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Letter to a Deploying Soldier

12 Jun

My friend Jon has a brother, and that brother is soon to be deployed for a long time.  Jon’s brother & army buddies like to read his blog, so he asked all of us to submit something for the guys to read.  I thought over it a long time, and today I figured out what I wanted to say.  The inspiration came as I was staring at the hood of our Ford 350 Van trying to decide if I was brave enough to change the air filter– which needs doing– and my husband is gone away for 2 1/2 weeks for his National Guard AT.

Dear Soldier Guys,

We love you and we’re proud of you.   We appreciate the sacrifice you make to serve our country and make people free across the world.  While you are gone, we have to learn to do the things that usually you did for us.  Stuff we know you loved to do for us, and we loved to have you do it.

Some of those things aren’t really so hard– once we manage to remember that they have to be done even though you aren’t here to do them.

Things like:

Filling the car with gas.

Mowing the lawn.

Checking the weather report so the kids know what to wear to school and we know whether to mow the lawn today or can it be put off until tomorrow?

Cleaning out the rain gutters.

Some of the things require more technical skill, and we consider asking a brother/father/friend to do it, before our pride kicks in, and we do it all on our own after all.

Things like:

Using power tools to install a baby gate at the top of the stairs.  (Don’t worry, we recorded the baby crawling so you won’t miss seeing her first taste of independence.)

Changing the air filter in the car.  (That check engine light seemed like the a small blinking herald of doom, but it turned out OK.)

Filing taxes.

Opening pickle jars.

Emptying mouse traps and/or killing spiders.

The one thing we never quite get good at is falling asleep at night without you there beside us.  We never quite get the knack of that, no matter how long your deployment lasts.

So promise you’ll come home to us,

Remember we pray for you every day,

And know that we are alright, just a little sleep-deprived.

And we love you.

And we can’t wait for you to come home and take over squishing the spiders and maintaining the car.


The Girls Back Home

Getting Ready For Deployment, part 2

1 Nov

Little Caesar’s Pizza just opened in my town. I now have $5 Hot-n-Ready pizza within a 5 minute drive. It’s all I need to weather the DH’s deployment successfully. (p.s. still no news as to whether it will happen or not.)

"The List"–or Preparing for Deployment, part 1

11 Oct

10 days ago the Man of the House received a call from Battalion Head Quarters informing him that he was now on a list. This list is a list of National Guard officers who have not yet been deployed. He was also informed that a Colonel would be calling and “interviewing” him regarding an upcoming mission. Were he chosen for that mission, he would be deploying overseas next spring, in April or May. Apparently, once you are on “the list” they continue to consider you for missions until you have your turn at deployment.

Obviously, this is something we knew would come up some time. That is part of being in the military–especially now. However, the Man of the House kept getting transferred to a new Guard Unit every 18 months (this is typical for new officers) and the new unit was always just getting back from deployment. So it seemed like deployment kept getting put off into the nebulous future.

Sunday night the colonel called–though it was less of an interview and more of a giving of information. The colonel informed the Man of the House that they would make a decision and let him know within 24 hours.

Two days later, having heard not a peep, the Man of the House called Battalion HQ and they basically said, “We don’t know why the colonel would say you would know in 24 hours. They always take a long time to make these decisions.” So we resigned ourselves to not knowing for a month or two.

……The last 8 days have seemed like a month or two.

When the Man of the House initially told me what was going on, I confidently assured him that I had known deployment was a large possibility. I knew the kids and I would be just fine–we would miss him, but we would be fine. I’m surrounded by a huge support network of friends and family and everything would be totally manageable.

Then as we waited for news, I began to doubt myself. Was I being over-confident? (Not unusual for me) What if I failed to plan because I was over-confident? What if I was just wrong and we wouldn’t be fine at all? When would they let us know so that I could start preparing whatever it was I needed to prepare? What if they called back and said, “You aren’t going in April, you are going in November. You have 1 month to be ready.” I started to stress out and get all weepy and go through scenarios in my mind where I had to deal with having this baby by myself in December.

??????? IS THIS ME ??????

Then, one particularly depressing day this last week, I took myself and Cutie Pie to a little used bookshop nearby. Because, what can be more cheering when one is in low spirits than a new book–particularly a good Fairy-tale re-write novel with lots of handsome princes/useful farm boys and strong maidens who almost don’t need rescuing?

Just as I was about to leave, I spotted “When Duty Calls: A Handbook for Families Facing Military Separation” by Carol Vandesteeg. I’m pretty sure it was there just for me. I went home and began reading at once (with a handy bag of chocolate chips for companionship.)

The first thing I read was: “Part of Preparation is believing that you will successfully deal with the challenge.” Hope was restored! It is okay to believe that we will be fine. Not only do I get to keep my optimism, my optimism means we have greater chance of weathering deployment successfully!

The rest of the book is sort of a collection of checklists and suggestions. How to be prepared financially. How to prepare and help your children. etc.

Here is what I realized: The man of the House may or may not be sent on this particular deployment. However, deployment is most likely inevitable and there are many things I can do now to make sure our family is ready when the time comes.

Not only that, many of the things I can do now will just make our family more prepared for life–Provident Living stuff. See, statistics say that soldiers are actually more likely to die in a car accident at home than to die during a deployment. Some of the things on the preparing lists were:
*make sure both spouses know all the usernames and passwords to pay the bills
online (If that is how you pay them, which we do.)
*Make sure both spouses know what to feed the family and how to fix meals.
*Make sure both spouses know where to find family records(birth certificates,
shot records, insurance information, etc.)
*Make sure both spouses can change the ink in the computer printer.
*Make sure both spouses know how to care for the family vehicles.
*Do both spouses know what must be done to keep the house neat and orderly?
*Do you have a will?
*Do both spouses know what stores to shop at for clothes for the children?
*Do they know what clothing the children need?

I’ll be pretty much able to keep the house running if my husband spends a year in Afghanistan–because I keep the house running now. What I can’t manage, I can ask for help with. However, if I died in a car accident tomorrow, the Man of the House would be without access to much vital financial and family information. Not good. (p.s. He does know how to change both the ink in the printer and the oil in the car.)

So my stress is all gone now because

#1 I have permission to be optimistic and

#2 I have a whole book of checklists to go through now–checklists which will benefit my family and make us more prepared for life even if deployment never happens. Happy checklists 🙂

Was it worth $3.25 at the bookstore? Absolutely.

Plus, as you all know, now that I am prepared for deployment, it won’t happen. Just like when you are pregnant and you just can’t resist that cute baby boy outfit–you are sure to have a girl instead. Or when you decide you are done having kids altogether and you give away all your maternity clothes….we all know what happens next.

P.S. I found this cool picture, but don’t you think the wife should be holding like a vacuum or a frying pan or a lawnmower and not an AK47 (or whatever it is)?