Sure, in theory it would be nice to tell loved ones the truth, but there are plenty of times when it's probably a bad idea. Or maybe the truth doesn't live up to loved ones' expectations. Either way, here are 9 lies that usually do the trick:
1. "No, we never go outside the wire." (or "We go on tons of missions.")
Everyone knows the grunts go out constantly, but for support soldiers it's a crapshoot. Some will go out constantly; some rarely. Oddly, both groups lie about it. Support soldiers who are with infantry their whole deployment will tell their parents they're staying safely inside the wire. Guys who never leave the wire will tell outlandish stories about combat.
2. "It's boring here."
This is the combat arms soldier's version of, "We never go outside the wire." They can't convince the family that they're never going on mission, so instead they tell them that nothing is happening.
3. "They feed us pretty well."
If the soldier is deployed to a large base like an airfield, this may be true. But if they are further away from large logistics hubs, the food choices become repetitive and aren't always healthy. The worst is for the guys in the field or living in tiny outposts. They'll get most of their calories from MREs and the occasional delivery of Girl Scout cookies and maybe fruit. Care packages are valuable on deployment, so send good stuff.
4. "I eat healthy snacks."
Nope. The foods soldiers pick for themselves are worse than the ones in the MREs. Half the time, it's just tobacco and caffeine. Again, send care packages. Maybe drop some vitamins next to the chips and dip they're asking for.
5. "I'm learning a lot."
Everyone has their plan for a deployment, especially cherries on their first trip. Some plan to practice guitar, learn another language, or work on a degree. For most soldiers though, those ideas go out the window when they realize they'll be working 13 hours or more per day. Still, when they call home, they'll bring a German phrasebook with them, just to keep up appearances.
6. "I couldn't call because of all the work."
Though there is a lot of work, it's not really enough to make phone calls impossible. Sometimes, troops just don't feel like walking all the way to the morale, welfare, and recreation tent. Other times it's because the lines for the phones were long and, for once, the lines for video games were short. The phones could have been cut off because of bandwidth issues or a communications blackout. Don't worry, they'll hit you up on Facebook when they're able.
7. "Our rooms aren't too bad."
Like the food, this depends on the base. Some people on big airfields have real rooms they share or a really nice tent. On forward operating bases, the tents get pretty crappy fast. Beyond the FOBs it's even worse. Soldiers in the most forward positions dig holes in the sand and spread camouflage nets over them.
8. "That's not machine-gun fire; it's a jackhammer."
There are variations of this. "That helicopter pilots are just doing some training," or, "The engineers are just detonating some old munitions." Anytime a compromising noise makes it through the phone, the soldier will try to explain it away. The soldier knows they aren't in immediate danger, but they still don't want their wife to know the base takes a rocket attack every 72 hours. So, they lie about what the noise was and get off the phone before any base alarms go off.
9. "I'm going to pay off my cards and put some money away for retirement."
In their defense, most soldiers are lying to themselves here. They think they're going to be responsible, but they come home with tens of thousands of dollars saved and realize they could buy a really nice car. The barracks parking lots fill with Challengers and BMWs in the months after a unit comes home.