The longest deployment my husband went through was 15 months. The shortest was 5.5 months. And then we had a few in-between.
The 15-month deployment was long, and we lost a lot of men. That part of the deployment was so hard to deal with, and I am thankful that wasn’t quite the case in any of the deployments that followed that one.
I was so thankful to hear when the Army went down to 9 months for most deployments. I know that some do deploy for longer, but to hear that the 12 months (or longer) wasn’t the standard anymore was a relief.
I do know some spouses prefer a longer deployment vs a bunch of shorter ones. They can get into deployment mode and ride it out verses always going back and forth between their spouse at home and then being gone again. Spouses of special forces service members might have their spouse coming and going all year long, that is just the way their job works.
Within the military as a whole, there are many different deployment patterns, where some branches have longer deployments than others. Some service members also deploy more than others. There isn’t just one standard amount of time a military member will deploy.
If my husband does have to deploy, I would prefer he go for a shorter amount of time. Longer deployments can affect you in ways shorter deployments might not. And deploying over a year brings up other challenges.
That doesn’t mean that shorter deployments are easy, or that there is a minimum amount of time your spouse has to be gone before you are allowed to miss them.
That doesn’t mean that there is a minimum amount of time your spouse has to be gone before you are allowed to be sad about them being away from you.
That doesn’t mean that there is a minimum amount of time for your spouse to be deployed before you are allowed to ask for help or to find support.
The truth is, deployments affect us all in different ways. One military spouse might be having a difficult time with the idea that her spouse is in a war zone, while another might be struggling with solo parenting or the loneliness that comes with being the only person in the home.
The truth is, a three-month deployment for one person could be just as difficult as a six-month deployment to someone else. How a military spouse views and even handles a deployment depends on so many factors.
There is no minimum amount of time to miss your spouse. You just do.
Whether they are gone for a two-week training over AT while in the National Guard, or an extended 15-month deployment while active duty.
Whether they are gone for a three-month school in the Air Force, or a six-month deployment to Africa with the Army.
Whether you are apart for a year while you PCS back to the US early, or you are apart for six weeks waiting to PCS to Germany to join your spouse, literally just waiting on paperwork.
We need to remember this when talking with other spouses. We need to remember what it was like when our spouse first left for basic, or when they left for their first deployment. We have all been through it and we can help each other out.
If you are currently going through a year-long deployment and hear a spouse complain about a three-month deployment, of course, you are going to want to say something. You might wonder why they think it is so hard when you have so much longer to go then they do. But the truth is, a deployment is a deployment and while a three-month deployment may look easy to someone going through a year-long deployment, the deployment is anything but easy.
So even though it can be hard to do sometimes, trust me, I have been there, we should try to put ourselves in other military spouse’s shoes. None of this is easy, and we all might need a little help every now and then. Try to remember what it was like the very first time you had to say goodbye to your spouse and send them overseas.
Compassion goes a long way in our military community. Being aware that others might be struggling is important. Do what you can to help other spouses instead of playing the “who has it worse” game. Our community will be stronger for it.
If you are currently going through a deployment and struggling a bit, you have come to the right place. Check out my blog posts on deployments, or any other part of military life. You can also join my Facebook group or connect with me on social media. You are not alone and you got this!