Thursday, January 28, 2010

Preparing For Deployment

So while Marine is out training in preparation for the upcoming deployment I figured I to should start preparing.

While his preparation is mental as well as physical, mine will be mainly focused on the mental aspect. The reality that he will be gone for 7 to 8 months.

Personally I am glad (for my sake) that he will be deployed during the summer months when my schedule will be jam packed with horse shows and other Saddle Club events. The time will pass faster as long as I stay busy.... or at least that's what I tell myself.

I Googled - Relationships and Deployment - and found several good links. One that I found interesting within the Marine Pre-deployment Guide for families, was referred to as the emotional cycle of deployment (Below was taken from this website ~ of course with my commentary thrown in, this can be seen in red!):


A. Stage one – Anticipation of Departure (1–6 weeks before departure).
Before the deployment it is not uncommon for spouses to protest, to feel tense, to be frustrated and
to avoid the reality of the Marine’s/Sailor's departure. Spouses may unexpectedly find themselves crying at what may seem to be little things. There is also tension as couples cram a multitude of activities in a reduced time frame. There are things to fix, things to do, and people to see. It can be a hectic and frustrating time
~ I disagree with the the 1st part, I'm sad Marine is deploying but I don't feel frustrated. It's his job. It's something he has to do. And thankfully to men like him I am able to sleep in my warm bed at night safely. --- From personally experience though I do agree that couples try to cram in as much as they can. Every time Marine comes home the list of things to do and people to see seems endless.

B. Stage Two - Detachment and Withdrawal (Last week before departure).
Detachment may begin before the actual departure. There may be anger and emotional break-offs as people prepare for separation. It can be a time of mixed feelings, as one attempts to protect oneself from hurt by distancing, yet wants to make the most of the available time. At the beginning of this stage the spouse may experience the grief of loss. Detachment will also be a part of the whole separation time. It is the state of routine, day to day, living. ~ Hmmmmm...... I hope that I do not go through this! What an awful thing to be this way the last week together. I would th
ink that it should be a time to appreciate being together. Be thankful for those last moments. Not spend them being distant.

C. Stage Three - Emotional Disorganization (1-6 weeks into deployment).
Emotional disorganization can occur initially when the spouse attempts to make new routines and carry out their duties. Many spouses are depressed and withdraw from friends and neighbors, especially if the neighbors’ spouses are home. They often feel overwhelmed as they face total responsibility for family affairs. The disorganization soon passes, however, as the spouse recovers.

Important notes to remember during both stage two and three is take care of your and your children’s health. Shop and cook for healthy nutrition. Get plenty of rest and exercise. In addition, avoid trying to do everything all by yourself. Contact family, friends, neighbors, and spouses of other deployed Marines/Sailors whenever you need practical or emotional support. There are many other spouses in your unit family that are dealing with the same emotions and increased responsibilities that you are feeling. Often it helps just to talk to someone in the “same boat.”

Now this I understand a little more. I can see being depressed to begin with as you settle into a new pattern. You no longer have that significant other to rely on.

D. Stage Four – Recovery and stabilization (variable, between weeks 3 & 5).
Recovery and stabilization occurs as the spouse gets set into a routine and realizes they are doing fine. It is a time of increased confidence. A subconscious move from “we” to “me” has taken place at least to some degree. The spouse often refers to “my house,” “my car,” and “my kids.” Most spouses have a new sense of independence and freedom and take pride in their ability to cope.

E. Stage Five – Anticipation of return (6 weeks before return).
This is the “Oh boy! They’re almost home,” stage. With it comes excitement and anxiety. Some spouses become frenzied, as they rush around trying to make everything perfect for their Marine’s/Sailor's return. Many spouses start diets and pick up the pace of doing what ever it is they feel must be done before the Marine/Sailor returns.

Important notes to remember for stage five is don’t expect things to be perfect after the reunion. Consider setting aside quiet time during the first few days. Avoid planning a busy schedule of events. Even though reunion is exciting, it can be stressful, too. Changes may have occurred and you both will need time to adjust. He gained weight, she changed her hair, and the kids probably have grown. Another area to think about is the budget. There will be increased food costs and greater transportation costs.

