As I said in Part 1, I moved home to live with my parents during our first deployment. If you have thoughts about moving in with your family or even a friend, be forewarned…any drama they have in their lives WILL spill over in to yours. Do you need even more stress? Do you get along with this person even when you are in bad moods? These are valid questions to ask yourself. Don’t let people talk you in to doing something you are unsure of. A year is a long time to be stuck somewhere. The second deployment, I stayed put, although this is when my dad moved in with me, which, as you will read, was a darn good thing. I had help when I needed it, but he stayed out of the way when I didn’t. Plus, it was my house and my terms, which helped the control-freak that I am.
Communication: Make sure you and your spouse are prepared for the fact that you might be able to talk daily, or not for weeks at a time. It can make you a little crazy when you don’t know if he is okay, but you need to stay calm and remember that no news is good news. I guarantee you that he is more upset at not being able to reach you. He’s in the desert..not out bar-hopping. Chances are, he will have the opportunity to get in far less trouble than you would….not that you would. But you have to remember he will hear all kinds of stories about what is happening back home, as will you, and this may cause some tension. Cell phones are a bad idea and very dangerous. Use this as a time to get to know each other again. You are going to be doing a lot of talking, so you might discover some things you didn’t know. We paid about $60 a month for Andy to have internet in his “room” and we talked on Yahoo IM webcam every night about 10pm. Another source is Skype. This was a nice option because then we could see each other. As it can make you crazy to NOT talk to each other, it can have the same effect if you talk TOO much. You run out of things to say about your day when you have already told him the day before. And it makes time go entirely too slow. Every three days is a good rule of thumb, if he is available. Don’t ever discuss locations, etc…over the internet or the phone. Always assume that someone is listening in, and that someone might be a threat.
Speaking of threats…don’t advertise the fact you are home alone by putting a Service Star Flag on your house. A yellow ribbon is general enough to blend in, yet not announcing to be robbed or attacked. Likewise, don’t put the “Half my heart is in Iraq” bumper-stickers on your car for the same reason. We can support our soldiers in all the other things we do, but the most important thing you can do for your husband is be safe.
Have a talk with your husband about how to handle any bad news with the family or other friends while he is deployed. Does he want to know while he is gone, or wait until he comes home? We were tested with this several time. During the first deployment, I was in 4 car accidents and Taylor was hospitalized. During the second deployment, our dog killed our cat and I had to have the dog put to sleep. This was a horrific day, and had my dad not been there to shield me from seeing it, then the kids and I would have walked in to that scene after work/school. We also got news that Andy’s stepfather was terminally ill and might not make it until he redeployed home. Make sure you have the information for the Red Cross, because chances are that you might very well have to get a message to him.
The last thing, is that you want to stay as busy as possible during the deployment. Use this time to explore your interests. Is there somewhere you want to travel that he doesn’t? Go visit a girlfriend or family member. Take a class or lesson. You can also look forward to your mid-way point, which is R&R for two weeks. This will be a fun break. Ask your spouse what they want to do…don’t just plan a big party or trip. They may just want to sit on the sofa with you, and not do anything. You need to keep in mind, they may be a little jumpy. It’s not a good idea to drink too much during this break either. Have an enjoyable time with him, and when he leaves to go back, know that you are almost done!
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Thanks a bunch!