Tag Archives: deployments

Military Spouses Should Never Reveal These Three Details of Deployments

Many of you have heard the saying “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” It’s an old saying from World War II reminding the military and their families to watch what they say because you never know who is listening.

Today we have Operational Security or OPSEC. Here is an article from the blog, Sandboxx, which lays out why OPSEC is so important. OPSEC exists to protect family members and military members, so both groups need to know what can be said where to whom.

I sometimes thought it was silly to have to be protective of information about deployments, exercises, and the military member’s daily work. As I showed you in my post last week, if four spouses can piece together what was happening by comparing the snippets of information each had, think how easy it would be for a trained spy.

I also scoffed at the idea of a spy caring about what I had to say or that spies were even among us. Seriously, who would want to spy on Warner Robins Air Force Base, with its maintenance depot? Could be a lot of people. And it could be anybody. Recently, a Congressman from California was criticized for having a woman suspected of being a spy for the Communist China Party work as a major fundraiser for his campaigns years ago.

At one of our bases, we a contingent of officers and students from the Middle East. They were receiving training our soldiers were getting on base operations, flight operations, and meteorology. These courses may seem innocuous but think about it. How the U.S. military runs its bases could be valuable information to our enemies.

Today, this information can be passed along by overhearing conversations, whether at the commissary, church or over cellphones and in social media. While the article I referred to on Sandboxx above talks about the why of OPSEC, I want to lay out three things that should not be talked about in a public setting, or over the phone, or on the Internet.

  • Never talk about where your spouse is deployed. It’s okay in most cases to mention he or she is deployed, especially in military settings, but never give out the location. The Good Chaplain still talks about his location in Bahrain as a classified site, even though it closed years ago. You probably shouldn’t mention aloud that your husband is deployed when you are off base as well. One friend, who lived on base, worked as a news anchor on one of the local television stations. Although she never mentioned his name or talked on-air of his absence, she wore a pin signifying a deployed spouse on her lapel on the air. That was a grey area in OPSEC protocol.
  • Never give an indication of how long your spouse is gone. In the Air Force, since 9/11, deployments are generally six months, but not always. Tech Sergeant is deployed right now, and although we know how long he should be gone, we don’t know when he will be home. Even once you get a for a sure date (there is no such thing as a date written in stone), do not post that your sweetie will be home at such-and-such a time or date. That’s easier to keep quiet in the Air Force since our troops usually deploy in ones or twos, but the Army and Navy deploy mostly as units, so there is usually some fanfare when they come home. And third,
  • Never let it be known that you are home alone. Of course, people on base will know, but if the knowledge is public off base, you could be an easy target for the criminal element in your town.

I don’t give these warnings to scare you, but they are something to keep in mind before you open your mouth to talk about how lonely and miserable you are. As I’ve said before, do share that with other military spouses who understand and whom you can trust.

It is okay to talk about deployments without giving away specific details of where, when, how long, and your personal information like your phone number, e-mail address, and physical address. It’s for everyone’s safety.

For more information on OPSEC, visit storyhttps://militarybenefits.info/opsec/ or check out Military One Source, the one-stop-shop for everything military.

Next week we will dive into Social Media protocol.

Until then,

Vicki

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The Challenges of Raising Military Kids

Raising a family in the military can be a two-edged sword. Yes, your children are still children, but they are also part of a community where they may have to grow up a little faster.

More is expected of military children than most children in the civilian world. Generally, there are always exceptions to the rule; military children are better behaved and more polite than most children. They learn early on how to listen to their elders and interact with all sorts of people.

Changing schools — often

Photo by Arthur Krijgsman on Pexels.com

The girls’ school at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, was run by the Department of Defense. Only one other Air Force Base elementary school in the Continental U.S. was a DOD school. Teaching at such a school was a prime job, and many of the teachers stayed their whole careers at these schools. I think the pay was higher, but parents also played a role in their child’s education.

Many bases we lived at had elementary schools, but they were run by the local school district. Even then, teachers sought out jobs on base. One teacher told me she loved teaching military children because they were nicer than kids in the other district schools.

Moving around the world

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Other aspects of growing up military are not so positive. Our children moved eight times with us, so they went to several different schools. Our girls went to three different elementary schools on the same base.

Moving can be stressful for children who have to leave their friends and possibly extended family. Children are resilient and tend to make new friends faster than their parents, but it is still hard. As a parent, you can help your child through this transition by listening to what they say and don’t say. Pay attention to cues they might not be adjusting. Be encouraging but not pushy. If your child doesn’t want to play soccer, don’t force them. Offer several activities they may enjoy and let them choose.

A good way to transition to a new location is to read up on the location. Find out what the base and the local town, or even state, have to offer. Let each child pick something they want to do to explore their new surroundings. Help them get excited about trying new things that are particular to that area. And be excited about the area yourself. We looked forward to moves because of the adventures each held for us.

Those deployment blues

Deployments are also tricky. Children miss their deployed parent and they react in different ways. Some act out at home and in public, others withdraw and don’t express their sadness. Setting a routine quickly is crucial.

