How to deal with military deployment

SPC Fance

My husband and I.
My husband and I.

My Point Of View

As a person who has had her husband deployed for all of 2009 thus far, I can witness first hand how hard it is. You don't really realize just how tough it is until you experience it for yourself. I never imagined it would be this life changing!

I can only speak from a single woman's point of view on having a husband deployed to the Middle East. By single I mean having no kids, family or friends around. During 75% of this deployment it has just been me and my Maltese dog. Thanks to technology I've had my online friends and I can keep in touch with family and friends far away.

I know for me, my husband is my best friend and I am used to it just being me and him against the world. When he left, it was just me, alone against the world - at least that's how I felt. During this deployment, I've had feelings, emotions and sicknesses that I've NEVER had ever in my life. I've experienced everything from an anxiety attack (where I had to go to the ER) to feeling suicidal (on many occasions) to feeling sick (nausea, heartburn, headache, lightheaded) every single day to being anti-social (not wanting to talk to or be around anyone) and more! Deployment is no joke!

How You Will Feel

If you haven't experienced a deployment before, there are many normal emotions that you will have throughout the separation. Although many people may try to make you feel bad or like something is wrong with you for feeling the way you do, don't take it personal! They have no idea what you're dealing with; they have no first-hand experience and so they speak out of ignorance. Anyone in their right mind who suddenly has their spouse taken away from them and sent to a high-risk danger zone, knowing they won't see them again for months is going to be flooded with emotions.

Be prepared for these typical post-deployment feelings and emotions:

  • lonely
  • depressed
  • suicidal
  • hopeless
  • lack of energy
  • lack of motivation
  • sleep issues (trouble sleeping or sleeping too much)
  • random crying (crying for no reason just out of nowhere)
  • lack of concentration
  • impatience
  • anxious (anxiety attacks may occur)
  • panic (panic attacks may occur)
  • restless
  • eating issues (no appetite or eating too much)
  • careless (just not caring about anything at all)
  • angry (mad at the world)
  • hostility
  • solitary (just want to be left alone)
  • anti-social
  • unable to focus
  • stressed
  • worried
  • paranoid

I could go on but these, I think, are the most commons ones that I've felt and also heard from other spouses.

What To Expect

In the beginning of the deployment you will not get to talk to your spouse very much. This is normal since it takes a few weeks to a few months for them to get settled in. This is extremely tough to get used to and yes you will be stressed and worried out your mind about the safety of your spouse. Just hang in there.

Once they're settled you'll hear from them more but how much more all depends on where they are, how much free time they have and what privileges they have. There are both pay phones and computer labs over there that can be used. Some can even purchase the Internet for their rooms. So it's a good idea for them to have their own personal laptop.

Don't get your hopes up and don't expect to hear from your spouse everyday. Each time you get to talk to them, whether on the phone or on the Internet, is a privilege. There's nothing more exciting than hearing their voice or reading a message from them or seeing them on cam (if they have a webcam). Just remember that they are over there doing an important job and need to stay focused.

Note: Great ways to chat online - Yahoo Messenger, Skype, Windows Live Messenger, AOL Messenger, Meebo, Facebook Chat, MySpace Chat, Twitter, Chatango, email. For offline contact letters and care packages are great as well.

Don't expect to know anything that's going on over there and don't expect to know when they are coming back home! These subjects matters are very sensitive and because of "operation security" cannot be talked about on the phone or over the Internet. This ensures your spouse's safety. Do not try to force your spouse to talk about something. This is just disrespectful and could get them into a lot of trouble if they cave in.

You will not know when your spouse is coming home up until a few days (approximately 72 hours) beforehand. Once you do know, it's important that you DO NOT post this information on the Internet and please DO NOT post those ever-popular countdown timers on your social networking profiles such as MySpace. This information is top-secret and for your eyes only. If this information gets into the wrong hands it can jeopardize the safety of your spouse and may even push back the deployment. As much as you'll want to tell the world, you just can't!

Note: Your spouse will receive a lot more income while deployed due to additional income they receive plus the fact that their pay is not taxed while overseas. Don't go crazy though or you could regret it. Once they return home, their pay will be back to normal. So, it's a good idea to NOT create any additional expenses and put the additional income in a savings account.

My Baby Boy

My Maltese dog Valentino.
My Maltese dog Valentino.

How To Keep Busy

I found that the best way to deal with this deployment and make it go by fast is to stay busy. I can't stress this enough. Even though it may be hard at first, once you're up for it get involved with something that interests you.

Pets

If you don't have any kids and don't already have a pet, I suggest you get one! It's no fun being totally alone and pets are great companions. Pets are very much like kids; they're very affectionate and faithful. My Maltese has really helped me get through this tough time. If it wasn't for him I know I would have went insane after the first few months. Take time to play with your pet everyday - it's so fun and rewarding.

Social Networks

If you're not making use of the Internet and all of its capabilities, then you should be. The Internet is a whole other world and the possibilities are endless. There are hundreds of social networks to join that can keep you busy - the top 3 (right now) being Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. These are not only a great way to meet new people but they're also great for keeping in touch with your family and friends from home (since most people are not stationed near home).

Blogging

Blogging is also another great tool of the Internet. Anyone can start a blog and it's free - try using WordPress, Blogger or LiveJournal. Once you get the hang of blogging, step your game up and start earning some money blogging! Blogging is easier and there's no rule to it (unless you're trying to take it to a professional level). Everyone has their own style and you can write about anything you want. Plus it's great for letting out some of those bottled emotions that you're holding in.

Get Healthy & Fit

Start a workout routine and stick to it. If you do a little each week, by the time your spouse gets back you'll be looking extra good! Getting fit can give you a huge self-esteem boost and just make you feel better all around. Start eating healthy and stick to it. You'll be amazed at how great you'll feel and look just by adding more fruits, veggies and organic foods to your diet. A great site I use to keep track of my workouts, weight and nutrition is Daily Burn.

Get Out The House

This one is hard for me because I don't like going places alone and I'm shy. Though I will admit, since my husband has been deployed I've really been venturing out and going places by myself. Sometimes just getting out of the house, whether it be going for a walk or just going to Walmart, can be refreshing. Enjoy the nature that surrounds you and get some fresh air!

Volunteer

There are so many places that are constantly looking for volunteers such as shelters (for people and animals) and hospitals (for people and animals). If you live on an Army base, there are always events going on and volunteers are always needed. Check out your specific Military Family Program for more information on how you can help out! I don't know about other branches but for the Army it's the FRG.

Go Home / Visit Family

There's nothing better than being around familiar faces and people that love and care about you. If you're away from home (which most of us are) then maybe it's time to go visit. Getting away can be really nice and being with family can help ease a lot of those emotions you'll be going through. Plus I'm sure they'd love a visit from you to catch up! :)

Conclusion

Remember that it's not the end of the world. Stay optimistic and just remember that you will see your spouse again!

As an incentive, find something that you don't like about yourself and improve on it. Make a realistic goal to have it totally improved or fixed by the time your spouse gets home. My goal was to lose weight and so far I've lost about half of what I wanted to lose.

Remember to keep telling and showing your spouse how much you love and miss them. Send them love letters or messages. Send them care packages. There's always something that your spouse could use over there. To the right you can find premade care packages sold on Amazon!

Take lots of pictures! They may not be able to send you pictures all the time but they'll love to receive them from you. Send them songs that remind you of them. Trust me, even the little things will mean so much to them! Just continue to show your support and stay true! Before you know it, you'll be reunited and back to your regular life.

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Comments 26 comments

Karen [Milhealth] 7 years ago

Excellent advice. I run a support group (3rd BCT, 82nd ABN) consisting mainly of parents but we also have spouses, siblings, and grandparents in our group. I give new parents much of the same advice (particularly re: OPSEC). My son is a SFC in the 82nd ABN (8 yrs) currently in his 4th deployment (5 if you count New Orleans (Katrina). He is married with a little toddler (3), I know how difficult it is for her. I have a lot of admiration for her and all military spouses. God Bless you and your husband, I'll keep you both in my prayers. Please thank him for his service to our country.

Karen

Proud Army Airborne Mom


Kelly Brown 7 years ago

Wow, Chacha. That was just a fantastic article! Ya know, I never realized how dangerous it was for you to post about your spouse, but it all makes perfect sense. I hope you two are reunited soon. Thanks for a very informative piece. :O)


Chachafance profile image

Chachafance 7 years ago from Eufaula, AL Author

Thank you Karen & Kelly for the comments, I appreciate it :) I will definitely thank my husband for you Karen.


Crazdwriter 7 years ago

very touching and great hub, Chacha. Thank you for your sacrifices as a military wife. *hugs* from one military wife to another. And like the other two I hope that you and he will be reuinted soon and I will keep him in my prayers. Stay strong, Chacha, stay strong.


