How to deal with military deployment
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:
- 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
- anxious (anxiety attacks may occur)
- panic (panic attacks may occur)
- eating issues (no appetite or eating too much)
- careless (just not caring about anything at all)
- angry (mad at the world)
- solitary (just want to be left alone)
- unable to focus
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
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.
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.
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 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!
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! :)
- Military Significant Others and Spouse Support
Information and support for military significant others and spouses on topics including bootcamp. PCS moves and deployment.
- Faith Deployed — Spiritual Support for Military Wives
Daily Encouragement for Military Wives
- Deployment Support Groups
An unofficial place for members to find others who are dealing with a deployment with the same command or to the same place.
- Deployment Support Meetup Groups
Helps groups of people with shared interests plan meetings and form offline clubs in local communities around the world about Deployment Support.
- Mobilization & Deployment
This is an information and support forum. Debates, topics and posts that are off topic, offensive or inflammatory are subject to being moved, edited or deleted without notice.
Premade Care Packages
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.