Almost every military family goes through deployment . . .
And with the Army’s new “deploy or get out” attitude, it’s becoming more and more common. Service members can be given months of notice before a deployment, or virtually no notice at all.
This Day of Deployed, here are 10 practical tips to help your family get through deployment.
1. Do your research
Find out as much as you can about the deployment; where, when, why, how long — any information you have access to. Read about other experiences. You’re going to want to arm yourself with knowledge now, so you can go a little less crazy when they’re gone.
2. Organize your finances
Save your money, pay off debt, and get that bank account in order. Income can get complicated when your better half isn’t there to help manage it. Knowing exactly how much money you have, and what’s going in and out, will help you get a grip on things.
3. Plan your communication
Letters, emails, phone calls, Skype. Find out how you can stay in touch with your spouse while they’re away, and how often they’ll be able to talk to you. (Though, you’re probably going to want to glue your phone to your hip anyway).
4. Be open
Share your feelings with your spouse — even if they’re negative. They’re likely experiencing some of the same emotions. Establishing an open line of communication will help you get through this together, and take a huge weight off your shoulders.
5. Make the time count
Spend as much time with your spouse as you can before they deploy. Enjoy new things together, and document them with pictures and videos. You will cherish these moments while they’re gone.
6. Establish Independence
Make sure that you can do everything your spouse does for you when they are home; whether that’s paying the bills or mowing the lawn.
This might be harder if you don’t live on base, but try to reach out to other military spouses. They likely understand what you’re going through in ways that civilians can’t. You don’t have to become best friends; just having someone to chat with is enough sometimes.
8. Find support
Whether it be within the military community, your family, friends, colleagues — make sure you have a support system to fall back on when life gets too hard. You need people who will check up on you, even when you say you’re okay.
9. Send care packages
Pouring your love and support into a package for your spouse will help you feel better about being so far away from them. Take your time creating sentimental little gifts, and organizing more practical items that your spouse will appreciate.
10. Stay active
Make sure you’re doing things. Engage in work, your kid’s lives, hanging out with friends, etc. Give yourself a couple days to feel that sadness… and then get back up. Unfortunately, deployments will turn you into the single parent. The head of the household. The crazy cat lady. Whatever it is, you’ll have to figure out how to live your life without your spouse at your side.
Rest assured: it won’t be forever.