Deployment sucks. There’s no denying it, and, unfortunately, there’s no way to magically make it easier. It’s not so simple as one more person telling you to keep your chin up, as if, maybe after you hear it enough times something will click in your head and you’ll no longer feel down. Nope. Sorry! Not gonna happen.
I’m new to this, and I’m taking everyone else on their word and hoping that it will get better and easier. I hear the first month is the hardest. We’ll see! But in the meantime, I’ve found some comfort in some resources I found online. I’d like to share them in hopes that someone else might also enjoy them – whether you’re a spouse, parent, sibling, or friend of a deployed soldier! So, here we go, in chronological order…
Before He Leaves
1. If you are feeling a bit frazzled and trying to remember what needs to be covered before he leaves, here are a few tips from eHow.com: Finances, vehicles, holidays, and household maintenance – all important things to add to your pre-deployment to-do list. See the full article by clicking here.
2. I did not have to face the problem addressed in this article on ChristianMilitaryWives.com. However, I still found some really good advice in it, and would recommend it to you, especially if you find that your soldier is seeming more distant the closer deployment gets.
“Don’t let your sour, bitter thoughts get in the way of your relationship with Christ or your husband. Don’t let pre-deployment jitters get you down! You are armed with something that non-Christians do not have. You have God on your side, ‘if God be for us, who can be against us?’ Romans 8:31”
3. There are several good all-inclusive articles I found. They include advice for Pre-, During, and Post-Deployment. Twoofus.org focuses on Preparing Your Marriage for a Military Deployment with advice about things like patience, blame, and infidelity. Red Cross has an article on Deployment Tips that focuses mostly on homecoming, but it also has a really thorough checklist that will prove useful throughout the entire deployment.
I saved the best for last, though. As far as an overview of the whole process of deployment, I liked this article by Stacey the best. She touched on some things that I really was beginning to think I was alone in feeling. The truth is that, as she says, “just about any emotion you have during this time period is normal.” Reading this article really helped me remember I’m not alone, and, believe me, it’s good to have constant reminders of that fact.
“Depending on your husband’s unit, you could have months of notice before they deploy or as little as a few hours. Your first reaction could very well be shock, disbelief and a feeling of helplessness. You may have thoughts run through your head about flying off to another country and disappearing. Although this is common, it’s NOT recommended! They will find you and then not only will he be deployed, he will probably serve jail time as well and have pay and rank stripped from him.”
-Stacey – MarriedtotheArmy.com (Dealing With the Emotional Roller Coaster of Deployment)
While He’s Gone
2. Your soldier deserves to come home to the real you, so take care of yourself while he’s gone. Exercise, journal, work on projects, set goals, et cetera! Read eHow’s article (this is a different article than that mentioned in the first section) for more thoughts on the subject. And, I would also recommend this Military Mama’s post called Lessons Deployment Has Taught Me. It’s okay to be sad! Finally, read quotes from other wives at ivillage.com that are, supposedly, the best 21 tips you can find!
“People are just going to say things in hopes it makes you feel better. Let them.”
–Lessons Deployment Has Taught Me
3. Meanwhile, aside from keeping your body and mind cared for, your soldier is off in a distant, probably harsh, land. He (or she) is separated, not only from his spouse, but also from all of his loved ones. He is probably sleeping on a cot most nights, in a room with little in it to speak of home. He needs care, too, and don’t forget it. So, tell him frequently how you feel about him and that he is in your thoughts and prayers. Thank him for his service; express your pride. Send letters!
4. Care packages are another great thing to do for deployed soldiers. Ask your soldier (or his wife) for a list of items he would like to receive. There are lots of websites, some of which are listed below, which will give suggestions on items you might choose to send. Here’s a compiled list:
- Foods they can’t get from the DFAC or PX
- Personal hygiene items
- Extra socks and underwear
- Pictures or posters for walls, if they have any
- Travel-sized medicines and toiletries
- Moist towlettes/cleansing cloths
- Reading material
- Puzzles/other games he might enjoy
- Visit these websites for more info: How to Support…, How to Make…, How to Ship…, US Army Care…
DO NOT send any of the following:
- Melt-able Items (Chocolate, et cetera)
Make sure you have your soldiers full, correct address before you mail anything! And, before you go off packing things into just any old box, check your local post office for FREE boxes. They are called flat-rate boxes, and you do not have to pay for them. Take as many as you want! They come in several sizes. No matter how much they weigh, they have a flat rate for shipping, and it’s a very good deal. You can also visit USPS.com and order 10 or 20 boxes, which they will deliver to your door for free! You will also need a customs form (2976-A) for each package, and you can get those for free at the post office or free from USPS.com. Additionally, everyone should check out THIS website which tells you how to get an entire Military Care Kit for free. It has everything you need all included.
Once more, I want to link you to the following articles which include a few homecoming tips.
Finally, there are a few bright-sides to deployment, as outlined at Milspouse.com. Head on over there to see what they are. And I would love it if you had suggestions on additions to that list. The more bright sides we can come up with, the better! My favorite from their list is how much easier cleaning is when he’s gone. Especially with no kids, yet, to dirty things up. 🙂
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