Saturday, April 08, 2017

Military Moments (with Amanda): He Said, She Said

I am so excited about these weekly Blog post from Amanda -- our chaplain's wife when I lived in Turkey. These"Military Moments" posts allow her to discuss and share ideas and stories from military life. 

Want to know what couples go through when they are separated because of a deployment? The first answer is probably that none of them go through the same things, but the way they choose to stay connected and cope with being apart is something we can all use when we are far away from someone we love.
I asked the same series of questions to couples in different stages of deployments and with different situations they were leaving behind.  I’ll be sharing updates about them here with you. 
Here is how Rachel and Josh (not their real names) are staying connected:
Me: Can you give us a little family background and pre-deployment plans for connectivity with your husband?

Rachel: We are a very close knit family of four. Josh and I have been married for 19 years; our daughter is 15 and our son is 11.  My son plays travel hockey and my daughter travel volleyball. My husband and I always kept in touch during previous deployments by letter, email and our two telephone calls a month. Technology has definitely made keeping in touch a lot easier this time around. I opened email addresses for both of my children through Yahoo so that he could send them messages privately. We also all have a telephone so they are able to see their messages from him all day. We had decided that he would video chat with us at the same time each night, which is new for me, but he found a site, TANGO, that allows for this by using Wi-Fi. He gets up to get ready for work and calls us as the kids are getting done for the night and ready for bed. It has worked out wonderful considering the nine and a half hour time difference. We have also been able to dial him in at both of the kids sporting events as long as the building has Wi-Fi too.  It has really helped make them all feel like he is still here sometimes.
Me: What has been the hardest thing to adjust to?
Rachel: This is definitely not our first deployment but definitely the toughest. The kids are older and into many activities, which he has missed most of since leaving. I also homeschool my son, so the fact that my husband has been gone for most of the school year has been hard on me. There are not many instances for breaks until my daughter is home. And even after all our other deployments, this is the one that I absolutely miss him the most. We are so close to the end of his career that I worry more about him now than I ever did before.  

Me: Has anything in the house/car broken since he left? 
Rachel: I haven't had any technical problems with the house or car since I do make sure the keep most things up to date. Our home security system went crazy and I had to fight with Cox to get it fixed without having to pay for it. That is usually my bigger stressor -- taking care of all our finances and things that need to be taken care of with the house and kids. The only thing broken is me when I cannot be at both kids’ events at the same time. I hate having to send my older one with another family, but we've been so blessed with help from friends.

Me: Anything specifically working or not working to feel connected?  Technology issues or emotional issues?
Rachel: Our nightly video chats are what keeps us sane. Although I will say that when he doesn't call on time, I do worry about him. I have to remember that his Wi-Fi is not always working and that there are things happening over there that call him away. He usually tries his best to let me know when that happens. Email has been great too. I usually always have a message from him. Snail mail has been more of a problem this time. Things are taking so much longer this deployment than many others. And because he missed so many holidays this time, we do send him quite a few things.  He gets them but most times very late.  

Me: What Resources are you using to help cope?  Military resources or friends/family resources?
Rachel:  The base we are at does not have a lot of programs suited to families.  Our deployment manager has done his best at creating events each month, but because we are a joint base and the bases are quite a distance, we usually only attend the ones that are closest to us, 2 in the last 4 months.  I haven't made a lot of friends this time around either so the fact that I am super busy with the kids has helped make the time feel like it's gone by pretty quickly.  But that does not leave a lot of me time and there really is not much to do here.  We've definitely had much better assignments during other deployments.  I know you have to make it the best that you can, so we definitely do not sit around feeling sorry for ourselves.

Me: Any other Family members' adjustment problems or successes (specifically if you have children)?
Rachel:  My kids definitely miss their daddy, but they are both holding up well considering the circumstances. My daughter is a teen and sometimes she is harder to read. I know she misses him though. She does do her best to fill him in every night about things that have happened during her day. My son on the other hand wears his heart on his sleeve. He has done well with but will be the one to remind me that Dad is calling in seven minutes, or Dad must not be calling us since it's past 8:30. He asks questions about what Dad does all the time and has already began making plans on what he and my husband will be doing once he returns home. I am used to these separations, but it has been a lot harder on me this time around. I get scared when things happen that I know he is involved with. We've been together so long that I just want him to come home as this might be our last deployment time. But I have to get up every day and take care of the responsibilities here and my kids need me until their daddy comes home.
HE SAID . . .
Me: How long have you been there and how much time do you have left before returning home?
Josh: I have been gone for the last 131 days. I am expecting to be here around 60 more days.

Me: What has been the hardest thing to adjust to?
Josh: Missing out on family moments. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, school dances, volleyball games and practices, Hockey games and practices, homework, television on the couch, lunches and dinners.

Me: What is not hard?
Josh: This is my fifth deployment and probably my last so Renee and I have been through this
many times. Our daughter has been through one previous deployment, but our son is getting this for the first time. The hardest thing on this deployment was seeing him cry at the airport when I was leaving knowing that he was going to have to go through this.

Me: Do you feel connected to what is going on back home?
Josh: I feel connected to what my family is doing back home but local news or even national news I really have no clue. I do not spend a lot of time reading about it or watching the television. To be honest I work 12 to 14 hours a day and do an hour or so in the gym followed by a couple of hours of homework per night. I do have contact with my family every day to catch up on what has happened for the day. I have been able to watch a few hockey games and some volleyball games via internet which has been great.

Me:  What resources are you using to stay resilient?  Are those local military
resources or friends/family or something else?
Josh:  Am I staying mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally resilient? Yes. We have had some very traumatic experiences on this rotation but the local family (Squadron) have pulled together to support each other. We have some very good fitness accommodations. Our chapel staff comes over at least once every week and is very easy to get in touch with.  Emotionally, I am fine as well. Just miss my family and am ready to head home and see them again.

Thank you both for your service to our country and for sharing with how you stay connected. I pray for a wonderful reunion for this family. Send someone my way if you think they'd like to talk to me about their deployment. I love hearing all the different ways people stay connected, and I'm sure they will help people in future deployments.

Opinions expressed in guest posts are not necessarily those of the station manager (i.e. Wendi!)

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