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pleiades's avatar

How do military parents prepare for deployment mentally in saying goodbye to their children and spouse?

Asked by pleiades (6576points) May 26th, 2014

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6 Answers

majorrich's avatar

Truthfully speaking, I don’t think I could. I would go in his stead rather than have him face a deployment. I think battles would be much shorter if they sent we old guys out instead of young bucks. First, we don’t have as much to lose and more to fight for. Second, we aren’t afraid to fight dirty. third, we would have to take a break at 2pm for our naps.

CWOTUS's avatar

If you think about it – which most people do not, apparently – every time you leave the house to go to work, or shopping, or whatever, or any time that your kids leave the house could be the last time that you see each other. You have an expectation that you’ll all live through the day and see each other that evening, or at the end of the business trip or whatever, but there is never any certainty.

Military parents and spouses generally have explicitly faced and accepted that uncertainty.

Coloma's avatar

My ex husband was in the service many moons ago and I did not handle it well at all.
I was not cut out to be a military wife. It was extremely stressful not knowing what might happen. Of course, being my ex, I was actually more worried he’d get arrested for Thai stick in Thailand in some Thai brothel or crash his little scooter drunk in the Philippines.
Too bad he wasn’t a war casualty in hindsight. lol

Pandora's avatar

When my husband was in the military, their always seemed to be a pattern that followed most military spouses. It seems like most would become irritable about a month to two weeks before deployment. I think it was a mixture of stress, excitement, and sadness. Seems like most tried to separate mentally from the family before leaving. The last few days were more filled with sadness of leaving the kids and spouse and apprehension of what might happen while gone, to them and their family. I would usually be annoyed at first about him leaving and his irritableness and then remember that this is the usual behavior before deployments.

So I would insist that we do things before going but not bend any rules for the kids. The more routine we kept things, the easier it was on the kids. I would make him his favorite meals and remind him not to worry while he was gone because I would keep things going well while he was gone.

Proper preparation helped to calm his anxiety and mine. So long as we were each solid and clear on what we needed to do for the next couple of months, we were fine. Having family stay in touch with both also helped a great deal. For me, knowing that he had good friends who would look out for him was what helped me through his deployments. Whenever he moved to a new unit I made sure to know his friends. With time they often felt like extended family and without me asking, they would always assure me that they would keep an eye on him for me.

Within a few months he would return and the reunions were something to always look forward too. I would write several letters a week and give him updates on the kids and plenty of pictures so he wouldn’t feel he was missing anything and the kids wouldn’t seem like strangers when he got back. And he wrote plenty to us home. I would even send video recordings if he was in a place where it was possible for him to view them or cassette tapes. Doing these things also allowed the kids and I to feel involved in his life and it helped out his moral.

As for preparing just before departure. I think most people try to steady their minds for the things they have to do for the trip. But I never failed to see a lot of tears from soldiers as they left their loved ones behind. Many tried to hold back the tears in front of their pals, but honestly most don’t say anything. There is a huge somber feeling that washes over every soldier before they depart. They unusually are quiet at first but eventually they only think of the tasks ahead once they are all together. For my husband, he always thought, the sooner he leaves the sooner he would be home. We were pros at counting down the days.

Seaofclouds's avatar

My experience as a military wife was similar to @Pandora.‘s The time before the departure is the hardest, especially that last month or so. Sometimes you can’t help from catching yourself thinking “this is the last time we’ll do this for the next year”. My husband and I tried to keep everything as routine as possible. We also tried not to think about his upcoming departure. For our son, he was old enough to understand what was going on, so we were open and honest with him. On the day of my husband’s departure, the soldier’s didn’t have to report until after the children were at school, so we (my husband and I) took our son to school and they said their goodbyes there. We wanted him to go to school so he would be distracted and not dwelling on it all day. Then I took my husband to report in. We said our goodbyes privately and then he “went to work”.

In talking to my husband after he left, I actually asked him how it affected him to leave. He said that as much as he hated leaving, he had work to do and he had to be there for his fellow soldiers.

Pandora's avatar

I would like to mention that people often forget about the single soldier. Especially those who are often alone. Those were often the ones we invited into our home to feel they were not only a part of our lives but a part of their military family unit. They would often have it the hardest when deployed because they felt isolated and apart. They may resist family gatherings but nothing makes them show up faster than free good food and some beer. LOL

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