Oh no! The dreaded deployment assignment just came through. That means your spouse is going to leave you for six months, a year, or maybe even longer. What do you do now?
Well, the first thing is to cry, then pick yourself up, and go to the mandatory pre-deployment briefing. You will learn some valuable tips at the briefing, like who you can call if you need something (hint: it’s not the wing commander) and what benefits you might get as a deployed spouse.
An invaluable phone number to have is the Family Resources Center on your base or post. They usually have lots of programming for families of deployed members. The last time the Good Chaplain deployed (way back in 2010), the Family Resources Center, called the Airmen and Family Readiness Center in the Air Force, sponsored such programs as:
- Hearts Apart: Activities to get families out of the house and meet families of other deployed members.
- Give Parents a Break: Run in conjunction with the Child Development Center is a night for the parent at home to do something without children in tow.
- Car Care Because We Care: This program used to provide free oil changes for spouses of deployed members
- Morale calls: I’m not sure if morale calls are necessary now. We were allowed one 15-minute call a week at the beginning of the Good Chaplain’s career. Now, I know Tech Sergeant called Mrs. Tech Sergeant on FaceTime a couple of times a day.
- Military OneSource: The site for everything military. When in doubt, check with this group.
Your wills and any powers-of-attorney are drawn up before your spouse leaves, as well. This task is probably on your spouse’s checklist, and I’m sure it is brought up at the pre-deployment briefing too.
The base lawyer’s office can draw up these documents for free. It would be best if you had at least a general power-of-attorney, but you might need special ones, too. Ask the lawyer. Once, when the Good Chaplain deployed, I received a check in his name from our insurance company. But I could not deposit it in our joint savings account, even with a power-of-attorney. I was stunned because I could buy a house or a car or any number of costly things with the document. But God forbid I try to deposit money with it.
Take the time before your spouse leaves to make memories as a family. Go on special outings, take a short trip if time allows, do something the kids want to do. Don’t be like me. Anytime the Good Chaplain prepared to deploy, I pulled away from him. I was trying to lessen the hurt of his actual leaving, but it had the opposite effect. Just when he wanted to spend more time with me, I wanted less time with him. I guess I thought if I withdrew before he left, I wouldn’t miss him so much. Not quite logical, but who said feelings and emotions are logical? I didn’t realize I was doing that until the Good Chaplain pointed it out to me. Spend as much time as you can together.
In that vein, many bases and/or chapels sponsor pre-deployment retreats for families and couples to help them create some memories. They are worth a try.
Next time I will discuss how to handle the actual deployment.
How do you act before your spouse leaves for deployment? Answer in the reply section below.