Having been deployed for a year during Operation Iraqi Freedom, I thought it would be helpful to illustrate how my family made it through the ordeal. Without question, it is extremely difficult to leave and be away from loved ones for an extended deployment.
Moreover, it is especially concerning when the deployment is to a war zone. There is family anxiety and fear for the soldier’s well-being. The soldier, on the other hand, is concerned because he or she can’t be there for young family members. There are almost always problems managing finances. Moreover, family matters are always more difficult with only one parent at home. Consider four ways to make a deployment easier.
1. Reach out to others and forget yourself. While on deployment in the Middle East I was stationed in Kuwait. The dust, heat, and living conditions were extremely uncomfortable. One night, the idea came to me that being self-centered and believing I was a victim was not working. I started volunteering to help others. One of my best efforts was interviewing people in the food line. I met the most interesting people—and all seemed to be sacrificing more than I was. My journal is filled with their stories. My life changed when I was not the center of it.
2. At home, stay close to family support groups. Going it alone at home is a bad idea. Deployed units always have a family support group that has the goal of providing assistance and personal contact with others in the same situation as you. My wife can testify that these people were a wonderful relief to her and the family. Church and community groups want to give assistance! Give them a chance. Of course, if personal family is close by, make stay in regular contact.
3. Make communication with home routine. This may seem simple, but it is so effective. Email each day so the family can know what you are doing. Also, try to call home daily. If that is not possible, select a specific day and time to call. The family will be so happy to know that a call can be expected and everyone will get a chance to talk. On certain occasions, this won’t work. If a regular day and time is not possible, let the family know each time you talk when the next time will be.
4. Soldier, sailors, and airmen — DO YOUR JOB WELL! This may seem oversimplified. Take note: the time will pass faster and you will be happier when you know you have done your job responsibly and effectively. Your fellow soldiers will see your dedication and follow your example, which will make everyone effective and safer.