Our troops' families have mastered the seemingly random factors that dictate what time to contact them. Firstly, it starts with our time zone difference which is that Afghanistan is twelve and a half hours ahead of San Francisco. Secondly, troops wake up at 5:30 am and they're very busy in the morning, and during the day they end up in locations where their cell phones don't work. As a result, they contact their relatives late at night when they're supposed to be sleeping, which is between 10 am to about 1 pm in San Francisco. In other words, it's at lunchtime.
Americans normally take very short lunch breaks, and many salaried employees in offices skip it altogether and quickly eat a snack from home at their desk. That's our culture. But when one's own family member is in Afghanistan it's necessary to make the time to chat with him or her in the middle of the day, and there's always a lot to talk about because people are still getting killed over there on a daily basis.
There's a daily blog called "Today in Afghanistan" on Blogspot.com that reports incidences and casualties to the public. To read it click on this link. Troops' relatives stay on top of information like that, and on the days when they can't reach them because their phones don't work then they keep a close eye on it. If they haven't heard from them for a few days then they read the list of fatalities. To see it click on this link.
Troops are not the only ones in the war zone; their families at home in America are, too. Physically they're here but mentally they're over there when they haven't been able to reach them for a few days. It's tough on everyone.
Some of our troops are single parents who have no one to rely on to take care of their children while they're overseas. Our country never developed a boarding school system for that purpose.