Dear Younger Spouses,
Has the news of the embassy attack and the sudden death of a terrorist leader worried you? Has the rapid deployments that happened this week make you stop and sit down for a moment? Have you found your heart beating faster and skipping at beat?
We get it. We’ve been there before. You are not alone in this.
Before this threat of Iran, we had the threats of Afghanistan and Iraq. We lost hours of sleep, worried through long nights, and tried to emotionally prepare ourselves for what was coming next; deployment.
We asked ourselves the same questions that you are asking now. "Are we going to war?" We wondered if sudden training was "just because" or for a more frightening reason? We worried if planned deployments going to get moved up.
Most importantly, we asked ourselves. "What do I do?"
We know that so many questions are whirling through your mind. It probably feels like a mental tornado. And while our country might have been two years into Iraq by the time we became military spouses, we experienced the back to back deployments, the extensions, the surge, and much more.
Here’s our advice to you:
Don’t fret yet. If your spouse isn’t already training for a deployment they will not deploy immediately. If they are scheduled for a deployment it may move up, and if they have been training, they may go soon. But, without an official word from your leadership, you don’t need to fret. Take a deep breath.
Build your support. You will need it. It doesn’t have to a deep and wide circle, but you’ll need a person or community to lean on. Join a local church, attend spouse functions, and really commit to putting yourself out there.There will be those times that life just sucks during the deployment, and you need to vent, or just someone to talk to. Before the time comes, find your people. Say yes to the coffee invite and make a friend. You’re going to need it. Don’t dare try to walk this journey alone.
Have your affairs In order. It’s something no one wants to think about but, in this line of work, it’s necessary. If you get that knock on the door, you do not want to have to worry about things then. Prepare beforehand, just in case. Get a deployment checklist. Get a POA (Power of Attorney), the passwords to all the accounts, and all of your monthly billing information. Make a list of important phone numbers- unit contacts, installation numbers (like the clinic or family readiness groups), and emergency contacts. It also wouldn't hurt to have a conversation about your current life insurance policies.
As a side note, remember this. No news is good news. Communication black outs happen during a deployment. There could be any number of things that cause this to happen. Don’t assume the worst. The media will make you go crazy when you hear of something happening. But keep in mind that, if something really happened, you would know.
Don’t watch the news, at least not constantly. Stories will be spun in a million different ways. Don’t let them get you down. Take everything you see and hear with a grain of salt.
Get out of the house. Don’t stay cooped up in your house all day. Get out and do something. Take a walk, grab coffee, enjoy a new hobby, or browse the aisles of Target. Just don’t stay cooped up all day.
Be mindful of communication. Getting to talk to your spouse may come in short bursts. They want you to know they are ok, that they love and if your sweet babe has started talking yet. They probably don’t want to hear all the family drama unless they ask to let you know. If not, keep a journal. It’ll be stress relieving for you and something for them to read when they come home. They’ve been trained to do something and need their head in the game and not worrying about what is going on at home.
OPSEC & PERSEC. I know it’s tempting to post the sweet good bye pic, your worries or concerns, a pic they sent you from down range, and your excitement on the heels of a homecoming. But keep in mind, there is a need for operational and personal security. Don’t share any locations, times, units or movements. Don’t let others know you’re home alone with kids. Protect your loved one and your family.
It’s about to a whirlwind of chaos and excitement, with a roller coaster of emotions. It’s going to be hard. Yes, at times it’s even going to suck, but we know that you got this. You also have us. Don't be afraid to reach out to a seasoned spouse. We have been here before and we want to walk you through.
We’ve been in your shoes before. We remember what it’s like. Know that we are always here for you. Reach out for us, let us help you.
Experienced Spouses Who Have Been There
Megan Harless is an Army Veteran and active duty spouse of 13 years. She spends her time advocating for PCS Reform, volunteering in her community, and raising her three children. In her down time she enjoys watching movies, traveling, and searching for the worlds best chocolate!
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