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.
They say “you are what you eat,” and there is some truth to that. We are also what we project in the lines of our attitude. Your attitude affects your actions, as well as your mental and physical health. It can feel like an uphill battle sometimes when you are facing deployments, PCSing and other difficulties of military life, but there are strategies you can use to keep that chin lifted high and to keep that attitude working for you instead of against you.
I have long held the belief and practice that keeping healthy during difficult times like deployment is the best way to manage stress. Exercise and fitness was one way I was able to manage stress while my son was deployed and my husband was away in training. That year, in particular, I learned the benefits of regular exercise and a focus on health and wellness. It gave me the upper hand in dealing with intense stress.
Below are a few pointers from what I learned during that time. These are life lessons that I carry with me to this day.
Spring has sprung, which means blooming flowers, baseball games, Easter holiday and warm-weather shenanigans. Take advantage of spring’s characteristics to send your service member a bit of fun in your next care package.
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.
It’s been four years since Feb. 29 has appeared on our calendars, but it’s back for 2012. Though not divisible by 400 and therefore not mathematically an official leap year, we can’t deny the extra day.
Rather than treat it like any other day, try to make your leap day special. Here are a few activities to play with:
For any family to adopt, it takes knowledge, patience and love. Unfortunately for military families, there can be a few more obstacles in adopting a child that makes these traits even more important.
Knowledge is crucial because there are many laws at the state and federal levels to keep in mind while going through the adoption process. Most of these laws are dependent on what state you live in and where the child will be coming from (here’s a list of state laws). For example, you may adopt within your own state lines or while stationed overseas.
No matter the circumstances of the adoption, there will be very specific laws that apply to your situation. See More
Leaving your child or dependent mother alone for the entire duration of your deployment is the most difficult part of military life for many military families. Completing a military family care plan guarantees that your loved ones are safe and looked after while you’re away and can ease some of these anxieties.
Who needs to have a family care plan?
Family care plans are for active duty service members and their families only. Single parents with children who are 18 and younger and dual military couples must fill out a plan.
Service members who have joint or full custody of at least one child whose biological or adoptive parent is not the service member’s spouse also have to complete a plan. When service members are responsible for dependent family members, they most likely need to have a family care plan. See More
When a loved one is deployed, waiting out the days until they return can be difficult for a host of reasons. I am an avid reader myself so I love to spend read to help pass the time but it is also a great emotional outlet.
When you feel like everyone is judging you or no one in your life can understand you, a book can help you understand and work through your emotions.
Here are five books (and reviews) recommended by those who’ve experienced the left-behind side of deployment.