How To Survive: Military Deployments
Saying Goodbye is the Hardest Part
I've been there. My soldier was given three days notice until he was shipped out. We knew it was coming, but we didn't know the exact date. It was so difficult to know that I only had hours left with him.
The day he left, they spent a few hours organizing everyone in the motor pool while wives and children looked on from the sidelines. Watching my husband walk out that door was one of the hardest days of my life.
It is difficult to comprehend that it will be a year before you get to see them again.
But it's possible to make it through. With the right mindset and support system, you can cope with the challenges. Military spouses do it all the time, and we are stronger because of it.
There are a variety of things that need to happen to make life without your soldier a little smoother. You should start with the legal things, because, to be honest, those will be the easiest.
- Get a Power of Attorney- This is really important. If you want to be able to make any major changes, you need this. For example, when my husband was deployed, I needed to buy a new car because my old car's motor blew up. Luckily, I had his POA, so the whole process went very smoothly.
- Become an "authorized user" on all accounts- This includes your cable, internet, cell phone, and any other type of service provider that you have. There may come a time that you need to contact customer service, and if you are not authorized, you will not be allowed access to any information.
- Create a will- This is hard to think about, but it has to be done. For one, you need a living will that details how your soldiers wants to be cared for and whether he/she wants to be kept on life support. Another will needs to be created to be sure that your soldier's estate and life insurance benefits are directed to the correct recipients in case the worst happens.
- Update your soldier's life insurance policy- Being in a war increases a person's likelihood of dying. This is fact, and there is no way around it. It is wise to increase your soldier's life insurance coverage while they are overseas.
Logistical preparations include a variety of decisions. It is important to discuss these with your soldier so that he/she can be prepared, and you go into the deployment as a team
- Decide where you are going to live. Often, many military spouses opt to move to wherever their family currently lives. This ensures that they have a solid support system, help with childcare, and familiar faces in their everyday lives. Other spouse choose to stay at the soldier's duty station. This can be beneficial for a variety of reasons: no moving expenses, more stability for kids, or even just to prove that they are strong enough to handle it. There is no correct choice, only a choice that is right for you.
- If you have children, what are the childcare plans? School-aged children will need to be enrolled in school wherever they may be living for the deployment. If the spouse works outside of the home, arrangements for daycare need to be made.
- Make sure you know how to do everything necessary to run the household. Often, partners will divide the required chores and duties of the household. However, if the solider is solely responsible for something, for instance paying the bills, it is important to know how and when the bills need to be paid, and the method for budgeting should be discussed as well.
Has your spouse ever deployed?
In truth, nothing will fully prepare you for the emotional stress and sadness that deployment brings. But it is important to try to prepare yourself so that you can be strong for your soldier. It is important for them to feel as comfortable as possible leaving you behind so that they can stay focused on the mission and on being safe so that they can make it home.
- Know that it will be hard. For some, it will be the hardest thing they ever do in their lives. Be prepared to face challenges, struggle, and to live with a hole where your soldier once was.
- Consider finding a therapist. This option may not be for everyone, but it can be helpful. By having someone to talk to about your emotions, you create a healthy outlet for any frustrations you may have.
- Get a support system. Friends, family, FRG members, anyone. You need people in your life if you are going to make it. Join clubs, go to school, attend church. There are so many ways to meet people. And you will be glad to have someone to lean on.
- Prepare your children. Deployments can be especially confusing to children. They do not fully understand why their parent has to leave. They need to be prepared as much as possible. Try to explain what is going to happen, and be sure to emphasize that it is not permanent. Buying things like "daddy dolls" can also help make the process a little easier, especially for the little ones.
To Help Kids Cope
The Difference Between Sadness and Depression
It is important to understand the difference between normal sadness and clinical depression.
Everyone has experience sadness in his or her life. The key is to know when that sadness develops into something more harmful.
Key Characteristics of Depression:
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- The inability to get out of bed
- Thoughts of suicide
- Significant weight loss or weight gain
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
If you are currently experiencing any of these symptoms, please consult your physician. You may need some help to get back on track.
It's finally here. You've been counting down, crossing off days on your calendar, and now it's finally here. It's like Christmas, only better.
It is important to have certain expectations for those first fews weeks, or even months that your solider is home.
- Try not to do too much too fast. Piling chores and responsibilities on your soldier the minute they get home can be overwhelming. It is important to help ease them back into the civilian world. Yes, you have been working very hard, and you definitely need a break. Just have your soldier pitch in a little at a time until you are back to your normal routine.
- Watch for signs of PTSD. Being overseas may have cause psychological damage to your soldier. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is common among war veterans. Some signs of PTSD include the following: flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, constant anxiety or tenseness, disinterest in usual activities, being detached from loved ones, substance abuse, short temper, or problems concentrating. If you believe that your solider is suffering from PTSD and is not getting treatment for it, be sure to contact his NCO or someone you can trust to help him/her get the treatment necessary.
- Take some leave. It's amazing what a little vacation time can do. Be sure to do something that your soldier is up for. Visit the family, head to the beach, go camping. Do whatever will help your solider relax more.
And, most of all, enjoy having your solider home. Many families are not as lucky. It is truly a blessing that your soldier came home to you.
© 2013 Stephanie Constantino