Even after years of experience and multiple deployments under their belts, families are constantly learning new challenges to the military lifestyle.
One of the biggest obstacles to overcome is handling judgment and ignorance about military issues from those closest to us.
Many of the readers on our Military Spouse and Family Facebook pages have dealt with this judgment firsthand and inspired these tips for bridging the learning gap and trying to respectfully inform those closest to you about military-specific struggles.
Children are especially vulnerable to the stresses of deployment and teachers are often faced with the difficulty of handling children from military families.
School can provide the structure kids need when their home life is disrupted and teachers should take advantage of this opportunity to provide much needed stability.
Teachers can’t help if you do not keep them informed of your situation.
Make sure to make contact with your children’s teachers and keep them up to date on deployments, moves, or times when your children may be particularly sensitive.
Some general tips for teachers include being more flexible with assignments; remaining friendly and approachable for potential problems; being sensitive during related class discussions; and promoting expressive activities and assignments.
If you think your child is struggling with school or if you are a teacher looking for information on catering to military students, check out this helpful guide.
Because the military lifestyle requires a lot of moving, setting up a long-standing relationship with a doctor can be difficult. Each time you meet with a new family doctor, make them very aware of your mobile situation.
Let them know your medical records may be spread out across several practitioners and be sure to fill out your medical history very thoroughly. This is extra important if anyone in your family has any significant or ongoing medical problems.
Tricare does have a couple of features to make transferring medical records easier. Moving Made Easy allows military families to transfer their medical records to their new duty station prior to their move.
Many of the horror stories you hear from military spouses about disrespect on the home front comes from neighbors. Neighbors, along with anyone on this list, can be the source of negative comments about fidelity, your lifestyle or combat itself.
The best thing you can do is respond to the negative comments in a calm and honest way and know that no one can judge your situation better than yourself.
If someone is unaware of the military lifestyle you can try your best to inform them without becoming preachy and hope for the best, but in the end the way they think doesn’t have to affect your life. Distance yourself from the negative influences because they will only cause more stress in your life.
However, just because your neighbor is unaware of the military lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t turn to them in times of need. Sandy Gonzales-McClendon commented on the Military Spouse Facebook page that her neighbor “was there when I had nobody to help me with my son while I was in the hospital.”
Friendships can be difficult to maintain when you hold very different views about the military. If your friends are unaware of the difficulties that come with a military lifestyle, it is easy for them to make hurtful remarks without realizing it.
Statements meant to be reassuring such as “At least they have a stable job” can be taken as ignoring the sacrifice service members make for our nation. Friends are a group of people you wish automatically understood what you’re going through but in reality they won’t always know. The best course of action is to tell them how you’re feeling so they won’t have to guess.
Never be afraid to give your friends a chance to help you out though because understanding and supportive friends are priceless when dealing with a deployment. Military spouse April Mazza-Sides knows her best friend Angi is helpful no matter what: “We band together and she is about the best support system I could ask for!”
During deployment many say their family becomes the greatest source of stability. The strong bonds between family members are enhanced by the stress of deployment. Frances Ogden McGraw, a military spouse, said her greatest source of support is “family, family, family.”
Whether they are helping out taking care of the kids or just always there through the toughest of times, keeping your family close is the best advice anyone can give you for dealing with deployment.
Despite the potential problems military outsiders pose, make sure you give those who want to help the chance to do so because many of the strongest connections helping families through deployment come from outside the military.
Photo thanks to USArmyAfrica via Flickr Creative Commons