A Military spouse is never going to forget how hard it was to let their spouse go, how lonely the nights were, or, how happy they were when they finally came home.
It’s been years since the first time my husband deployed, over a decade ago. But that deployment changed my life forever, as it changed the lives of so many of my military spouse friends.
That deployment changed my husband and all of the men he served with. That deployment still comes up in my mind, and I always think about those who lost so much during those 15 months.
Recently I saw this article going around Facebook again, as it often does every once in a while, Europe’s deadliest deployment. I always re-read the article when I see it, and reading those words brings me right back to that deployment. That place. And those feelings.
Our men were gone for so long, many didn’t see their spouse for over a year, and my husband and I went 11 months between R&R and homecoming.
So many men were lost, so many didn’t come home, and not everyone who made it home was the same.
Us military spouses, being in a very small military community, had to cling to one another. I have never experienced anything quite like that since and I am thankful I had that type of experience during that 15-month deployment.
We somehow made it through that deployment, all 15 months of it, but that deployment changed us forever. That deployment shaped me into who I am today, more than any other deployment.
That deployment shaped me into who I became as a parent, realizing what was important and what I needed to let go. That deployment shaped me as a wife and gave me the strength to get through whatever came our way in the future.
Sometimes I wonder how I went so long without seeing my husband. In the deployments since we have never had to be apart for that long. And these days, even a few weeks seems so challenging.
When you are apart like that, you are living different lives. You have to. I had to be there for my boys, making parenting decisions, and doing what was right for our home. He had to be aware of what his mission was, and focus on what he had to do for his job, and how to stay safe.
We both dealt with loss.
Me, for friends who lost their husbands, and for the grief our community endured when we heard news of another death. You could see it on everyone’s faces as you walked around the Army post. We were all feeling the weight of the deployment, in so many different ways.
For my husband, who lost friends, ones who had just as much desire to return home to their spouses and children as he did. There is still so much pain there. A pain I will truly never understand.
And now, all these years later we will hear of someone else who has lost their life to suicide, and we grieve again, for the ripples of that deployment or deployments after that are still affecting people to this day.
Deployments are a bit different now. Deployments are shorter, and for that I am thankful. Communication is much easier, and that helps. However, deployments are still not easy and the military and military spouses need as much support as they can get.
Support not only during deployments, although that is important, but support after because that is an emotional ride for everyone.
When I think back to those 15 months, I realize that we just had to keep going, day by day. We couldn’t give up, even if we thought we wouldn’t make it through. And there were plenty of times we felt that way.
We had no choice but to get through the days apart and pray that our soldiers would come back to us.
You never forget your deployments. They stay with you forever. The smallest of things can remind you of what you went through. The smallest of things can take you right back.
Our military will probably always go to war in some form. And there will always be military families, spouses, and children who are going through the deployment back at home. And those of us that go through them will always remember these deployments and how we changed because of them.
We can learn more about ourselves from the time apart, and work to make life a little easier the next time our spouse has to go. We can support others going through a deployment, and let them know that they can get through them too.
This post does contain affiliate links!
Here are a few military spouse resources that can help you through deployments, post-deployment, or military life in general:
Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage by Corie Weathers
Is there one deployment that sticks with you above any others? How do you work through everything?