15 Tips For Surviving Your First Deployment
I can still remember driving up to where we would drop off my husband. Other wives and children were already there. There were so many people standing around, worried and sad. Soon it was time to say goodbye. This was it. He was really leaving. After we said our goodbyes, after he kissed me and our 2-year-old goodbye, he went to the gate. There the men waited for what seemed like forever. Then they headed for the bus. I waited with the other wives. And then waited some more. Then we saw the buses. They pulled out from where they were parked, with our husbands inside. The buses went right by us, we waved. Then we cried. This was it. My first deployment. How was I going to make it through?
Somehow I did just that. I got through this deployment. My husband left for Iraq for the first time in August 2006. 10 years have passed since that day and yet that day is still so fresh in my mind. I can still remember how I felt when he got on that bus when he said goodbye to us and started to walk away.
You won’t ever forget a deployment and you are never going to forget your first deployment. You just don’t know how things are going to go. You don’t have any experience sending your husband off to war.
As a military spouse blogger, I hear from my readers all the time about getting ready for their first deployment. 10 years may have passed and their spouses may be deploying somewhere else with a different mission but I think this advice can hold true.
Here are 15 tips for surviving your first deployment…
1. Find your battle buddies- You will need people to walk through this deployment with. They don’t necessarily have to be going through a deployment too but that helps. Having people to make plans with and go to on a regular basis during the deployment is going to help you a lot. If you don’t have any friends at your current duty station, see what you can do to get yourself out there to try to make some. They will make the deployment a little bit easier.
2. Invest in a journal- I love journaling. Doing so on a regular basis can be good for you, especially during a deployment. Getting your thoughts out and doing a bit of a brain dump can be helpful when you can’t sleep or if you are feeling really anxious.
3. Remember, this is temporary– During my deployments, I would remind myself that the deployment was temporary. That feeling alone was temporary. That I would not always have to miss my husband and that he would be home after so many days. That the deployment ache I was feeling was only going to be around for a temporary amount of time.
4. Go Home- Going home for a deployment might be a good option for you. There are a lot of factors to think about when trying to make this decision. Think about if going home would be good for you or if staying where you are would be best.
5. Ignore advice that doesn’t work for you- There are a lot of books and blog posts out there about deployments and this is one of them. It’s okay if you read advice about how to survive a deployment and either don’t agree or don’t think the advice would work for you. We are all our own people and what works for one person might not work for another. Read the advice and find what will work for you.
6. Don’t stress the small stuff- Let it go. If you find yourself being stressed about little things, let them go. During a deployment, you will be more stressed out, you will be playing the role of both mom and dad and you simply don’t have the time or patience to deal with little things. This might mean having to let something go or having to find new people to hang out with if your current friend circle is causing too much drama.
7. See what your post or base offers- You should take the time to look on your military post or military base to see what activities or programs they have available to you. As a deployed spouse, there might be certain benefits such as free babysitting or events and you will want to take part in them.
8. You are stronger than you think- You might not feel very strong at the moment. There might be too many days left to get through but you are stronger than you think and you can usually get through situations you never thought you could. The military life will make you a stronger person.
9. You are not the only one- However you are feeling during the deployment, know that you are not alone. There are other spouses out there feeling the same way that you are.
10. Not everyone is going to understand- The truth is, not everyone is going to understand how you are feeling during a deployment. Some spouses don’t struggle as much with deployments, civilians friends might not know what it is like to live without a spouse. You should find people that let you be yourself during a deployment and stay away from those that bring you down.
11. Cry it out- Feel like you need to cry? Do so. Have a good cry and let everything out. Doing so will help you get through your day. Crying does not mean you are not strong. Crying is one way to release your emotions and doing so can be a good thing.
12. Be trustworthy- When you are away from your spouse you both need to be able to trust one another. Be a spouse that your husband can trust. Be there for them and let them know you are standing by while they do their job overseas. This will make the deployment a little easier on them and easier on you.
13. Don’t worry about the next one- Sometimes you will hear about the next deployment during your current deployment. Try not to let that bother you. That is in the future and you will have plenty of time to worry about that deployment then. In some cases, that future deployment might not happen. Try to just focus on the now and not worry about what will come in the months or years to come.
14. Get creative- Deployments can bring out your creativity. Design something, plan a trip or just have extra fun with your kids. This will make the deployment go by a little faster.
15. Seek help if needed- In the end, if you are really struggling, seek help. You can see a counselor or a Chaplain. Don’t feel bad for having to do this. Going through a deployment can bring up a lot of emotions and you might struggle to know how to handle all of them. You can visit Military One Source for more information.