Chachafance profile image

Chachafance 7 years ago from Eufaula, AL Author

Thank you so much! :)


JeniMarie17 profile image

JeniMarie17 7 years ago from Florida

I love this advice my best friends brother is officially in iraq now and we are all worried about him. My heart goes out to you and your soldier I hope everything goes good! good luck and great blog!


Chachafance profile image

Chachafance 7 years ago from Eufaula, AL Author

Thanks so much JeniMarie :)


Army Infantry Mom profile image

Army Infantry Mom 7 years ago

Very thoughtful and well said,..Deployments is tough,..your right about the staying busy part,..that's the best advice. When my son left for Afghanistan me and my hubby was split up,..I had no adult to lean on and had to be "strong" for his 4 younger sibblings. I swear,..the only thing that kept me together was staying busy and a great place on-line called Hooah Radio,..the Dj's have deployed loved ones, they are just the best of the best. We gather in the Hooah Radio chat room and totally support each other,...Luckily me and the hubby worked things out so I had even more support. It's something no one should ever go through alone. Thank you for writing this,..perhaps others will see that this war has sacerfices for many. HOOAH !!! May he come home soon and safe,..Big Hugs !!!


Bri Bri 7 years ago

Hi Chacha here is my issue, i just meet a wonderful guy

(which of course is in the Army) and i really love him we feel in love instantly, and then he dropped the bomb on me and he said he is going to get deployed very soon. I could have died because i been unhappy, single for a while and now that i have found some one it feels like its being taken away from me. I don't know what to do we are not married, but have talked about it. I reaaly need some advice because i have not experienced it like you have but it feels... i can't even explain. My love is trong enough to wait but im just soooo scared. I don't want to loose him , i can't loose him. Well if you have any advice please let me know.Thanks


Chachafance profile image

Chachafance 7 years ago from Eufaula, AL Author

Hi Bri Bri well if you truly love him and can stick it out it will be SOOOO worth it! It will definitely be tough! You just have to think about is he worth it b/c it's NO picnic! Just make sure to keep in touch with him as much as possible - which will probably mainly be online. Friends and family are great for support. The Internet is great for keeping you busy!


Bri Bri 7 years ago

Hey thanks alot for the advice, well i will try to stick i out and i will pray for the best for all of us . You are truly awesome.Thank you!!!!


Norma 7 years ago

this was a lot of help :)


Chachafance profile image

Chachafance 7 years ago from Eufaula, AL Author

No problem :)


J.R. Frank profile image

J.R. Frank 7 years ago

Wow, just what I needed to hear this morning. My husband is being deployed in a month. My first since we've been married. I've been an emotional mess. Your thoughts and ideas where very helpful.


Chachafance profile image

Chachafance 6 years ago from Eufaula, AL Author

@J.R. Frank Glad I could help :)


proud_army_wife profile image

proud_army_wife 6 years ago

Thank you for your post. I have started a blog and use it specifically for the reason you listed, to get out those emotions that I feel on a daily basis.

My husband is in Afghanistan. Luckily it is only suppose to be a six month deployment, but both of us feel he will be extended because of his job and the fact that his is a newly created position and deals with logistics.

Anyway thank you again for your insights. I found them to be very helpful and am sure to refer back to this hub many times in the months to come!


Chachafance profile image

Chachafance 6 years ago from Eufaula, AL Author

You're very welcome @proud_army_wife I'm glad my post could help you and I pray for a safe and speedy return home for your husband.


Alex 6 years ago

My husband is about to deploy for 7 months... it's my second deployment... but I seem to be just as paranoid, scared and hurt like the first time, nothing changed... doesn't help that my boss fired me after I asked him for a day off to support my spouse through the pain of waiting for this deployment - I just wanted a day off to relax with him, I still don't understand how I could get fired for that.

Now I am facing to struggle with him away from me, searching for a new job (though I really don't feel like leaving my bed), I have no family and most of my friends don't understand my situation as they never went through a deployment...

I loved your advice and the list of emotions made me cry - I could identify with every single one of them and know it'll all come back again...

Have you ever felt you cannot do this anymore?

Sometimes I feel like running away from all of it and I am angry that I love him so much... I can't run away of course because my love is so much stronger for him but I wonder every day if it'll break me and how long I can continue like that.

He already promised me he's gonna get out. But 3 more years seems like 3 billion more years...


