When I faced deployment the first time I felt like a deer caught in the headlights. I was paralyzed. It was an internal paralysis. I think I looked put together on the outside, but I was falling apart daily on the inside.
I am a proud woman. I do not like to share my weaknesses and my pain with others. My stoicism is both a benefit and a liability to me. It’s a benefit because I am very careful with whom I share my vulnerability. It is a liability because sometimes I need to let my family and friends know that I am not faring well. They need to know I need encouragement and that I may not be able to reciprocate that support for a little while.
Here are a few things I wish I would have had the courage to say during my son’s first deployment. I hope this helps another parent or spouse articulate their deep feelings so others can understand what they are going through. Change the words to match your own situation, and let others in your life know what you are going through and what you need. You might just be surprised at the amount of support you do have.
The thought of reintegration is a sweet one. Knowing your military member is back from a war zone can do wonders for easing a parent’s mind.
Perhaps you’re exhaling for what feels like the first time in months. Even though reintegration is a wonderful and much anticipated time for military families, there are a few things that every Blue Star parent should bear in mind.
You may have noticed a new writer has joined the team. Claire Shackelford has been blogging about military family issues for years, contributing to sites like YouServed, Wives in Bloom and Christian Military Wives, not to mention her own blog, Colloquial Soliloquy.
Having been a military daughter, mother and spouse at different times, Claire is a bit of a rarity in the military community. Pulling from her many experiences, Claire now writes mainly from a military parent’s perspective.
When I meet other Blue Star parents who are facing deployment for the first time, often one of the first questions I get is “how much communication do you get during deployment?” and “How can I stay connected when he (or she) is so far away?”
These are tough questions to answer. Some of it depends on the branch of the military your son or daughter is in, and what his or her occupation in that branch is, and how you and your son or daughter’s communication is now. Another very important variable is where he or she will be deploying! See More
When your son or daughter is deployed you may feel a complicated mix of feelings. These feelings can include: grief, loss and mourning. The feelings are no quite like grief that you feel when someone we love has passed away, but it is an intense mourning or angst. This can sometimes leave a parent feeling perplexed. As parents, we don’t expect to grieve this way when our son or daughter goes to war. We were never given a handbook with this child and we were never given a mental briefing by the military.
In the past few years the type of grief that military families face when they have a loved one deployed to a war zone have been studied and deemed “anticipatory grief”. Know that you are not alone in your feelings and that there are some ways to manage these feelings so that you can cope.
Upon enlistment, your son or daughter will be taken to United States Military Entrance Processing Command by the recruiter. It’s at “MEPS,” as it’s often called, that recruits go through a standard series of processing steps before moving to basic combat training or BCT.
Here are some things to expect: