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Ask an Army Spouse: Coping with Deployment & Separation

How Do You Cope with Deployment?

My husband is leaving for his first deployment what are some ways to help cope with the love of your life, your best friend being gone for a year or more?

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ask-army-spouse-deployment

Deployments are tough – there is no doubt about that. One of the best things you can do is surround yourself with supportive people. In my case, I found other spouses who were also enduring the deployment to be the best support for me. They truly understood and knew what to say (and perhaps, most importantly, what NOT to say). If you are not near your husband’s unit, consider finding a group online.

Many FRGs have sites through ArmyFRG.com now as well to keep in touch with family members. Your husband will need to ensure you have access to the site and the FRG leader has your contact information. The FRG will be your main source of reliable information.

Also, do your best to stay busy. Each time my husband was deployed, I overloaded my schedule. Not only did it keep me busy, it also gave me things to count down to which was less overwhelming than counting down the entire deployment. I planned trips, took classes, learned new hobbies, planned outings with the girls, went to visit family, etc (in addition to working). Here’s some additional deployment separation tips.

I also really enjoyed sending care packages to him. In addition to sending to him, he told me about others who were not receiving anything so I would either include things in his packages for them or send them a separate package.

I hope this helps! Good luck with the deployment.

Terrified for Soldier’s Safety During Deployment

How do you cope when you’re terrified of your husband getting injured/kill during a deployment?

I know this is a terrible thing to think about and I don’t even like talking about it-My husband isn’t deploying (yet) he’s finishing AIT. But I know one is coming up eventually. How can I cope with these thoughts? I know its a possibility and so does he, and that he’s more likely to come home just fine, but these bad things keep coming into my head! How can I reassure myself and feel better and trust and believe and have faith that he’ll come home safely?

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I think this is something that every Army family member has had to deal with. It is a difficult situation to deal with effectively and overcome. In all reality, you never really get over that fear until he is back home with you and you can see with your own eyes that he is safe.

The worry while they are gone is always there. It is just a matter of how you deal with it. One thing that helped me tremendously was talking to other Army spouses about how I was feeling.

For instance, as horrible as this sounds, I would catch myself planning out my husband’s funeral in my head. Who would the pallbearers be? Where would we hold the services? What songs would we play?

I finally spoke up and told a few of my friends about this little planning sessions in my head before every deployment expecting their mouths to drop open. But their responses were simply “I do that too”.

I think in a way it is dealing with what the worst could be (as much as you can) so that you at least think you are prepared for that event. I knew in my heart, there was no such preparation but just knowing that I had thought through what I would do made me feel like I had more control over the situation.

If you are religious, I would encourage you to pray and rely on your faith that what is meant to be will be and that His plan is always greater than we could ever imagine. Rely on your friends, develop that support system and talk about your feelings. The worst thing you can do is keep it all bottled up inside.

Facing First Deployment

I have just married my husband 3 weeks ago and he has just told me he is getting deployment orders. We have only been dating for 7mth before getting married and in that time he had to no standing orders. I don’t live on base and we don’t have any kids. I have not meet any of the other wives or girlfriends so I feel lost. I don’t know what to do??

Can you help??

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You can join the FRG even if you don’t live on post. Many have groups online where you can interact with other family members without physically being there for meetings and events. It will help greatly to be able to have the support of others who are going through the same thing.

Also reach out to just general support groups online. Join a club. Volunteer. Get a job. There are many things you can do to keep yourself busy and meet others at the same time.

Deployments can be very overwhelming and you’re likely to experience a roller coaster of emotions. A support system is vital during deployment.

Until then, spend as much time with him as possible!

Dealing with Separation for Training & Schools

How can I be supportive to my soldier who is at WOCS, and I am left behind crying and lonely to take care of our baby, without communication from him? He told me I wasn’t being strong in our short conversation we had. Is it normal for training to leave the families out of anything and in the dark? When the army has their 4 to 6 week training for the Warrant Officer Candidate School, there is no communication for several weeks. It is extremely hard on those families with children and wives left alone to run everything, including an out-of-pocket trip to support the soldier at a graduation or family day at the end.

The problem is that without any information about dates, times, and events, as well as the specific rules which needed to be followed, families from out of state are simply left in the dark and put into a spot that isn’t fair to anyone. Where is the information about where soldiers are and are not allowed to go during a pass? And where is the information about any and all family events that the families are welcome to go to… such as the victory run? Do they not want families there for anything?

Not having talking privileges is going to cause problems with the soldier at HOME, not teach him how to be a respectful officer. If they want to make good leaders out of these people, then the place they need to start is to allow them to be able to be a part of the biggest leading role they have, even if its for one minute per day. Children need their dads. And wives are left behind to do all the work… so the wives need these details since they are doing everything to try to support their soldier. I am freaking out and don’t want my soldier to get home and be disappointed that his wife couldn’t be strong for him- It’s so hard! I don’t know what to do some days without him.

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It is difficult but unfortunately it is part of being an Army family. Separations are inevitable and it’s quite possible you could have even less communication during a deployment scenario. You need to develop a support group outside of your soldier that you can lean on in the times that he is gone. It’s essential to surviving the Army lifestyle.

