into a private room and read a children's book aloud while being recorded on video. After video production, the Sailor can leave the video with their child while on patrol.

"As you go through your Navy career you seek any opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones back home," said Mass Communication Specialist Second Class Benjamin Kittleson from Santee. "This program was unique and offered me a lasting moment with my son. I was able to share a piece of my childhood with him by reading a book from when I was his age. I was able to hand down and share that moment with him.

"It is those moments that you get to be face to face with your family back home, creating those memories and connections that you remember," he added.

George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) Five, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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