Going to war.
Sending your spouse off to go to war.
It’s a word that military families know well. It is a word that brings up a lot of scary feelings. It is a word that probably feels different based on your experience with it.
As we head into 2020, with news of tensions heating up in Iran, us military families can’t help but think what this means. More war.
Some of us have been doing this for a long time. A very long time.
And all these years of war can weigh on us. Even though we know this is a part of the deal. Even though we know that being a military spouse means deployments to war zones. Even though we know that this was a part of what enlisting meant.
Some military families are getting ready for yet another deployment. And after so many, this may feel quite exhausting. The weight of previous deployments sits on their shoulders. The weight of the last fifteen, sixteen or seventeen years feels like a burden that is sometimes to difficult to bear.
As deployment orders come, military families do what they always do.
At first, there could be tears, maybe many of them. Children don’t always understand and the spouse wonders how they will manage. As deployment orders come, slowly we military spouses accept what is to come with them.
We know that saying goodbye will be difficult, it always is.
We know spending months apart is not going to be a picnic, it never has been. And adding more distance isn’t ideal.
We know that there will be good deployment days and bad deployment days and anything in between.
And as much as we know we can get through another separation, after so many years of war, saying goodbye again is another burden and one we really wish we didn’t have to go through.
For some, there just wasn’t enough time at home.
For others, a deployment comes at the worst possible time. Their spouse will miss so much, just like they have before. Just like they have the last six or seven times.
We could argue if it is right for the same people to go through this over and over again. But then if they didn’t go, who would? We are an all-volunteer military for a reason, a reason that most of us support.
But at some point, we also have to ask, how much is too much?
How many months away is okay? How much more do military families endure? Is there a breaking point?
Would so many leave the service before 20 years if there were not as many deployments? Would the military be stronger if we were not involved in so many years of war? Is there any other way?
My fear and the fear of many is that this could go on for so many more years. During my time as a military spouse, I have seen quite a few changes when it comes to deployments. Things change, they always do.
Communication is so much easier than it used to be. But due to recent announcements, some will be deployed without the technology they have been used to.
And as much as we might think things are getting better overseas, are they? Will they? Won’t there always be something?
It often seems like when things seem calm, something else happens. When it seems as if the world might be getting better, something else happens in to remind us that there will always be tensions.
We, as military spouses and families want to stay strong. We want to be there for our service members. We want to be the ones back at home holding down the homefront. But what happens when yet another deployment seems a little too much?
All these years of war have been hard on military families. There is no ignoring that. Rates of anxiety and depression have gone up. We need all the extra support we can get. We need help to get through these years, no matter how long they last.
As your service member returns home, there can be even more stressful situations. From PTSD and helping your spouse heal to just the day to day of having your partner back in your home or your daily life. This all adds to the stress military families experience.
Then to do it all over again just a few years, or even months later. Repeat for the rest of your spouse’s career. That is quite a lot to take on to our shoulders. Are already weary shoulders.
I think more than anything it is important for America in general to remember this. It is easy to say the military should do this or do that, but the military is made up of men and women, all with families, all with loved ones back home.
It is important for America to know that military families need support systems.
For our children, in and out of school. For us, for our careers, and for our day-to-day lives.
We need good friends to depend on, good leadership that understands the importance of families, and a listening ear when things get a little too much for us back at home.
Wars will come. We know this. We are aware.
We will try to prepare for the road ahead as much as possible. We will try to figure out the best way to make it through another deployment. We will put on our game face and do what we have to do.
For all the years of war, we have been through and for all the years of war that might be ahead.
If you are new to military life, please check out The Newbie’s Guide to Military Life: Surviving a PCS and More by Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life and Mrs Navy Mama. Your guide for learning about military life.