F. Stage Six – Return adjustment and renegotiation (6 weeks after return).
Upon return to home the phase of adjustment and renegotiation of the relationship begins. The set of assumptions and expectations need to be reset, and reevaluated (fine tuned), to account for the changes that have occurred in the past 6 months or year. It may be a time of tension and fighting. This is, however, normal and to be expected. Communication is the key. Especially during stage six. Remember, open, honest communication can solve many problems or conflicts.

G. Stage Seven – Reintegration and stabilization (6-12 weeks after return).
The last stage is when reintegration of the family is complete and things have stabilized. The move from “me” (my house, my car, my kids) to “us” (our house, our car, our kids) is complete. The returning spouse is a part of the family again, and “normal” life resumes.

It will be interesting to see how how I handle the stages in the upcoming months.

Also in preparation I have been looking for creative ideas for care packages (besides the 'want' list Marine has already prepared for me). And things I can do that may help the days pass a little better for Marine.

  1. Jar full of inspiration: Fill a plastic jar full of inspirational messages to keep your soldiers hopes up. Put exactly the same amount of messages as days that he will be gone. On the front, put a message that says “Prescribed: Take one dose of inspiration each day.” ~ Super CUTE idea, that I will be sure to do!

  2. Send brochures about the places you want to go when he returns ~ In our case I'm going send honeymoon ideas :)

  3. Cake in a Jar ~ Sound interesting? YOU BET! I kept seeing this over and over so I had to look up the recipe. Definitely a cute idea I'll have to try.

  4. Over at the Army Wife Network they mention several ideas for themed packages. A cute one was: Hang in There! – stuffed animal monkey, banana bread, banana chips, banana pudding, monkey’s in a barrel game, card with a monkey on it.

I found many other great ideas, but thought I would limit the list to four.

Now also since Marine will be out of electronic range (i.e. no email or computers) I thought of a way to personalize or spice up our letter correspondence. Today I purchased a pre-deployment gift that I plan on giving Marine when he is home in February. The Kodak zx1 (on sale right now with Amazon). It's small, durable, weather proof and best of all takes 2 AA batteries. Perfect for middle of nowhere use. In the next few months I plan on purchasing one for myself as well. This we can take videos and mail the memory cards back and forth with the letters. It's nice getting love letters but how great will it be to get a video from him where I can actually see him as he talks to me telling me about his day? Or that I can send him video's of horse shows or other everyday events I will experience here.

I think it will be a great addition to letters.

Anybody else dealt with deployment? I would love to hear feedback, personal stories, etc! :)


Priscilla said...

As a wife to a Sailor, we go through deployments often. I will have to agree with the withdrawal phase. For us, most of the time it's the last two weeks but then in the couple of days prior to him leaving things seem to be a little better.

Care packages are so much fun to do! Especially when they are themed. If you ever bake homemade cookies, throw in a piece of bread to help them stay fresh. Nine times out of ten the cookies will be in a lot of crumbs but for some reason the boys still love them! I really like the monkey theme. I may have to do that one.

Advice? Don't have much of it. But hang in there. Everyone says stay busy and it sure does sound like you will be this summer. With two small kids, I am always busy!

Good luck to you!

One of The Guys said...

You have such a positive attitude about this. Good luck.

I think your idea about sending videos back and forth is a great idea.

My sister lives on the west coast and I'm on the east coast. We're attempting to do this as well, so we can see each other's kids, etc.

Date Girl said...

I agree with One of the Guys, the videos sound great.

You've got the right idea-keeping busy is key, and keeping a positive attitude. I think the time will go faster than you think, especially since you'll be busy planning your wedding!!

Thanks for the comment on my blog, we are so similiar it's downright SCARY! Must be a Virgo thing. I think you're dealing with the military thing much better than I am, but perhaps it's because Marine was already a military guy when you met? How cool would it be if both our guys became firemen? :-) Good luck with deployment, if there's anyone out there strong enough to handle it, it's you!