Dealing With Deployment

The BEST Advice on How to Survive a Deployment

 This post will discuss the different aspects of deployments. We’ve gathered information and details from over 50 military spouses and military members to bring you the BEST advice on how to tackle a deployment. We will cover everything from preparation for deployments to coping during the deployment to homecoming day. Throughout these topics, we will also share advice straight from military spouses and members. We understand that deployment is such a HARD thing to go through and conquer, but with this advice, you should be well on your way to dealing with deployments.

The BEST advice on how to deal with a deployment,

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  Military Deployment Survival

First, I’ll give you a little backstory on my experience. I am a military spouse. My husband, Marcos, is in the Marine Corps and we just recently went through our third deployment together. The first one in Afghanistan, the second one in Japan, and third one was an MEU, which is where they are on a ship stopping at different ports along the way. So, if you are reading this, just know I’ve been through it and I know exactly how you are feeling. Deployments are the worst. I get it: you and your family get torn apart from the sting of distance. There is absence in your heart and in your house. Your life gets put on hold and you hold your breath until your spouse hugs you on homecoming day, then you can breathe again. You don’t watch the news and you figure no news is good news. You keep yourself and kiddos as busy as possible. You show them pictures of their mom or daddy to remind them what they look like and how much their deployed parent loves them. I totally get it. Deployments are the worst and it’s a huge trial in life. But, you will survive deployment.

That’s why I’m here, to help ease that pain of the distance through the only advice I  know how to give. AND, I also recruited the help of over 50 military spouses and military members to give me their BEST advice as well.

Military Deployment Saying Goodbye

PREPARING FOR DEPLOYMENT

Preparing for a deployment definitely has it’s ups and downs. You almost come to point where you just want them to leave to get this deployment going for it to be over with, am I right? There are a lot of different aspects to prepare for the distance coming ahead.

  • Communication – Now, communication will probably be part of every aspect of deployment. The first way it suffers is when it comes to the distance. Before the deployment, you need to have a plan. Since communication is going to hinder your relationship the most, you need to talk about what your plan is as a couple or family to keep the line of communication open. Things you can do to prepare are: make Skype accounts, keep those usernames and passwords handy, purchase calling cards for overseas and decide if you are going to do letters or other forms of communication. My tip on writing letters is to make sure to date and number each letter because with the overseas postal system you will get cards and letters out of order. You can even go ahead and download calling apps that only require WiFi, because more than likely while your spouse is deployed, they will have their phone service cut off as well.
  • Important Documents – Yes, there has to be a boring part. LOL. But it is SO important for you to have the right documents in your hand while your spouse is gone on deployments. Now, as you know, I can only speak for the Marine Corps, but I’m sure all armed forces have certain documents in place that are the similar. Okay, so some of the important documents you NEED are:
    • Power of Attorney (POA) – This document is basically your life line. There are a few different types of POA’s from general to specific, but I’ve always gotten the general and that has worked fine. This document is something only your military member can get. A POA is what you need IF, for example, you want to sell your house, lease a house, or file your taxes while they are gone. Basically, it makes you both you and your spouse while they are gone.
    • Leave Earning Statement (LES) – This document tells you how much money they make. Which, you might not think is important, but when you want to go lease or rent something they, will need their proof of income.
    • Copies of Licenses and Social Security Cards – This is just for your own good. You NEVER know when you might need their identification numbers for something.
    • Copy of Deployment Letter – This is good to have handy as well. Even though I had the POA, I also had to turn this in with my taxes this past year while my husband was deployed to get our refund.
    • Other Important Things – Some other random things that you will need is your Family Readiness Officer (FRO) information – they are basically the communicator of ALL information about your service member. You need the American Red Cross number – if there is an emergency, they are your best bet to get ahold of your spouse as soon as possible. It’s also very important to know your spouse’s battalion, company, platoon and section name.

Now, there are probably many other important documents to refer to but I just wanted to list the ones I know I’ve personally dealt with first hand.