Elizabeth198426 6 years ago

This helped me out because my boyfriend left for afghain and i was woundering why i have not herd from him in 5 days and he been there like a month now and reading in the begining that i wont talk to him much made me realize that's why i have not herd from him bc he is busy and all .It hurts because i miss him so much and i just wanna make sure he is safe.I been told he will be safe cuz he is working with sf.It's just so hard we have known each other for 3 years and we talked every day and now we can't .I also cry just about every night bc when i don't hear from him i get scared.reading this helped me thanks you so much i loved it


April 6 years ago

Thank you so much, I never knew that it was so unsafe to post anything about when they come home. This helped me so much! My Husband has yet to deploy, but he will be soon, and i've just been going over and over in my head the feelings and emotions that I might feel, and none of my friends really understand what I'm trying to get at.. Thank you again. Hope all is well


Chachafance profile image

Chachafance 6 years ago from Eufaula, AL Author

Thank you for your comments and I'm glad that what I thought was a long rant has been been so helpful to many! Just know that you're not alone! There are many of us going through the same thing and it's so tough and sometimes you may feel like you can't or won't get through it but just don't give up!! *hugs* to all of you :)


KELLY RUTKOSKI 6 years ago

My husband deployed a few days ago as part of the surge. I am prior service and our last deployment we were there together. We didn't have kids and we weren't married yet. Now Im just the spouse on the outside looking in, we have a child and we are married. I can't stop crying. I don't want to see anybody when I have friends right up the street. I am a wreck. Im terrified for his safety. I know a lot of people who were blown up, have massive TBI's and are in one way or another effected by the stress of a combat zone. I just need him to come home safe. I can't stop the worry of the unknowns and what if's. Its driving me to the brink of insanity. I love him more than anything. He is my absolute best friend in the world. Nobody can compare to him. I few days down, better majority of the year to go. I can't bring myself to go out. I need something to pass the time, but can't think of anything reasonable to do. Any advice?


Katybug 6 years ago

I met the most amazing guy in May of this year. We started dating and it felt like we've known each other forever. Everything just fell into place. I've never felt so connected or such a degree of love for someone...especially so fast. It's very different from the relationships I've had in the past. And of course...you guessed it. He's deploying to Afghanistan. This won't be until May/June 2011 but I feel this sense of impending doom. I'm even second guessing the relationship now! I feel terrible. I just don't know how my life would even look with him gone for almost a year. I guess I'm timid about having something so wonderful for 8 more months and then gone. I know we are going to get even closer over the next 8 months as we are getting very serious now. I feel like I'm going to ruin what time we do have together with all these "what ifs" that plague my mind 24/7!! I hate discussing deployment with him b/c I feel like I'm always giving him an FYI that we might not make it thru as a couple. That people change, a year changes a lot...etc etc. I hate myself for doing that. It's almost like I'm trying to let "us" down easy or sabotage our relationship?? I need to calm down and breathe. I've never met anyone like him and we feel exactly the same about one another. My worry is that if I do go thru this and manage to keep my emotions under control/sanity in check, he comes home unscathed, what happens when he's told he will deploy again?? I'm not sure I could handle it. Since it's new love, I feel like I could conquer the world and do anything for this man. I just hope I don't fizzle out and disappoint him and myself. I've never dated a military man so this is all new to me. He is the most caring and thoughtful individual I've ever been with. I feel so lucky and I'm so proud of him. I'm scared to death this job will eventually tear us apart. He has deployed 4 times and he's only 25. He doesn't believe he'll be in line to deploy again anytime soon but that's no guarantee. Anyone with ANY advice, please help me!


A Caballero 6 years ago

I get so excited just to hear his voice and see that he has phoned. I do aim to keep busy. But definitely get the highs and lows...don't discuss with anyone because they would think I am nuts.

I keep in mind, he has a duty to fulfill and obligation. This is important to him so it must be for me as well.

My heart goes out to him. Though we aren't married, he definitely has a huge huge piece of my heart and soul.


Chachafance profile image

Chachafance 6 years ago from Eufaula, AL Author

How about writing in a journal to help get your feelings out?


No name 2 years ago

Really needed this today .. Not in a very good place at the moment .. Just missing my husband a lot .. We have been married three years . but with time spent together while not on deployment it's more like 6 months As soon as you get use to having them back there gone again it seems . I honestly don't know what to do I just want to sleep and be left alone I know I'm not a nice person to be around right now and don't really want to be around anyone .. Iv never wanted to sleep so much .or cried so much for no reason I feel like I don't really belong anywhere not back home where I grew up ( everything and everyone has changed and life just moves on ) don't feel like I belong at our command ( just had a few bad experiences with military spouces and the few Iv become friends with have all moved recently ) .. I just feel lost and alone and don't know what to do at this point ...just want to sleep forever ..

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