Encourage Your Soldier to Volunteer for Deployment

My husband and I have been married for 2 1/2 years.  He is a correction officer and is in the Army Reserves.  He recently got asked if he wants to work as a Civil Affairs officer and they are being deployed.  He does know when or where.  He is currently working as a mechanic in the army.  I think he would be good at this job (CA), and I think it would be a great experience for him. 
Of course, I’m scared for his safety.  I’m nervous to encourage him to take this opportunity, because I feel like if something were to happen to him, it would be my fault because I encouraged him.  What do you think? He said if we weren’t married, he would go, but since we are married, he has a family to think of.  I know though that even if he doesn’t take this job, he might still be deployed.  I’m scared and don’t know what to do.  Time is off the essence! Please help,
L K
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I know exactly how you feel. After my husband’s first deployment when he was first considered for a med board, we decided to fight against it. I was very torn over that decision because what if we fought for him to stay in and something happened to him on a later deployment? How would I deal with it knowing that I could have said “no, get out” and he would still be safe?
But the bottom line is that we have no guarantees. Preventing him from deploying does not guarantee his safety. It doesn’t mean he will never come in harm’s way. I have to be happy with the time that we are given together and take advantage of every available moment. I knew it was important for my husband to do his job for his country. The absolute last thing I wanted was for him to eventually resent me because I kept him from doing what he felt he was called to do.
Was it hard? Absolutely. But ultimately, I gave him my support and enjoyed every minute we had together. He deployed an additional three times before he was medically retired. I wish you luck on making the decision and hope this helps.

Having a Baby Before Deployment

My husband and I have been married for 3 years this month, he is being deployed in 2011. I need some feed back from army wives, we really want kids, I would love to plan a baby before he leaves. If we start now the baby will be a few months old when he leaves. I just think a baby will keep me going while he is gone and will be a good reason to get out of bed and to be happy, not dragging around and missing him, something to keep me motivated while he is deployed. My friends and family have all promised to help me in every way and support me the best they can. But on the down side, he will be missing the 1st year of everything, please help me with some advice. I know it will be hard on me and my hubby regardless, please give me opinions!

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First, I’m sure you didn’t mean it in this way but your question almost sounds like you are looking for the baby to be a deployment “fix” in keeping you busy. While you would definitely be busy, I would not have a baby if that is your reason. If it just sounds that way and that isn’t your intention, ignore this part. 😉

Having a newborn is a lot of hard work. While there are many upsides, there are also a lot of adjustments to be made. I have never been so sleep deprived in my life. I personally would rather go through the pregnancy alone than for him to miss the first year of the baby’s life (assuming I had control over that). If it was me, I would attempt to time it so that instead of having the baby just before he deploys, I would have the baby just before (or right after) his return. But that’s just me. Plenty of women have babies as single women (either truly single or “single” due to their soldier being away at training or deployed).

One other thing to consider…I edited the month out of your post for OPSEC reasons but it is really far into the future. I would be amazed if that date remained the same. He may not even deploy at all. Talk to other wives who have been through a similar situation and get their take on it.

Also, if you have experienced this, please comment and give her some advice on what you would do if you could do it again.

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • cami December 7, 2012, 10:39 pm

    This site is very helpful to me.I am new to everything,my fiance will be deployed in sep.How im coping with this is beyond me,the fact that the love of my life will be leaving kills me,but he is fighting for our safety and he loves what he does and i support him in everyway.I know i dont know what to expect,but im ready!I have parents that were in the service so i know somewhat of what to deal with.My question is will i be able to see him off since i am just his fiance.I was told only married military wifes are the only ones allowed to see theyr’e husbands off?

  • Evelyn Orr August 23, 2014, 5:46 am

    I’ve been trying to find out if I have to pay for my boyfriend to notify his unit that we are together, he is in Sudan. I find this some what suspicious, so could someone please let me know as I’ve tried everything to find out. God Bless You All.

  • Kaitlyn Silcox June 19, 2015, 2:00 am

    my boyfriend and I have been together for 5 months and we have been long distance the entire time. I have known since the day I met him he was aspiring to join the army and do deployment and (that he’s the person I want to spend the rest of my life with). The army has been a passion of his since he was a kid, to serve the country. I love him and I’d do anything and everything for him.

    One of my biggest dreams in life was being a mom, but due to deployments we’ve decided to really put that off and focus more on him coming home. I believe he is wanting to be in the 75th battalion, honestly at this point I’m not good at the names of the things he wants to do, I know it’s special forces and it takes quite a while to get where he wants to go in life. We know we want to get married after bootcamp which he will be attending after Christmas this year.

    Recently we’ve been though a rough patch. He’s terrified of leaving for deployment and dying.. Which is a valid reason to be terrified but he’s not terrified of dying. He’s terrified of leaving me alone. And I don’t know what to do to let him know I’ll be ok. I’ve told him and told him that if something were to happen to him I would make it but he doesn’t seem to believe me.

    It’s not the distance it’s the threat.

    He wanted to do the army until he physically could not do it anymore, before he met me…

    But because of me (his own decision) he’s decided he’s only going to do a few years of deployment (less than 6).

    Also, we are long distance but we have jobs that allow us to communicate all day long, we have not had one day in the time we’ve been together that we haven’t talked. We skype almost every night and we talk on the phone at stores or while driving and things like that.

    So my questions are

    1) how do I ease his mind about not coming home? How do I make him not fear his decisions?

    2) How do I cope with being absolutely alone all the time?

    3) how do I make him less stressed out about being deployed…

    4) how do I stop stressing over ruining his dreams?

    I love him, like I’ve never loved anyone and although the army is not something I wanted in my life, I know it’s what he’s always dreamed of and sometimes I feel like I’m standing in the way of his dreams.

    • Stacey Abler June 27, 2015, 9:26 am

      I think you will have to support him in going after his dreams – otherwise you’re just setting yourself up for future resentment. As for getting comfortable with deployments and the threats that exist – that’s no easy task. After you get through the first one, it becomes easier in the sense that you know what to expect, but it’s always hard. The biggest thing that helped me was knowing I had zero control over it. My worrying about it didn’t suddenly make him safer and he didn’t need that burden on him when he was overseas. I wanted his mind 100% focused on the mission at hand so I kept a lot of those concerns to myself (or within my group of friends). If you’re religious, then lean on that – my faith helped me the most.

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