  • Saying Goodbye – Or, as I like to say, “See ya later.” This is the most emotional part of the deployment itself and those emotions can hit you before they leave, when you are actually hugging them, or while you are driving back home. It’s a different experience for everyone. But, unfortunately, it’s something that has to be done. Now, I don’t have kids, so I don’t know how it goes with them, but I’m sure it’s quite the emotional roller coaster, too. My best advice here is to be strong for your spouse. I’m not saying don’t cry, I literally cried my eyes out the second deployment, but I was still strong enough to stand there watch that bus rolling away into the distance.

Advice from Others

“Communication. Speaking openly before you or your spouse deploys about different communication tactics, and then actually putting those into practice when the time comes is what made the transition so much easier for us.” – Carly Audiss

“Be patient – nothing is set in stone!” – Amanda Overholts

Afghanistan Deployment

DURING DEPLOYMENT

Okay, so the distance has set in. You are settling in that this is your life for the next few months. This time is a critical time for you as an individual and for your marriage. This journey of deployment is not an easy one, but we’ve got some advice and tips to help during this time.

  • Keeping Busy – If there is one thing that popped up on my survey asking others for their advice, it was keeping busy. It’s the #1 key advice I tell anyone who asks me. There are MANY different ways to stay busy. If you have kiddos, I say invest in the kids – they will definitely keep you busy. For me, it was work and being surrounded by my family and friends. With work, you have more time to put into it, so why not ask for more work to do? I’m not saying you want to be drowning in work, but it wouldn’t hurt to add on another project or two. Also, being surrounded by family and friends will distract you SO much. I actually moved back home during the deployments and it was the best decision I could have made. I always had friends checking in on me and asking me to do things!
  • Set Goals – A great thing to do over this period of time while your sweetie is away is to set a goal for yourself! Your goal can be anything! I know for myself, I usually focus in on my health and working out. I set a goal to workout three times a week and lose a little weight, nothing crazy, but a doable goal. It gave me something to put my efforts toward and focus on something other than the deployment.
  • Countdowns – These are BIG with deployments – it’s a great way to have something to look forward to! Now, there are different countdowns and things you can do to countdown the days until you’re reunited. For couples with kids, I know a deployment wall is such a great tool – you include a box of letters for the parent, a clock of the time where deployment is located, and a physical countdown. This really makes it a better experience for your little ones. There are even countdowns where you put Kisses or chocolate into a jar, one for each day they are away – then you eat one chocolate each day until they are home. It’s neat because you can visually see the amount of chocolate {and days} shrinking! For me personally, I used an app on my phone (in the military community it’s known as the doughnut hole of misery). But I liked the app because it showed me on a pie chart how much time was left vs how much time you’ve done so far. To me it’s better for me to know that I’ve completed 30% of the deployment rather than knowing I still have 150 days left.
  • Care Packages/Gifts – I think care packages are such an easy way to show your spouse that you care and that you are thinking of them! People have been making themed care packages for awhile now. The Divas even have themed care package ideas like our Cheer Up Care Package Kit and our Christmas Care Package. Basically, my few tips for sending a care package is make sure to get the Large “If it fits, it ships” Flat Rate Box – it’s your best deal and you get a military discount on it. Also, make sure to grab the customs slips and have them filled out when you go to ship the box. And, if you don’t have time to run by the post office to pick up the boxes, you can get them shipped to you with supplies for free online by clicking here! Neat, right? So, a lot of people ask what exactly can you ship in a care package? I say send them their favorite snacks, magazines, stuff they actually need like shampoo and wipes, and you can always check out this site to make sure your item is safe to ship. As far as gifts go, they are ALWAYS a good idea. It’s a sweet reminder of home! One gift I gave to my husband, which he loved, was the Divas’ Open When Letters. They have such a sentimental touch and it gives your spouse something to look forward to. You can gift them something practical or go all mushy, but I think gifts are just a way of showing how much you miss and love them!

