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Military:  Dealing With Deployment

On This Page:

Things to Consider Before the Deployment
Books and Booklets
Strategies and Things to Try
Military Homeschooling column from the July/August 2005 edition of Home Education Magazine

Things to Consider Before the Deployment

  • Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Power of Attorney
    When a servicemember is assigned to a short tour, a remote tour, or is deployed, it is useful for the at-home parent to have a power of attorney for handling special situations.  The types of powers of attorney are General and Special.  General powers of attorney is a broad legal document specifying a relationship between two people whereby one is empowered to legally act for the other.  A Special power of attorney is similar but limits the actions of the person holding it. 

    One limitation concerning powers of attorney is that persons with whom the at-home parent is dealing on behalf of the servicemember are not obligated to honor the document.  Because of this if a significant situation can be anticipated before the servicemember leaves, it would be wise to take care of it then.

    Another situation to take into considering during a separation is that of the illness or incapacitation of the at-home parent so that a third party must take care of the children.
  • Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, Simplified

Opsec  (Operational Security)

  • So your spouse is deployed and you want the world to know that, 1) you miss him/her, and 2) that you support the troops overseas.  These are honorable feelings, but they can lead to you being targeted by unscrupulous/malicious people

    By advertising your loss, you are also advertising your vulnerability.  It isn't that women (in general) are 'weaker' or that they are 'alone' if they are 'geographical bachelorettes.'  It is that there are jerks in the world and you're clueing them in.

    Ways to let people know that you are 'alone:'
    -- Yellow ribbons
    -- "Half my heart is in Iraq" bumper stickers
    -- Telling children at the post office, "We'll mail these to Daddy, in Iraq."

    Don't paint yourself as a target.  Practice good Opsec.
  • What will happen if my spouse is injured while deployed?
    -- the severity of the injury will be 'triaged' for how 'badly' you'll need to know about it
            == the Casualty Assistance Officer will visit only in cases of KIA, MIA, POW or injured so severely that death is almost certain.
            == The Primary Next of Kin (PNOK) will be notified before anyone else.  Other members of the Family Support Group will not hear it first.  Any other family members on the list of people to be notified will not be notified before the Primary person is notified.  Do not believe rumors.
            == in case of a visit, the Officers will be in dress uniforms, they will visit you personally, they will not make a phone call.
    -- if the injury is severe, but not a mortal wound, you will receive a call.
    -- if the injury is not severe, and recovery will only take time, the servicemember will probably make the call.

    Methods of notification by service:

    Air Force
    Coast Guard


  • Pranks
    There are some malicious people in the world, and they have preyed on the families of servicemembers by dressing up in uniforms and pretending to be Casualty Assistance Officers.  Do not advertise your status (see the information above) thereby giving these sickos a target.


Books and Booklets

Strategies, and Things to Try

  • Mapping out the commissary
    To make commissary shopping a little less stressful, take the time to make a 'product map' of the commissary either using your computer's graphics program, such as Paint Shop Pro, or making a pen and paper drawing and then scanning it in to your computer, or photocopying it at the library.

    Through the week, jot down the groceries and sundries on a copy of the map, then, at shopping time, just follow your map.
  • "History of Comedy in Movies Study Guide" 
    Deployment is tough enough without focusing on the ever-present, fill-up-a-neverending-loop-of-on-air-time newscasts.  Watching the news concerning the area of deployment is counter-productive.  You're going to do it anyhow, but give yourself some relief by 'studying' the 'history of comedy in movies.'  You have permission to watch as many comedies as necessary to give you a good perspective of the development of movie comedy.
  • More tips from a group, Wives Behind Their Soldiers
  • Suggestions from Online Pal and Marine wife, Laine who says she didn't just fall off that turnip truck:
    -- Short-timer's paper chain
    To help children visualize the the decrease in time until Dad comes home, make a construction-paper chain for the number of days, weeks or months that he'll be gone, and clip them off, one at a time.  For long deployments, making a 365-day chain could be depressing -- not to mention seeing it every day -- so perhaps a series of 'month chains' might be a reasonable alternative.  Twelve chains with the appropriate number of 'days' could form a 'bead curtain' in the hallway.  Make the Sundays a different color so that you see smaller increments of 'time' rather than a huge block.

