Deployment Tips Straight From the Spouses
By Kendall Sandage
We’ve collected a variety of different tips from spouses who have endured successful deployments. We hope you enjoy and are able to use these while your loved one is away! You can do it! If you feel like you would like more deployment help outside of the traditional military services, we offer a variety of therapies to help you and your family through all stages of deployment.
- Create mini-milestones to look forward to. Although my husband was gone for nearly a year, we had R&R to look forward to- if you are deployed for a certain period of time, you get to come home for a week or two. Instead of looking at the deployment as a year, I broke it down into two parts- the countdown until we could see each other on R&R and, after that, the countdown until he came home for good. When he came home on R&R, we had a wonderful reunion and spent some quality time together (ahem, obviously- we are now expecting our first child in October). Saying goodbye again was once more heart-wrenching but, seeing as how we now faced three months apart instead of eleven, it didn’t seem as insurmountable. We could do it.
- Lean on your family and friends. My family and friends were awesome while my husband was deployed. I spent numerous weekends on Long Island with one of my besties (and even had a college roommate reunion!), had a wine tasting weekend with my sister and mother-in-law, attended numerous family weddings, and overall had a lot of fun. Lots of time was spent with my stepmom in hot yoga classes, and I even got my dad to start running with me- it was so fun to cross the finish line of his first race with him.
- Take advantage of technology. Communicating with your deployed loved one isn’t like it used to be. I was talking to a colleague who was deployed forty or fifty years ago. He said his wife had to often wait a month (or more) just to get a letter from him. Through the wonders of technology, my husband and I were able to communicate almost every day. While Skype is cool for video, we found the connection to be iffy and eventually just relied on Google chat (and email) to communicate, along with the occasional phone call from him. We quickly established a routine (which was difficult at first, since he was often waking up and getting ready for the day when I was heading to bed) and I greatly looked forward to our daily talks.
- Don’t forget old standbys. Although we communicated nearly every day, I was happily surprised when the first letter from my husband arrived. I have over forty letters from him (he has some from me too of course) that I will cherish forever. It was a nice treat to open the mailbox and see a letter waiting from Afghanistan.
- Send packages! Sending packages to deployed loved ones is easier than ever. You pay a flat rate (which is incredibly reasonable) and it gets to them within a week! I had a lot of fun assembling packages for Brian- making cookies to send (they can keep if you wrap each one individually in plastic), picking up fun snacks from Trader Joe’s, picking up toiletries, essentials and fun gifts (though make sure you don’t send anything that is too heavy- they have to carry all of that stuff home with them!) I think it can be incredibly lonely for the soldiers over there and while a package isn’t much, it’s nice to let your loved one know that you are thinking about them.
- Engage in a hobby you love. For me, this was running and hot yoga. With my husband overseas, I threw myself into training for races. Training plans gave me a structured schedule to follow, and I loved the feeling of accomplishment I got completing a training run. I participated in some really fun and incredible races, including a mud run, the Boilermaker (my most favorite race to date), a trail race and my first half-marathon. Running not only kept me busy- I also got the bonus side effects of lots of endorphins (how could I NOT feel good after running ten miles?) and getting into fantastic shape. Runners are an interesting group. There is such a sense of kinship and camaraderie, and I met so many new friends and local bloggers through running. Perhaps most important of all, running was incredibly cathartic for me. If I was feeling sad or stressed, I knew that a run, while it wouldn’t bring my husband home, could help lift my spirits and get me through it.
Do you have any tips to give? Leave a comment below!