Whenever the Good Chaplain deployed, we had a chick-flick night, where we would put on our pajamas, watch movies, and sleep in the living room on the first Friday he was gone.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Planning special outings, like a drive-in movie or a trip to the swimming pool, help give the kids something to look forward to. Also, having a system to count down the days until the parent comes home is helpful. One friend put Hershey Kisses in a jar to represent the number of days of the deployment. Her son got one Kiss a day, and when the jar was empty, that was the day Daddy would come home. When the return date got pushed back, she simply added more kisses to the jar. I think that only works on younger kids.

Positives of being a military kid

But on a positive note, nuclear military families seem closer to each other in part because of all the moves. We turned moves into vacations and stopped in interesting places. Plus, being twins, our girls always had each other to lean on whenever they experienced something new. But it does seem generally military children are closer to their siblings and their parents.

Military children also get to live in places other kids can only dream about. They meet people from all over the world, and their friends are of all races, colors, and ethnicities. And no one bats an eye.

Kids get to do new things like dogsledding in Alaska, snorkeling in Hawaii, or traveling through three countries to get to school every day, as Tech Sergeant had to do when his family lived in Belgium. Some people never leave their home state.

Mrs. Tech Sergeant dogsledding in Fairbanks, AK

Raising kids in the military opens up more opportunities to shine. It builds confidence. It builds character. It shows the children how adaptable and strong they are in new situations. If they decide to live a different lifestyle in adulthood than a military one, they can. Illinois Girl chose to plant roots. Mrs. Tech Sergeant chose to marry the military and continue to live this particular adventure.

Next up I will be talking about careers for the military spouse.

Until then,

Vicki

What things have worked for you in raising your military kids? Reply in the comments below.

Deployments: The Bane of Military Spouses

Deployments are hard. I’m not going to sugar-coat it for you. Suddenly, no matter how long you have prepared for it, you are both Mom and Dad, husband, and wife. His chores become your chores, not as a replacement, but as an add-on to things you already do. If you work outside the home, you are now working two full-time jobs, often with no relief in sight. Deployments made me appreciate how much the Good Chaplain did around the house and for our family.

And, remember, once your spouse leaves, everything that can go wrong, will. Often in the first few weeks. Mrs. Staff Sergeant is experiencing that right now. Staff Sergeant deployed a few weeks ago. But because of COVID-19, he is secluded in the states for two weeks. Of course, the deployment doesn’t start until boots hit the ground in-country. Also, he might be quarantined for another two weeks once he arrives at the deployed site. He could quickly be gone an extra month or two. Uffdah!

In the few weeks, since Staff Sergeant left, one cat is pregnant. The other cat got bit by something and got an infected paw. Mrs. Staff Sergeant came down with COVID-19 symptoms and is confined at home with Tony B. and Gaby Baby. She tested negative twice, so we don’t know what’s going on with her. And, oh, by the way, a tropical storm hit her area — tornado warnings included. I don’t think she is having fun yet.

She also hasn’t been able to establish a routine, which is essential to survive the long months of single parenthood. When the girls were younger, to take their minds off Daddy leaving, Mrs. Staff Sergeant, Illinois Girl, and I had a “chick flick” night the first Friday into the deployment. We would put on our pajamas and curl up for a good movie and sleepover in the living room. Since they were young, the film was probably something Disney, not quite a chick flick. But it gave them something to look forward to when Dad left. Most of the time, we quickly set up a routine and carried on with our lives. Side note: the Good Chaplain was gone so much during the first three years, the girls called him “the guest.”

We’ve gone through eight deployments and numerous temporary duty assignments in our 31 years of service. My worst was at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, when he left right after Thanksgiving for four months. We’d never parted during the holidays before. We were thousands of miles from home, and it was dark and cold. If I didn’t have the girls to take care of, I don’t think I would have gotten out of bed for four months. I was a basket case, and this wasn’t even our first deployment. I don’t know what was wrong with me.

The bright side of that deployment was we got to talk on the phone every day for 15 minutes. That was new. In the past, we could talk for a spotty 15 minutes once a week. I split the 15 minutes with the girls most days. But Friday nights were date night when I got to talk to him the whole time. Even the operator commented on it being date night.

My favorite deployment was our most prolonged separation. That sounds bad, doesn’t it? The Good Chaplain deployed to Eastern Africa for seven months. Not only was the mission exciting, but he got to see all sorts of great things. This deployment was the first time I was alone. Both girls married the year before and lived in other places.

What made that deployment so good is I was free to do what I wanted when I wanted. I had only myself to look after. I thought I might be lonely, but I maintained my volunteering and social activities, so I was plenty busy. But when I decided to visit Illinois Girl, I could. I drove the 13 hours a couple of times. When my mother got sick while I was in Illinois, I drove the three hours to her house and stayed for a week. I had nothing else pressing to do at home. If I wanted to go to the movies, I could go and see what I wanted to see without taking someone else’s schedule or opinion into mind.

Sure I missed the Good Chaplain, but by then, Skype existed, and he had a single room, so we talked frequently and emailed all the time. One Saturday, when he was particularly bored, he Skyped me three times. I finally told him I loved him, but I had other things I needed to do than spend the whole day in front of the computer talking to him.

So, while deployments are hard and take an adjustment, they are manageable if you keep yourself busy and make some fun memories with the kids.

Until next time,

Vicki