My name is Corrie Andreacchio, and I am a proud US Army Reserve spouse. My husband, SFC Joseph Andreacchio has served for over 18 years and is a two-time combat veteran with service in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
As a reserve spouse, we often do not have access to on-post resources and ease of access to connect in person with other military spouses, especially those from our spouse’s unit during a time of separation. During my husband’s 2013-2014 deployment to Afghanistan, many of the soldiers were from areas that spanned as many as 600 miles from the reserve center in Reading, PA.
In the first 30 days of that separation, it was hard. I found myself scouring the Facebook posts and FRG (now SFRG) community page to find potential matches for friendship. I was fortunate to cross paths with two incredible women – Erin and Nicole. We forged a friendship that was 100% virtual. We texted, we joined each other for virtual wine nights, and we set GOALS. Goals to hold each other accountable – and when we fell short, we leaned into each other and shared tears, virtual hugs (Nicole is NOT a hugger so this worked out to her benefit), and the permission to make it a “take-out” night for dinner.
Since our husbands deployed together in 2013-2014, we have all faced at least one more deployment off-cycle from one another. This was a new hardship because there is nothing like the camaraderie of going through a deployment alongside other spouses’ at the same time. However, we were able to lean into these ideas and support each other in spite of not having the common experience.
I was lucky. This is not always the case. Many of our reserve spouses are isolated. Isolated from their military community and isolated in their local community where there is not a common understanding of the sacrifice a deployment can take on the military family.
How can we support our reserve spouses during times of separation? Be there. Call. Text. When you do not know what to say, simply ask how they are doing.
Here are some ideas to guide your support of our reserve and national guard spouses when they are not able to join and/or attend more formal spouses’ clubs or SFRG functions due to location.
1)Flat Stanley meets Green Soldier.Go to a party store (or lean on Amazon) and send green soldiers to your circle. Family, friends, and co-workers can all get involved. Create a Facebook group where you encourage everyone to post photos with their soldiers and the adventures that they are having at home while the service member is deployed. This is a great way to capture the memories for the service member upon their return and an awesome way for non-military connected support persons to participate.
2)Drinks and Links.You can mail your reserve spouse cut pieces of construction paper and join them on a Facetime or Zoom to create a deployment countdown calendar while enjoying your Coffee, Wine, or Mocktail. Have one in your home in addition to theirs and celebrate the removal of each link. I would suggest a deployment countdown of either weeks or months, but Nicole plans to have a caterpillar of a daily countdown in her home. Godspeed, Nicole!
(OPSEC is critical, Do not share your exact countdown information).
3)Monthly Celebration.Did your reserve or national guard’s spouse leave on the 20thof the month? Make it a point to connect with your friend on that day. Send a greeting card, FaceTime, and have a dance party. We highly recommend Katy Perry’s ROAR.
4)Start or rediscover a Hobby.DIY home décor, gardening, knitting, scrapbooking. Pick a hobby that you can both do together. When our husbands were deployed in 2013-2014 Erin, Nicole, and I picked up working out. We all achieved significant goals and ended the deployments working out consistently two times a day, most days. We were stronger together and sweating for that homecoming
5)Snail mail.There is nothing more fun than receiving happy mail. However, happy mail is really rare these days. My friend, Rebekah, who I met through a military spouse non-profit as volunteers, reminded me of the power of snail mail during my husband’s 2020 unaccompanied CONUS mobilization. She was so good about sending me greeting cards, letters, stickers for my daughter, and some surprise Amazon goodies that completely turned my day around. Somehow, most likely because of her husband’s career service as an EOD with the Air Force these snail mail happy mail packages always arrived on a day I really needed them. These do not have to be elaborate. Hand write a letter, and create a masterpiece with crayons and construction paper. Being thought of is what it is all about during a time of separation.
Erin, Nicole, and I have a lasting bond built on common experiences and the ability to make time for each other during our spouse’s deployment. Soon we will be celebrating TEN YEARS of friendship simply as a result of our husband’s jobs. It is truly an extraordinary thing to know that your spouse’s job can open a door to incredible friendships for reserve spouses if you’re able to find out how to connect with them.