Needing more ideas for your long distance relationship while your sweetie is deployed? Check out Diva Central!

long-distance-relationship-help

Advice from Others

“Communicate often. Encourage often. Don’t share too many “problems” that the deployed member has no control over. Get involved with your community and give back to something to fill the time you usually spent with your spouse. For us, keeping God our number one focus and priority was an incredible and unbreakable foundation for our marriage to stand on.” – Cameo

“Have a great support system, including someone who has also had, or has, a spouse who deployed. That was the main thing that got me through it – talking to other women that knew exactly what I was feeling and how HARD it was!!” – Ericka Scott

“Take it one day at a time and don’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t feel obligated to make commitments if it begins to stress you out.  Last but not least, the days can be VERY long sometimes, so if you have a rough morning or a rough afternoon, don’t let it ruin your whole day. Take a break, calm down, and start over. This helped those VERY long days go by quicker and even be less frequent.” – Ali

Advice from Others with Children:

“ROUTINE!! It is so important for kids.  During the school year is easier because there is constant routine there and at home. It makes days go by faster. Get them into extra curricular activities as well. If you stay busy, the days go by faster and that’s less time to think about the big chunk missing from your home. Holidays can be bittersweet. While you are missing your spouse and they are missing their parent for such occasions, time always seems to fly around the holiday seasons. Summer time is hard because there is no school to keep them busy. But you can still make the days go by – go to a pool, splash pad, zoo, park dates, local attractions, fairs, beach, children’s museums, etc. Enroll your kids in summer camps. Keep them busy because it helps tire them out so they think less about who isn’t there. Take some rest time too. No one will judge you if you stay home in pj’s, watching movies, and eating ice cream for a day, or two, or four!” – Shaylee Vandyke

“Take your child’s feelings seriously. It’s hard to have your dad or mom gone. Print out a special picture that they can carry with them to school and help them write letters to their parent. Involve them in the plans to celebrate when they come home and ask them what THEY want to do to celebrate. Make sure your child hears you praising their parent for their sacrifice while they are gone so the children understand WHY they left.” – Rebecca

“A deployment wall was helpful with our 2-year-old. It had a countdown, what time is it where Daddy was at, and, of course, lots of skype “dates!”” – Kylie

Hugs after Deployment

Photo credit: Wonder Wood Photography

HOMECOMING

Homecoming is literally the BEST part of deployment. You are finally reunited back together again. Your heart is finally home. There is NO way for me to express the sense of relief and happiness I feel when I finally get to hug my husband for the first time in months. It’s such an anticipated event that your emotions may be an all-over roller coaster once again.  

Deployment Homecoming Signs

Photo credit: Wonder Wood Photography

  • Don’t write the date on your calendar – Now, I’m only saying this to save your calendar from looking like a hot mess. The dates WILL change and the time WILL change. It’s the military, you’d think they would do things on time, but they are all about changing that homecoming date. So, don’t get upset when the date is changed five, or more, times, it’s just something that happens and more than likely it’s for the protection of the members coming back. If it makes you feel better, we didn’t have an exact date on this last deployment until about two days out. And that time, oh was that fun, our guys were “supposed” to be in at 3:30 – well, I didn’t hug my man until 7:30. I know, so much fun, right?  

Waiting for Deployment Homecoming

Photo credit: Wonder Wood Photography

  • Outfit/Homecoming Sign – These might seem like small details now, but I’m telling you, when it comes down to getting close to homecoming day, you may be stressing on what to wear or to even have a sign. I say, wear what you want and rock it! Your spouse is just happy to see you, even if you were wearing a potato sack! Now, homecoming signs have recently become a big thing. The Divas have an adorable sign in our Welcome Home Kit {along with some other amazing products and ideas in there}. Honestly, I thought homecoming signs were corny, but my other military spouse wifey talked me into bringing one. I came to find out they are very helpful. I sent my spouse a picture of my sign before so he knew what it looked like. After, he said that was the only way he found me because he saw my sign in the crowds of people. So, see?  It does come in handy and is quite cute to hold as well!

Back Together After Deployment

Photo credit: Wonder Wood Photography

  • The Butterflies – Yep, like I said above, this day is such an anticipated day – don’t be surprised if you are an emotional roller coaster. Of course, you are excited, but you may also be nervous, too. I stress about everything, it’s my personality. So I was extremely nervous, butterflies in my stomach, about seeing my hubby again. What will we talk about? Will he leave his stuff everywhere? Will he notice the projects I did to the house? Will he like his belated Christmas gifts? Literally, that’s how my mind works, but no worries, I was excited too! I was mostly excited because, not only was I getting my husband back, but it was also his last deployment ever – which meant he was home; he was home for good.

