Plain and simple — deployments suck for both the service member and their families. They are emotionally draining. And for a military spouse going through her first separation, deployments can be downright scary.
Knowing what to expect ahead of time may not make the deployment experience any easier, but it can help minimize your worry. The tips below will give you a heads up on some important things to keep in mind.
The first few days can be rough
The first few days after your spouse leaves will be the worst. You have no clue what to expect and you don’t know when you will hear from him. Keep in mind that travel time takes a few days and phone service during travel can be limited. Even when service members arrive they are not necessarily placed where they will be during the duration of their tour overseas. It may be a few days before they reach their final destination which can include in processing and finding time to make it to a phone or computer. Just be patient, he will call you.
Expect communications blackouts
Blackouts are when communication via phone and internet are down or suspended. There are numerous reasons why blackouts happen and it does not always mean that something bad has happened. One simple reason could be a sandstorm, which tends to shut down communication.
Lean on the FRG
A lot of spouses tend to shy away from what is known as the FRG (Family Readiness Group) because they have heard negative stories. However, during a deployment the FRG is your lifeline to what’s happening “over there.” Be sure to attend at least some of the meetings so that you can learn about your chain of contacts in the event of an emergency and other information pertaining to your service member’s whereabouts. Additionally, the FRG is meant to be an outlet for support during deployments. They can keep you informed of programs and activities that are available for military families with a deployed loved one.
Look forward to R & R
Rest and Relaxation (R & R) is one of the best parts of deployment. This is when the service member gets to come home on leave for 15 days after a few months of being deployed. Just knowing that you will get to see your spouse is something to look forward to. However, keep in mind that R & R only applies if the service member’s deployment is longer than nine months.
The long-awaited homecoming
Homecoming is a very exciting time for everyone. This means your time apart from your loved one is coming to an end. It is important to know that homecoming times can change and to always expect the unexpected. Because of this, I suggest waiting until your loved one is already home before planning any kind of homecoming party. Refer to your FRG and your spouse to learn how to keep abreast of when he will arrive home and where to meet him.