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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Deployment NoNo's and How to Help

Today in my post - I am contemplating military life. Yesterday my husbands bff came over here to Korea to start his year long tour without his family. His wife, also active duty is pregnant with their 2nd child and he has to be away the entire pregnancy. This breaks my heart. I know what they are going through, and I know how much he misses his family. So while trolling the internet, I came across this post - and I felt I had to re-post here. The list is so relevant. As the "war" rolls into it's 8th year, it seems that the sacrifices of the military family become less and less appreciated and even noticed by those on the outside of the military community.
Every day a military family struggles with a deployment. Every day a mom, and a dad sit in the sand box, or in locations that might not seem to some as important - like Saudi or Korean, but they are still separated from their family waiting and wanting to come home. This is not a pity post - We do it because we STRONGLY believe in what we are doing. My husband and his friend, they are lifers, in for over 15 years. This is not their first separation and it will most likely not be the last, but while they are apart there are so many things that you and others can do for them. Offer to mow the grass, watch the kids so that the parent at home has a quite evening. Bring over a cooked dinner. Do these things in the middle of the deployment, not the beginning or just at the end. So many others say they will help and then never follow through. If you really want to help, call your local Army National Guard or Air Guard or Marine Detachment and tell them you want to help out the families and ask to speak to the FRG or the Key Spouse. These are the ladies that are in charge of the families while the unit id deployed. Ask them what you or your church group can do to help - simple things like mowing the lawn. This will make the guys (and gals) over there fell so much better about their families at home - they will know that they are being taken care of.
This list is a list of what NOT to ask - they are some of the classics ..... and yes they have all be said - (repost)

1. “Aren’t you afraid that he’ll be killed?”
(This one ranks in at number one on the “duh” list. Of course we’re afraid. We’re terrified. The thought always lingers at the backs of our minds —but thanks brilliant, you just brought it back to the front. Maybe next you can go ask someone with cancer if they’re scared of dying.)

2. “I don’t know how you manage. I don’t think I could do it.”(This is intended to be a compliment. Though, its just a little annoying. Here’s why: it’s not like all of us military wives

have been dreaming since childhood of the day we’d get to be anxious single moms who carry cell phones with us to the bathroom and in the shower. We’re not made of some mysterious matter that makes us more capable, we just got asked to take on a challenging job. So we rose to the challenge and found the strength to make sacrifices.)

3. “At least he’s not in Iraq.”
(This is the number one most annoying comment for those whose husbands are in Afghanistan. What do they think is happening in Afghanistan? An international game of golf? Guys are fighting and dying over there.)

4. “Do you think he’ll get to come home for Christmas/anniversary/birthday/birth of a child/wedding/family reunion, etc?”
(Don’t you watch the news? No! They don’t get to come home for any of these things. Please don’t ask again.)

5. “What are you going to do to keep yourself busy while he’s gone?”
(Short answer: Try to keep my sanity. Maybe there’s a military wife out there who gets bored when her husband leaves, but I have yet to meet her. For the rest of us, those with and without children, we find ourselves having to be two people. That keeps us plenty busy. We do get lonely, but we don’t get bored, and drinking massive amounts of wine always helps keep me busy.)

6. “How much longer does he have until he can get out?”
(This one is annoying to many of us whether our husbands are deployed or not. Many of our husbands aren’t counting down the days until they “can” get out. Many of them keep signing back up again and again because they actually love what they do or they VOLUNTEER AGAIN and AGAIN to go back to Iraq b/c there is work that needs to be done.)

7. “This deployment shouldn’t be so bad, now that you’re used to it.”
(Sure, we do learn coping skills and its true the more deployments you’ve gone through, the easier dealing with it becomes. And we figure out ways to make life go smoother while the guys are gone. But it never gets “easy” and the bullets and bombs don’t skip over our guys just because they’ve been there before. The worry never goes away.)

8. “My husband had to go to Europe for business once for three weeks. I totally know what you’re going through.”
(This one is similar to number two. Do not equate your husband’s three week trip to London/Omaha/Tokyo/etc. with a 12-15 month or more deployment to a war zone. Aside from the obvious time difference, nobody shot at your husband or tried to blow him up with an I.E.D., your husband could call home pretty much any time he wanted to, he flew comfortably on a commercial plane, slept between crisp white sheets and ate well, paying for everything with an expense account. There is no comparison. We do not feel bonded to you in the slightest because of this comment and, if anything, we probably resent you a bit for it. Comparing a 12 month combat deployment to a few weeks business trip is like comparing a shitty ford taurus with mercedes convertible.)

9. “Wow you must miss him?”(This one also gets antoher big “duh”. Of course we miss our men. There are some wives who do not and they’re now divorced.)

10. “Where is he exactly? Where is that?”
(I don’t expect non-military folks to be able to find Anbar Province on a map, but they should know by now that it’s in Iraq. Likewise, know that Kabul and Kandahar are in Afghanistan. Know that Muqtada al Sadr is the insurgent leader of the Mahdi Army in Iraq and that Sadr City is his home area. Know that Iran is a major threat to our country and that it is located between Afghanistan and Iraq. Our country has been at war in Afghanistan for seven years and at war in Iraq for five years. These basic facts are not secrets, they’re on the news every night and in the papers every day —and on maps everywhere.)

11. “Well, he signed up for it, so it’s his own fault whatever happens over there.
(Yes, ignorant, he did sign up. Each and every day he protects your right to make stupid comments like that. He didn’t sign up and ask to be hit by anything, he signed up to protect his country. Oh, and by the way, he asked me to tell you that “You’re welcome.” He’s still fighting for your freedom.)

12. “Don’t you miss sex! I couldn’t do it!”(hmmm, no i don’t miss sex. i’m a robot. seriously…military spouses learn quickly that our relationships must be founded on something greater than sex. We learn to appreciate the important things, like simply hearing their voices, seeing their faces, being able to have dinner together every night. And the hard truth is, most relationships probably couldn’t withstand 12 months of sex deprivation.)

13. “Well in my opinion…..”
(Stop right there. Yo, I didn’t ask for you your personal political opinions. Hey, I love a heated political debate, but not in the grocery store, not in Jamba Juice, not at Nordstrom, not in a restaurant when I’m out with my girls trying to forget the war, and CERTAINLY NOT AT WORK. We tell co-workers about deployments so when we have to spend lunch hours running our asses off doing errands and taking care of the house, dog, and kids, they have an understanding. We do not tell co-workers and colleagues because we are giving an invitation to ramble about politics or because we so eagerly want to hear how much they hate the President, esp. while we’re trying to heat up our lean cuisines in the crappy office microwaves.)

last but not least….

14. “OH, that’s horrible…I’m so sorry!”
(He’s doing his job and he’s tough. Don’t be sorry. Be a
ppreciative and please take a moment out of your comfortable American lives to realize that our soldiers fight the wars abroad so those wars stay abroad.)

If you want to say anything, say thank you.