    --Daddy's Kisses:  keep a jar of Hershey's Kisses so that every night the children can have a goodnight kiss 'from Daddy.'  This also helps when there's an 'owie' that needs a kiss.

    --Kisses to Daddy:  get helium balloons and use them to send hugs, kisses and messages to Daddy.  (and let Daddy know what was said so he can respond appropriately in his letters to the children)

    --Love letters in the Sand:  if you live near the ocean, you can 'send letters' to Daddy who is on the 'other side.'  The tide takes them away.

    --Rubber stamps from Daddy:  Daddy can have a rubber stamp that is used only to send hugs and kisses to the children on postcards and letters.

    --Moon kisses:  the same moon shines on the children and on their Daddy.  Blow kisses to the moon to take to Daddy.


Military Homeschooling column from the July/August 2005 edition of Home Education Magazine


Dealing With Deployment

 Separation is the time when military spouses find out what they’re made of.  It may begin with concern about ‘doing it all’ and end with an appreciation of their own abilities.  Still, trial-by-separation, isn’t often something that families choose.

The separation

 Pick a feeling.  Now reverse it.  Now reverse it again.  Now twist it.  Now reverse that.  For couples early in their marriage these changes in feelings can be scary.  For those married longer, and who may have experienced more separations, they won’t be a surprise.  Once, the servicemember leaves, and is occupied at work, the at-home parent is left either with the settling-down, or the lifting-up, of a weight.  The suspense is over.  It’s happened.

If the servicemember is assigned to an area of conflict, the first order of business is to turn off the television news.  Trying to keep up with the ‘latest’ is a time-sucking source of stress.  Plus, not only does the ‘news’ never end, but, because it never ends, all the spaces between commercials must be filled.  This ‘filling’ may consist of re-runs of shocking (then numbing) film footage.  This will wear you down, stay away from it.

When a person suffers sustained stress, the body may produce too much adrenaline and cortisol as a part of the ‘fight or flight’ defenses.  Chronic stress can affect the immune system.   Along with other parental maladies, from angina to constipation to depression to heart palpitations, stress can affect a family’s children and their development.  If all that isn’t bad enough (and not to make light of it affecting children), stress can make you fat. Sustained high levels of cortisol stimulate abdominal fat cells to create visceral fat. If your spouse is deployed to a hostile area do not watch the news, it can make you fat.

Coping with the separation

When the separation is under way the at-home parent arises each morning, puts one foot in front of the other, and gets on with the day.  While the parent may not be technically not down in the dumps, or completely immobilized, there is an awareness that in the past things usually went more smoothly because there was another adult to pick up the slack.  There was a lot more ‘wiggle room’ concerning that lonely milk carton with just an inch of milk in it, those two slices of bread (both of them ends, and one a little green), the shampoo bottle with only enough shampoo for half a head-wash (which you discover only after you’re already naked and wet), and the disappearance of that extra roll of toilet paper.  So how do at-home parents get over the hump of a long separation?  One day at a time.  This, too, will pass.

The following hints are of the buffet kind — pick what you like and ignore everything else.  The caution is:  if what you choose isn’t working, stop doing it. 

