5 Things I Learned From Deployment

1157459_10202024642606188_419460050_nIt’s OVER… official OVER (well, until the next one)! Now that we can finally move forward and begin to get back to normal (if there is such a thing) I find myself reflecting on the last several months.  How did I fair? Did I fall short of my goals? Did I forget to prepare for some things? Were the kids happy? All questions that run through my mind and even as we conclude deployment number 5 I find things I’m still learning about and here they are.

1.  If you have an online bank make sure they have a digital POA.  Yep! You guessed it this seasoned spouse didn’t even know you needed one of those or that they even existed.  Found out three days into the cruise when I locked us out of our online account. Yay me!  If you find yourself in my shoes you can fax the bank your paper copy or scan it and email it to them.

2.  Babysitters and house cleaners are a must!  There are some things just worth spending money on and in my opinion they are it! When my hired babysitter bailed on me the first week and then the second one bailed too I gave up.  Don’t do that! It turned into a very long summer.  Also, taking care of the house, meals, kids, jobs, volunteering, etc.  gets overwhelming.  Hire someone to clean your house at least every other month.  You’ll thank yourself, because a clean house at the end of a long day is a beautiful thing especially if you didn’t do it.

3.  Trust your support network when they say “If you ever need anything.”!!!! These people mean what they say or they wouldn’t have said it.  I’m so guilty of trying to remain strong but that only breaks a person down.  If you need help ask for it.  I’m so very thankful each day for all the help I had and they all came through exactly when I needed them and gave me grief because I didn’t ask sooner (as they should have).

4.  Homecoming is chaotic.  Even the most welled planned thought out homecoming can turn unexpected.  Like all things in the military have your plan A, B and C.  In the rush to catch the ship (that came in 45 mins early) I didn’t bring our water and sunscreen onto the pier.  Four hours later I was totally regretting that I didn’t take a deep breath and think through what I had planned.

5.  Prepare for reintegration.  I know, I know… it is common theme and we all know about the adjustment period.  But, I really believe refreshing what to expect is always a good idea.  Talk to your spouse before they come home about what has been going on at home.  New routine, discipline, expectations about….ummm.. you know, etc.  The worst thing I did was NOT tell my husband about our daily routine.  Poor guy was so excited to be done with training early one night and when he came home the house was dark and quiet.  He called and I was like, “Umm, swim and soccer?”  I expected him to just know and that’s wasn’t fair.  They don’t just know so tell them.

Each and every deployment is different for a variant of reasons; easy or hard they just are what they are. I can say that my biggest take away is that you absolutely need to have a great support network around you, know you limits,  communicate before, during and after with your spouse and give yourself credit.  As military spouses we are so hard on ourselves.  Creating high expectations for ourselves and when we fall short we are our own worst critic; try not to be.  Look at the big picture from time to time.  I know you’ll be surprised when you see how great you are actually doing and have done!

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6 Responses to 5 Things I Learned From Deployment

  1. Do you have any other tips for reintegration? My husband “should” be returning home in the near future after his first real, long deployment and I’m just trying to figure out how this is all going to work. You know, the fitting back in and stuff. Any other tips? Like how long would you give them to adjust, etc. Or how did you fare thru the reintegration time, what were some easy/hard things for you as a spouse?

    • Hi Gwen, We are still working through it but the best tip I have is to be patient with each other. Remember that he has been taking care of himself and those under him so fitting back into your family will be tough at first. Let him watch from the sidelines a bit and make sure you tell him when you need help. Also, depending on the service (my husband is Navy) and length of deployment you could be eligible for programs like Yellow Ribbon retreats. This is a couple days where you spend time learning about the programs you are eligible for, you get a little counseling about reintegration, etc. If you need some counseling to work on communication and such you can go to your local family support center or call Military OneSource and they will refer to a local therapist approved by TriCare. Reintegration length is personal to each family and doesn’t really have a timeline. It can take months and maybe just days. Make sure you are talking! Which can be tough because it is not something you have done normally for a long time. Talk about your expectations of each other on all fronts. IF you are struggling take it to another person for help. I know it’s a lot hope it helps a little. Oh, and enjoy the honeymoon of the homecoming!

      • Thank you. Any little bit helps. 🙂 I already see a therapist for depression issues from this deployment. He’s on subs so there is little communication when he’s at sea. But what emails we’ve exchanged we’ve agreed on patience on both sides and probably counseling bc the last time he came home (a short patrol) was a bit rough for both of us. I think my worry is that we’ve both changed so much over the past few months that it’ll be weird. Especially since he hasn’t lived in this house more than 4 wks total since we’ve moved here.

      • It might weird at first but in time you will find your way back. And you have changed! But, I promise you it is the good kind. The kind that makes you stronger and he’ll respect that. Keep talking and sharing. Oh, and read the Five Love Languages Military Edition. GOOD STUFF!

  2. Margaret says:

    Love this post. I need to take your advice on getting a good sitter & having my house cleaned. I joke, but it’s kind of true that I’d be fine with the military doing away with all their deployment support programs & just providing me with a housekeeper every week. haha.

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