I remember the first time my husband (then boyfriend) told me he’d be deploying. We were long distance relationship at the time and I was at work. He told me he got orders and I remember whispering on my cell phone, asking questions that I knew I wasn’t prepared to hear the answers to. It was one of those conversations where there was a lump in my throat the entire time, but I tried to play it cool; I didn’t want him to know how unbelievably sad I was. Instead, I wanted him to think I was the strong, supportive girlfriend who could totally handle even more distance between us. That was a big mistake.
Honestly, that first deployment was horrible. I cried myself to sleep more often than not and longed to hear from him longer than the allotted 15 minute phone calls he had (WiFi wasn’t available at his location during that deployment). He was only way for three months, but I swear it felt like much, much longer. (Oh, if only I could go back in time and give myself a hug!)
The problem with that first deployment is that I was jumping head first into a very deep abyss. I had no idea what to expect and I didn’t have a support system in place. I was just a girlfriend. Not yet a fiance or a wife; I didn’t have a spouses group or other military wives/girlfriends to talk to. I just had that one phone call each week. (Don’t even get me started on the time when I missed his call because my phone was on vibrate and I couldn’t find it in time…) I had friends and family who were all concerned and, but where I was
still getting my feet went into the whole military thing, they were
barely dipping their toes into the water.
What I really wish I had—what I needed—was a guide to help me through that deployment.
My (real life) friend, Kathryn (author of Singing Through the Rain), wrote a book all about deployments, and I hope every new (and not so new) military spouse reads it. Actually, Journey Through Deployment: Stepping Forward with Confidence During Military Separations, isn’t just useful if this is your first deployment. We just wrapped up our fifth deployment last year and I still gained a lot of insight from her book.
Kathryn starts the book by explaining the pre-deployment process, including all of the fears and worries we have as the significant other. This is the part we don’t like to talk about, and the section I really needed to read before that first separation. Talking about worst case scenarios are always so hush-hush, but she brings it up, tackles it head on, and offers suggestions on how to overcome those fears.
The journey continues when she brings up the actual deployment and what happens back at home while our loved ones are away. If you have children, she even has ideas on how to help them cope and ways to tell your civilian friends about deployments. One of my favorite parts is when Kathryn suggests creating a folder with basically every piece of information you may need while your husband is away and keep it in multiple places just in case you may need it sometime. I have pieces of info scattered around our house, but I really need to get something more cohesive together and put them in more than one place.
Reading the book brought back so many memories from our past deployments, but I especially liked the homecoming section. There’s truly nothing like a homecoming, and she takes you through the stages of reintegration—another gem that would’ve been useful for that first time.
It doesn’t matter if this is your tenth deployment, or if you’re about to embark on your first deployment—whether it’s two months long or more than a year—I highly recommend you check this book out. It’s full of encouragement, helpful guidance, and thoughtful insight. Journey Through Deployment is racking up five stars on Amazon, but I’m throwing in my two cents and giving it an additional two thumbs up.
*I was given a copy of the book to review, but all opinions are completely my own.