Advice from Others

“I made sure the transition would be as 100% seamless for him as possible, and more! I wanted his home to not only be as similar to how it was when he left, but also better! So before he came home, I spent the last 3 letters or so just talking in detail about what each of us were doing every day… what our kids did from morning until night, what we talked about, what movies and shows we watched, if any of us learned something new – that was our current topic of conversation, I told him about my favorite meals right now, what the apartment was like, our yard, any new daily habits, or things I was doing to fill my time. I wanted him to know exactly what he was coming home to so that he could fit RIGHT back into place. And, to make sure everything was better, I stocked our cupboards, detailed our cars, cleaned the house, set out decorations for him, gave him a box of his favorite treats, and I even set out some cute presents on his side of the bed for after the kiddos were asleep. As the newness wore off, every day got more and more comfortable as he eased into his new reality!” – Chrissy Oliverson

Life after Deployment

Photo credit: Wonder Wood Photography

AFTER THEY RETURN

During this time it can be a BIG adjust period as a couple and as a family. If you think about it, for the past – however many months – your spouse has only been surrounded by other service members and only been communicating in a military way. Finding a problem and giving a solution. They haven’t had to talk about their feelings or anything like that in months. It’s as much a change for you as it is for them. From the simplest things like going on dates again to driving a car it’s just going to take time.

  • The Adjustment – Connecting back together mentally, physically, and emotionally is something that probably isn’t just going to happen overnight. A lot of people may not even think of this when their spouse returns, but there is going to be a period where it might be awkward. You can’t expect to just jump back into the swings things. Like just walking up and hugging again or even holding hands, you haven’t done that for months so it might take awhile to just naturally do those things again. You can always use conversation starters to help get back into the swing of things like the Divas’ Pillow Talk Printables or if you need some help with being intimate again, I would suggest our Sexy Survey. Either way, you will get back to where you once were, it may just take time! Enjoy dating again and being around each other again. All those mushy, lovey feeling will come back rushing in!

Advice from Others

“Be aware that you will both grow and change. It’s a significant amount of time, and it’ll take consistent communication and effort to remain connected. Once your soldier is back, I always say, ‘however long they were gone, it’ll take that long to get back to a new normal.’ So be patient!” – Belle

“When my husband returns home from deployment, it’s like you’re starting all over getting to know who they are. Adjusting is the hard part, especially when you have a new little one he’s never met. Your time is focused on them more because that’s what you are used to. After a while, you get in the swing of things and it’s like they never left.” – Samantha Hamilton

Deployment is Over

Photo credit: Wonder Wood Photography

Well, we’ve gushed through it all from the emotional journey of deployments to the important documents you need. With all of this advice, you should be able to survive your deployment with your sweetie. Just remember to take it day by day, make time for you {and your little ones}, and before you know it, you will be back in the arms of the one who carried your heart across the world!

If you LOVED reading this post, then you definitely need to check out our other long distance posts like the Best Military Spouse Advice or Surviving A Long Distance Relationship.

And if you’re dealing with deployment, TDY, or TDA- you should totally check out our Long Distance Love Kit! 

Long Distance Love Kit

It’s packed full! Including: a long distance relationship care package, long distance date in a box, a countdown tracker, long distance prescription gift, AND some long distance romance tips! CHECK IT OUT!

About the Author: Heather

I'm an outgoing, adventurous and southern girl. I absolutely adore my husband mostly because he is AWESOME but he is also pretty selfless too. Together we LOVE going on adventures and trying new things! I'm the girl who loves Braves baseball games, The Tonight Dough Ice Cream and I may or may not have an addiction to Sephora.

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5 Responses to Dealing With Deployment

  1. These pictures tell such a sweet story! Favorite line: “Your spouse will be so happy to see you, even if you’re wearing a potato sack!” haha. Awesome post!

  2. HEATHER this POST is nothing but AMAZING! I can tell you put your heart and soul into this post! I can only imagine how much help and hope this post will be for so many others! You are awesome!

  3. I love this so much! We are on our first deployment. And it is most definitely rough! Did anyone deal with arguments during? Because of the distance at first?

    1. Leah, oh hugs to you on your first deployment. We did not but I can definitely ask around, I think that would be fairly common given the circumstances. It is such a high stress time! XO