I am still working on some pictures of our house, and some Mother’s Day and random pictures, but in the mean time, I thought y’all might enjoy reading a little handout I put together for this “Plane Panel” on base tonight. This is my first one, but I guess it’s an opportunity for students and spouses to get together with more experienced military spouses and ask questions about different planes and communities. Since none of these students will be going to our plane, unless they cross-commission into the army, who now owns all the MC-12s, I volunteered to give insight into the deployment experience and typed up the following handout of Do’s and Don’ts. Some of these tips could apply to non-military couple separations as well! 🙂
DEPLOYMENT DO’S AND DON’TS
- DO realize the power of positive thinking! If you think deployments will be endless misery, you’ll probably be right, but if you think it’ll be a manageable time where you’ll miss each other but enjoy some of the benefits, you’ll probably be right!
- DO know how to take care of your property, pets, and family before your spouse leaves! Murphy’s Law of Deployment is for real, so get a power of attorney and know how to operate your sprinkler system, where your important documents are, and how to fix things or call someone who can do it for you.
- DO send care packages, cards, letters, emails, etc. regularly, and encourage friends and family to do the same! They love getting mail down there and knowing people are thinking about them.
- DO stay connected as a couple during this separation! One thing I did during our first deployment was print off conversation starter/ice-breaker questions, fill out one copy, and send a blank copy to my husband to send back to me, so that was a fun way we learned things about each other!
- DO put all your extra free time to good use and stay busy! Deployments are a great time to reach a new fitness goal, study a foreign language, learn a new hobby, and get projects done around the house!
- DO make plans for what you’re going to do with all the extra money you’ll be making with separation pay, combat pay (if applicable), and saving by paying for half the amount of restaurant bills, gas, movie tickets, etc! Having a post-deployment vacation or improvements to your house gives you something to look forward to!
- DO enjoy the lightened household duties (cooking, laundry, cleaning)
- DO take advantage of this time to watch all the TV shows and movies that your spouse doesn’t really enjoy watching with you!
- DO go to oplove.org and look into having free pre-deployment or homecoming pictures taken by a professional! For pre-deployment, they send a little album of the session downrange!
- DO look into a Special Savings Plan (SSP)—it’s like a CD but with an unheard of interest rate! You can put money in 30 days after being in-country, and keep it in until 90 days after homecoming.
- DO check out all the perks offered by your base to deployed families—free meals, free childcare, and free oil changes are just some examples!
- DO take advantage of this time to go visit friends or family that you don’t have time to normally see.
- DON’T compare your deployments to others’ deployments in terms of length, frequency, or difficulty. There’s always going to be someone who has deployed more and had a harder time than you, and there’s always going to be someone who’s deployed less and had an easier time, and nobody can really control those aspects. Comparison is the thief of joy. (Teddy Roosevelt)
- DON’T spend all of your Facetime or Skype calls commiserating about how much you miss each other and how much deployments suck. This will only increase the negativity of the experience.
- DON’T freak out when you don’t hear from your spouse at an expected time: it is much more likely his flight got extended, he forgot or got mixed up on the times, or most likely—the internet is down—than something bad happened.
- DON’T count down to when you think homecoming should be. Deployments can get extended, or shortened, so I would recommend counting forward—i.e. how many weeks or months he’s been gone. You can count down once travel arrangements home are settled; it’s usually pretty safe at that point.
- DON’T worry: deployments can feel interminable when you’re in the midst of one, but after homecoming, you’ll probably say, “That went quickly!”