The Joys of Predeployment
10/07/2014 | Jenelle Hatzung
(Editor's Note: Jen is a military spouse from Blue Star Families and contributes as a guest blogger to their free e-book, “Everyone Serves: A Handbook for Family and Friends of Service Members During Pre-Deployment, Deployment and Reintegration.”)
You know what is harder and more stressful than deployment? PRE-DEPLOYMENT.
My husband is leaving soon. OpSec, or operational security, prevents me from giving out any more details than that but he’s heading out for an extended period of time. But what many people don’t realize is that the deployment doesn’t simply begin on a Monday at 9:00 a.m. sharp. This isn’t your average work trip. Deployment begins long before the actual departure with work ups that usually leave our marriage feeling empty and drained.
Say the word "work-ups" to any milspouse friend and they usually cringe. They are instantly brought back to their last work-up and can sympathize with how ugly that time period is.
My husband is in the same city as I am, but he might as well be sitting off the coast or working from the flight line in Europe because the man is not here. He slips into bed near midnight — a steaming cup of coffee on my night stand the only evidence he’s been home – and then leaves again as the sun is rising. And since he is either on the flight line or flying back and forth from the aircraft carrier I know he is pretty much unavailable all day. He has to keep those birds flying which is important, I know. But there are days when I’m just stunned that a big hunk of metal trumps me every time.
Work-ups are also the very real reminder that deployment is just around the corner.
And so as I find myself in the middle of pre-deployment hell I am trying to be as up beat as possible. I remind myself we will get through this just as thousands of families do every year and this time next year, pre-deployment will just be a faded memory.
The best way I know how to keep upbeat is to make a list. Life feels more organized if I have a list. Here’s my “5 things to do before deployment” checklist.
1. Plan a pre-deployment getaway. It doesn’t have to be a grand vacation, but a few days away from the hustle and bustle is just what our marriage needs right now. How about a 4-day wine country vacation? Yes, please! A few days to turn phones off, leave life behind and just enjoy a few days of time together is exactly what the doctor ordered.
2. Make a list of projects that need to be tackled while he is gone. The list includes: finding two comfy reading chairs for our front room and searching thrift stores and estate sales for the perfect piece of furniture for our entry way to hide shoes, scarves, gloves, and dog leashes. #furniturelover
3. Plan a few deployment jaunts for me. I have plans to visit friends back in California next year, a trip to Minnesota to see my parents and a friend is set to visit in the spring. These three events are going to be great distractions while I journey though most of 2014 with my trusty and furry companion, our adorable dachshund, Khloe.
4. Download and read Blue Star Families FREE ebook, Everyone Serves. It talks about the good and the bad through pre-deployment, deployment and reintegration. A great resource for any family member who is getting ready for a deployment. I’m sharing it with my husband’s family too. Sometimes it’s hard for them to understand our existence – this helps explain why just before he leaves is not the best time for them to visit.
5. Set work goals for 2014. The silver lining to a deployment is that I can spend those next long months really focusing on my job and career. I won’t feel like a bad wife for ignoring the laundry, eating the same meal 4 nights in a row or letting my shoe collection by the front door build up.
I’ll also plan my homecoming outfit again and again and dream about our first kiss … of course after that, then the post-deployment blues set in. But that’s another story for another day!
Jenelle Hatzung is the Social Media Manager for Blue Star Families. Since 2009 when she first began blogging Hatzung discovered her passion for the social media market. Since then, Jen has managed the social media presence for an extensive list of clients during which time she also worked & volunteered for various military organizations. She manages the non-profit’s national social media outreach, developing and coordinating online support and activities for military families and civilians. Jen has a B.A. in Political Science for the University of California, Riverside. Jenelle and her husband were honored in Washington DC as the 2011 Navy Family of the Year.
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