  • Schedule your time — even if you are usually a free bird:  By regularly taking care of your needs, you can lower your stress.  Continually ‘surprising’ yourself with empty milk cartons, shampoo bottles and missing rolls of toilet paper isn’t a nice thing.  Be nice to yourself, and keep things on schedule.  For a relatively painless method of scheduling, try the Sidetracked Home Executive system invented by two desperate ladies, The Slob Sisters, Pam Young and Peggy Jones.  Their google-able web site has a discussion group, a calendar, and a link to the FlyLady list.  If being online is a time-sink for you, their book, Sidetracked Home Executives, is available at bookstores or in your library, either on the shelf or through an inter-library loan.
  • Schedule worrying:  If you worry, do it constructively by keeping a notebook. Write down the worries as they come to you, and then, at the scheduled time, think about what you’ll do if whatever you’re worried about happens; write down your solution.
  • Do the worst things first: get the ‘work’ out of the way so you can concentrate on what you enjoy doing.
  • Prioritize:  make sure the ‘worst’ things you’re doing are important ‘worst’ things and not make-work.
  • Eat more healthily so that your body isn’t dealing with dietary stressors such as caffeine, alcohol and sugar.  The caveat is to build in a ‘fudge factor’ so that you don’t feel deprived.
  • Give yourself a break:  you have permission to do something indulgent.  Watch soppy chick-flicks, read mysteries, buy extra-cute exercise duds, plant flowers even though you’ll be moving eventually.
  • Practice Preventive Maintenance: don’t wait until something goes wrong to deal with a problem.  Regularly check the oil in the car so the engine doesn’t seize up; replace the screen in the front door with the storm door in October instead of January; have the air conditioning system checked in May before there’s a three-day wait in 100°F heat for the repairman; dress the baby in patterned clothes that don’t show the outlines of stains; put Velcro-closing shoes on the toddlers.
  • Subscribe to an online chat group whose description fits your needs. The members of a good email group can give you quick guidance and advice on your schedule.  In the beginning don’t reveal too much, too early, and do not post personal information.  Practice good OPSEC, and ‘feel out’ the group to see if the members are reliable, and the discussions mature.  If not, unsubscribe and use your email program’s Block Sender function to block the email from any immature person with whom you do not wish to communicate.
  • Shun the unit Drama Queens — they suck energy and yours is already spoken for.  A corollary caution is to avoid rumors and gossip about other people in the unit — it’s destructive.


 Coping behaviors to ease the time apart

 During a separation homeschoolers can have extended visits with distant family members. Because of the portability of materials, and the continuity of instruction, little adjustment is necessary if you take a break from your routine.

 Before the separation, reducing the stress level, both for the at-home parent and for the away-from-home parent, can be done by thinking about, and planning for, the separation.  Have the following already in place as part of a ‘just in case’ strategy. 

Military matters

  • check ID card expiration date for all family members who have ID cards

  • if this is a second marriage make sure that personnel records are updated to reflect current beneficiaries


  • make sure all financial changes are made concerning separate rations, and where the LES is to go

  • have separate checking accounts for long separations to prevent overdrafts

  • a record for each parent of bank account numbers and PINs

  • have powers-of-attorney drawn up, either general, limited or both; the caveat to this recommendation is that people or businesses with whom you are dealing are not required to accept the P.O.A.

Household matters

  • ensure the car is in good working order, or that the at-home parent is well-versed about maintenance needs

  • ensure the house is in as good repair as possible


Emergency caregiver

  • have a medical power-of-attorney drawn up, or a durable power-of-attorney for a third-party to be guardian to, or care for, the children in case the at-home parent is incapacitated

  • provide contact numbers for local assistors in case of an emergency and have them displayed so they are findable

  • have paperwork for access to the military installation by the third-party guardian

  • compile information for emergency caregiver for both children and pets:
    allergies or special medical information
    favorite toys and stories
    favorite foods

  • transportation arrangements to return to CONUS (if overseas)

Support for the at-home parent

  • join a group for spouses of deployed servicemembers

  • develop a circle of friends

  • start or join a babysitting co-op

Not every event can be anticipated, but preparation can reduce needless stress.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

 Making Lemonade

Taking a page from “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes” and then turning that idea sideways, are there ways you can look at all those ‘deployment lemons’ and make lemonade out of them?  Consider:

  • lemon: your children just dumped the Rice Krispies on the baby in the saucer
    lemonade:  you have children, you have food, you will not starve because you lost one box of cereal, the baby isn’t hungry anymore
  • lemon:  the cat hacked up a hairball on the carpet
    lemonade:  you have a pet, you have enough money to buy floor-coverings, no veterinary visit is necessary to remove an impacted hairball
  • lemon:  the car needs to go to the garage for maintenance
    lemonade:  you are affluent enough to afford private transportation, you have space to keep a car, you don’t have to do the maintenance yourself
  • lemon:  the yard is full of dandelions with fuzzy heads and the kids keep blowing them
    lemonade:  you have yard for your children to play in
  • lemon:  your husband is deployed
    lemonade:  your family is contributing to the protection of our nation and participating in real-world global events

Military spouses are an integral part of military readiness.  Strong at-home parents support deployed servicemembers, and contribute to their safety by freeing their minds from everyday worries.  Stay strong.  Stay safe.



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This site was last updated:  Wednesday, 10 March 2010