We have just a couple of days before my husband deploys for over six months overseas, of course in true military style he is actually away this week on training too so it’s been a week of realisation for me.
It’s here, I am actually going to be flying solo for quite some time……..over 170 sleeps!
We found out about this deployment (which was a bit of a surprise) about 10 weeks ago and from that moment I promised myself I was going to try my very hardest to deal with it differently to how I have the other six tours we’ve been through. The last long tour my husband deployed on was Afghanistan which was probably five or six years ago now and it changed me (read more HERE) I was adamant I was not going to let myself return to that place, I wanted to be reflective and look at it through different eyes with the aim of making it easier for myself.
The thing is I am much older now, I was 18 when I first went away on a deployment and I was 20 when I went through our first deployment as a married couple with a baby, I am now in my thirties. I have learnt so much along the way and I treasure my life, I really don’t want to spend six months crying, being resentful and trying to accelerate time.
This pre-deployment phase we have dealt with so differently and right now with a few days to go I feel so much better about my husband, I feel full of love for him and not resentment. You see over previous tours I have hated him for leaving me and that has made it harder for him, one tour I refused to send him letters or parcels because I really wanted to punish him. I know that makes me sound like the worst wife and reading it back makes me so sad but lots was going on in our lives and my emotional well-being at that point I can now see wasn’t great and I dealt with the separation badly.
I was hurting.
We have spent lovely time together over the last few weeks, real quality time going places, eating out and we had a last big bang party with all our very nearest and dearest to say a huge thank you to them who will be the ones to get me through the next six months ultimately.
Right now I don’t feel hurt or betrayal, I just feel love. Marriage isn’t easy and with the added complexity of military life it can be a rocky road and for us it has been an insane journey over the last 18 years, when I say rocky for us it has been mountainous!
Hard work in the pre-deployment phase really is worth it, book that meal, go on that night away and overdose on each other. I am really feeling like it is helping my outlook on this deployment, I’m still sad but I’m not feeling out of control.
The logistics of a long deployment can feel overwhelming, if this is your first long period of separation or like me you were just a bit rusty hopefully this checklist will help you remember just a few ways to get prepared. My husband isn’t deploying with a large group of others and SHOCK HORROR we haven’t received any kind of support or acknowledgment from any official military welfare channel so here’s a checklist of things that might help you;
Post is something you will love to receive and also love to send, there is something called the Enduring families free mail service (you can read all the details HERE) It means you can pop into any Post Office and ask for a handful of ‘blueys’ and these can be handwritten, folded, sealed and then the BFPO address popped on then straight in the postbox. Not all BFPO numbers are free so check, you also can’t include anything in these, you can however send small parcels up to 2kgs free, again only some BFPO numbers are entitled to this service.
There is a new online free letter service, it has taken over from eBluey and called INtouch. I’ve not used it yet so will keep you posted, you can register HERE
It is important you have one of these JCCC (Joint Casualty & Compassionate Centre) cards at home with your service persons number, rank and name written on it in case there is an emergency at home while they are away and you need to report it through the official channels to get a message to them, report an illness, accident, bereavement. It is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year service.
Read more about the JCCC HERE
WelComE is the service which deals with the phone minutes, voicemail and WiFi over deployments, service personnel get given 30 minutes a week to use on a phone card to call home, there is a service whereby you can top this up using their 9 digit card number and add minutes for a cost and there is also the service where you can leave voicemails for free that your service person can hear when he next uses the card. See the website and details HERE
Mobile Phone contract – We called my husbands provider and they have put his airtime bill on hold for the 6 months so we still will pay the device plan but not airtime as he isn’t allowed his phone so would be a waste. Its worth a phone call to see if they will do this.
Something for you – I have subscribed my daughter for Teen Breathe magazine but they also have an adult version, its a magazine about mindfulness and looking after you, I thought it was perfect and often struggle to think of ways to support our teenager in the right way through military life. See more about the Breathe magazines HERE
School – If you have children that are school age fill out one of the separation forms and pop into school, giving them just the heads up what is going on at home can really help teachers be prepared in supporting children who may have a wobble one day. Print it off HERE
Start your countdown! Different things work for everyone, some people use sweets in a jar, Blackboard countdown, some use a separation paper chain (activity sheet for this HERE) tonight we used the chuff chart sheets from the Little Troopers separation packs and feel ready to take on the next six months with my daughter by my side.
I know the next time I will be writing I will be utterly heartbroken but right now I feel the preparation has helped, I hope these links help you if you have a deployment coming up be it a couple of months or ten it isn’t easy but together we can do it.
Lots of love Louise xxxx