My husband and I have had our fair share of deployments, extended TDYs and special duty assignments. And while it has gotten easier to deal with the added stress that comes from having to say goodbye, it is never truly easy.
Preparing is often difficult, because it means you have to come to terms with the fact that your loved one will be headed into harm’s way.
For me, there are 4 broad areas of preparation necessary before any deployment: financial, physical, emotional and mental.
How I Prepare for His Deployment
Even if you share bill-paying responsibilities, make a point to sit down and go over your finances. This includes all of your bills, investments, credit cards and bank accounts. Make sure you know how to access the accounts and have contact information for each of them.
Consider getting a limited power of attorney. It can be exceptionally frustrating to be unable to upgrade a cell phone plan or resolve a billing discrepancy because your spouse’s name is the only one on the account. Plus, should you lose your military dependent ID card or need to make any changes to DEERS, a power of attorney means you can take care of it.
While you are making preparations, make sure you go over both your and your spouse’s wills. It is touchy subject for some, but it is a necessary evil. If you don’t have a will, check with your local legal office for assistance.
In the same way that your spouse must make sure they are physically able to deploy, being left behind to manage everything on the homefront also requires you to be healthy and capable.
Before your service member leaves, schedule your annual doctor and dentist appointments. Make sure your prescriptions are filled and up-to-date.
Make taking care of yourself easier while you are dealing with the stress of a deployment.
Physical preparation also takes your surroundings into account. If your spouse always mows the lawn, for example, consider hiring a lawn service or learn how to use the equipment properly if you don’t know how to do it yourself. Again, the idea is to try to make it as easy as possible for you to juggle everything while your spouse is away.
Deployments are a great time to focus on your physical fitness. Exercise can prove to be a great distraction and physical activity has been proven to help improve mood and combat depression.
It’s important to prepare yourself emotionally for the time apart and the added strain of knowing your spouse is in harm’s way. Any emotional stress you’re feeling is often exacerbated by the fact that you don’t want to burden your spouse during phone calls and Skype sessions.
We can never fully prepare for how we are going to handle things emotionally. All we can do is try to put some plans in place to helps us cope when things get tough.
Try to get a good support system in place with a list of folks and phone numbers you can call if you need help. Sometimes just having a fellow military spouse to talk to can make all the difference in the world.
If you need to go home to family or have someone come and stay with you, then do it. There are no shiny medals given for being an emotional martyr, so don’t feel like you have to go it alone.
Try not to isolate yourself. Deployments rarely happen to just one service member in a unit at a time, so consider joining the FRG or family support group. The military has been on a cycle of deployment for the last two decades and there are many programs and resources out there. Make sure you reach out to the chaplain or family support services before your service member deploys so you know what’s available.
Hand in hand with dealing with the emotional impact, your mental health is vital to a successful deployment.
One of the best techniques I have found is to make plans to keep myself busy. Taking a class, learning a new skill, trying a new hobby, or even starting a business have all become a focus for my attention while my spouse was deployed.
Left to wander a lonely and bored mind will never been an ally.
Plan ways to keep yourself distracted during the deployment. It’s a great time to focus on yourself a little more than usual and work on any of those self-improvement/self-growth goals you’ve been thinking about.