February 26, 2014 by comhomflt
More than a decade after Operation Iraqi Freedom and the ensuing campaigns of the Global War on Terrorism, the DOD seems to have finally worked out most of the kinks of the deployment process. I have heard stories that make me shudder of chaotic and hurried departures in the first years of the war, and I am thankful for lessons learned that have made deployment easier for our family today. Even over the years spanning our first set of orders and today, there have been obvious improvements. One of those was that my LT and I were finally required to attend a Deployment Readiness Training event. Maybe that all got lost in the shuffle with our past close encounters with deployment, but this time, the Navy was on the ball. Thankfully, there was a DRT event offered in a neighboring state, so we didn’t have to arrange for extended childcare or tote a nursing baby along for a flight and overnight in a hotel.
The official DRT offered a crash course in everything from finances and benefits to psychological and family support. Overall, it was time well spent, as we made contacts with a financial advisor, found out that we could have our taxes – which will be complicated next year – done for free, met a representative from our local National Guard and Reserve organization, and were introduced to Military OneSource. Ahhh, Military OneSource, I hope you are ready to live up to your promises, because I am sure I will need you this year!
The unofficial DRT happened by chance, slowly and unintentionally at first, and then developed into a plan with clear goals. Last month, I recognized it for what it was – my way of preparing for deployment – and that allowed me to see it as time well spent rather than time wasted. The pre-deployment phase is brutal, and having orders canceled twice within days of the departure date really messes with your mind. Neither my LT or I wanted an extra three months of waiting, but, in retrospect, it has been beneficial. As we stand on the brink of separation once again, with every expectation that he will actually be deployed this time, I look back with gratefulness on the things I have learned through my unofficial DRT.
Reading All About It
Back in November, the week before my LT was originally scheduled to leave, I picked up a stack of books on deployment from our quaint little library down the road. My plan, one well-tested by a decade of ATs and various business trips, was to numb the pain of loneliness at night by reading until the words began to swim on the pages and my eyes required toothpicks to prop them open. That stack of books was waiting, untouched, when the deployment was canceled, and it quickly became a wonderful resource for me.
Although I learned valuable things from each of the books, these two were standouts: While They’re at War: The True Story of American Families on the Homefront, by Kristin Henderson, and Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War, by David and Nancy French. Sharing the struggles of deployment through the pages of a book is much more helpful than being dryly instructed on its phases through impersonal pamphlets; and, while I hope to avoid living out of laundry baskets of unfolded clothes, I know that if that times comes, I’ll be joining a noble sisterhood of military wives on the homefront.
Spending Time ALONE Together
We underestimated the need for this in our “all-business” approach this past fall, and if it weren’t for the reprieve afforded by the cancellation, that realization would have come too late. This time around, however, we scheduled a couple of days for just the two of us to spend palling around together, and what a difference it has made as we approach the ready load date this time around!
Planning to Achieve Something
I love my children, and I thrive on routine; but without my LT around to help out and unwind with, I know it will quickly become all-consuming and stifling. Also, I know my LT will be earning additional “fruit salad” while he’s deployed, and we all know it won’t include any kind of “Spouse Achievement Medal.” Though I recognize that serving our country or merely serving another round of pb&j’s is the same in God’s eyes, there is a lot to be said for a goal set and achieved with something to show for it. So, while I may not earn any medals, I have set my sights on a 5K – my first – which I hope to run with BM1 at my side, sporting some Navy pride to make it fun. My LT and I have also set a bigger goal for the following summer – a trip to Hawaii! I nearly cried the night we realized, after a few quick calculations, that it was within our reach, thanks to some military perks. Seeing the USS Arizona memorial is something I have dreamed of since childhood, and the thought of fulfilling that dream alongside my LT will brighten the rough days ahead.
Thinking on THESE Things
Having been through the deployment workup several years before and weathering a couple of rough AT’s, I have seen the necessity of recognizing and depending on God’s grace. And the only way I will recognize His grace and depend on it is by constantly setting my mind on Him as I memorize verses, listen to messages, and pray throughout each day. These are the things I must think about; not the exhaustion or loneliness or the “hate” part of my love-hate relationship with the Navy Reserve. Disciplining my mind to think as God does is how I will prevent myself from drowning in discouragement and self-pity – and, hopefully, from living out of laundry baskets of unfolded clothes! It won’t be easy, and I’ll need exhortation frequently, I’m sure. But this I know: “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” – Psalm 94:19