It can be devastating to find out that your loved one will be deploying. You may initially hope that time will slow down and prevent their departure date from arriving. Then, as the day grows even closer you may find yourself hoping it will just hurry up and come. What’s wrong with you, you may wonder. Do you no longer love your service member? Do you want them to just go away? You will be relieved to know that this is a very common feeling.
Many people report that the time immediately before a deployment is more difficult for their relationship than the deployment itself. The service member may be stressed with work commitments. Any last-minute arrangements that have to be made like writing a Power of Attorney must be taken care of. On top of all this, with the deployment looming there is pressure to ensure that all time spent together is “quality” time. Memories must be made and every moment must be picture perfect. With all this stress, it’s no wonder many people want the deployment to just get started.
Realize that while you should take advantage of the last few days or weeks before a deployment, this small period of time doesn’t define you or your relationship. It sometimes feels necessary to spend every possible moment with your service member because they will be leaving soon, but give yourself and your loved one permission to take a break from each other. Spend time with friends; they will be your support system while your loved one is away.
Don’t put off practical matters like exchanging currency, getting a Power of Attorney, or evaluating internet options for the country they will be deploying to. While the idea of spending all your time gazing into each other’s eyes may seem appealing, you’ll be glad you didn’t procrastinate on practical affairs. Use the time before the deployment to learn about OPSEC (Operations Security). For you, this means understanding what information about your loved one’s deployment you are allowed to tell others. There may be some aspects of the deployment that your service member cannot share with you. Don’t take this personally.
While taking an expensive pre-deployment vacation may sound like fun, take a good look at your schedule and finances before committing to one. Many deployments, especially noncombat deployments, do not involve significant additional pay, so putting an expensive trip on a credit card with the idea that you can pay it off during the deployment may not be realistic. The time immediately before a deployment can also be rushed. Make sure your service member can get the necessary leave before scheduling a vacation.
The strange mix of dread and impatience that many people feel regarding a loved one’s upcoming deployment can cause a lot of guilt. These feelings are very normal and nothing to feel guilty about. Counting down to something unpleasant like the start of a deployment is stressful. The sooner the deployment starts, the sooner you can start counting the days until your loved one returns.
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