In 2013 my husband left for his 4th deployment. I didn’t want him to go. I really didn’t want him to go.
He left for his 1st deployment in 2006 and the longest break he had had from deployments was just short of 2 years. I felt like he was always gone or leaving or getting ready to leave. He deployed 1 year after he returned home from his long 15-month deployment.
That was definitely not enough time at home. I felt like after 15 months they should have been home for at least as long as that, if not double that in order to really have time to heal and get ready to go again. We were not that lucky.
To prepare for a deployment, there has to be a lot of training that happens. So basically, he got home, we had block leave and then they started to prepare for the next deployment. Multiple long deployments can take a lot from families and the soldiers themselves.
Our family really felt this as we said goodbye again for another year apart.
These days, my husband is usually home which feels so strange to me after so many years when he wasn’t. So many years of wondering if he would be there for the next Christmas or birthday. Years of being the only adult in the house and then having to figure out how to let him back into our routines.
As I look back at our deployments, I know they have made me a stronger person than I otherwise would have been. I have made friends that became like family because of them. I sometimes wonder what my life would look like had my husband never joined the Army, never been away from us.
And I can’t imagine it.
I can’t imagine what life would have been like had he been home for everything during those years. Our story didn’t go that way.
Now that we are past the rapid deployment stage, I can’t help but think of the weight of multiple deployments and what they can mean to military families.
Sometimes the marriage doesn’t survive. Sometimes the marriage does but both of you become different people, with so many challenges ahead. You change, they change, the family changes.
During deployments, you will have to change the way you think about everything. You will have to let things go. You will realize that what you assumed your life would be is going to be something completely different.
When you go through multiple deployments you will look back at your “survival” days.
Those survival days when you couldn’t help but wonder how you will make it through. When you can only do the minimum. When you take the deployment day by day, or hour by hour.
When everything is calm, you will wonder what bothered you so much that you couldn’t do all those extra things you liked to do. You will wonder why you were so anxious and possibly why those days were so hard. And then you remember.
You remember the lonely nights, the days on the calendar that would not pass quick enough and the possibility that sat in your heart that your spouse might not even make it home after all.
When you go through multiple deployments you will become stronger.
You have to. Anytime someone goes through something difficult, they get through the ordeal, stronger than they were before. This will help you in the future as you can be a listening ear to someone going through that issue themselves.
You can have compassion for those who are having a harder time and can prepare for any future struggles that might be ahead. You can also help your spouse through the coming years, no matter how many deployments are ahead.
Service members can come back from deployment with so many wounds. Some might be visible and some might not be. Being there for your spouse in any way you can is important.
Knowing when there is a bigger problem than even you can’t handle is also important. Getting help is a must and being patient will be your best friend through it all. Remember, you don’t have to go through all of this alone.
You will feel the weight of multiple deployments and will have to figure out how to move forward from them…
War is rough. Deployments are rough. Even years later you might still feel the weight of them all. Get the help that you need and remember military spouse, you are strong and you can get through this, even if it is one day at a time.