This is my deployment story
It’s been over a year since my husband has been home from deployment and these days during the COVID-19 pandemic, I find myself reflecting on our journey and our blessings. I have to be honest, going into deployment I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t think there would be as much crying and frustration as it would. The first two weeks were the hardest two weeks I ever experienced. I was lonely, I was sad, I was depressed and emotional. Coming home from work to an empty home every day made it even harder. Every day I felt like a piece of me was missing, and it was. Shawn was thousands and thousands of miles away from me and there was nothing I could do about getting him back to me any faster.
However, after a month into deployment things started to settle a little more. I got back into my normal routine of working out, writing, hobbies, and volunteering on base. Getting back into my flow, believe it or not, made the deployment go by smoother. I won’t say it went by faster, but it helped keep myself busy by surrounding myself with a strong and supportive community. I want to share my deployment story with you. The person reading this right now, who is about to go through their first deployment. I am going to tell you how and what got me through my first deployment. I will also provide important links to resources that help support military families and spouses. Keep in mind, every military spouse, or also known as “milspouse” experience is not the same during deployment. Everyone’s story is different. But it does help to know that you are not the only one out here trying to balance a military spouse lifestyle. Please feel free to share my story and information that I provide with other spouses and family members you know.
It all started with our first holiday away from one another as newlyweds. I was so set on not decorating our first home for Christmas because of course he was deployed. I mean what’s the point of decorating your first home for the holidays if your significant other is not there to enjoy it with you, right?
But, I refused to feel sad and depressed because he was gone. Christmas and New Year’s are my favorite times of the year because it always reminds me of home and my childhood. Decorating for the holidays was the closest thing I had to remind me of my family back at home in Hanover and Baltimore. If there is ONE thing I remember as a kid loving about Christmas, it would be the wreaths. My mom owned this burgundy wreath that I always loved every year when she put it up for Christmas, which is how I started making wreaths as a side hobby.
Finding a hobby
I always say the deployment is an opportunity to get involved in the things you have always dreamed of doing or becoming a part of. I started making wreaths because it made me joyful and happy. Not only that, but I was also good at what I did and I loved it! The first wreath I made was a Christmas one with the letter “M” to represent our last name…”Moore.” Okay, so I got the general idea from Pinterest of course, but the creative side of it all…was me…entirely. Making this wreath made my holidays so much easier! I was proud to be Mrs. Moore and had no problem bragging about it! I had so much fun being creative with making the first wreath that I made a few more, for spring, fall, and the following winter when he was home for Christmas this past year.
I encourage all milspouses to find a hobby during deployment. If you have always found candle making fascinating, then try it out! I mean why not right? What do you have to lose? Make your candles! If crocheting has always been an interest of yours then crochet! You may find to be therapeutic during deployment. It’s your hobby and it makes you smile and at the end of the day that is all that matters. Your happiness, your joy, and your sanity during deployment.
Having a career
Working kept me sane most days. Despite the shitty hours of having to be up around midnight, going to work made me feel productive and independent. It also helped me to be around my news team.
Everyone there knew I was a military wife and they knew Shawn was on a six-month deployment. So, they always checked in on me to make sure I was okay. In the words of my boss, “you’re family now so don’t ever feel like you have to be alone.”
And they were like my family. They were my work family. I enjoyed going into work and being around a group of people who shared the same background and passions as me. Stay active and stay working. Whether you are a barista at Starbucks or a Store Manager at Abercrombie & Fitch, stay working. I promise you it pays off, both emotionally and financially of course! Because what kind of a girl doesn’t like treating herself to a spa day or some sexy lingerie before your service member returns home!
Volunteering in my community
I honestly don’t know what I would have done without my milspouse volunteers. Getting involved with LINKS, Blue Star Families, and my husband’s unit was one of the best things I could have ever done while going through a deployment. I always felt supported by those I worked closely with for special events or gatherings. I volunteered my time as a Mentor with LINKS for Spouses and some of my other time with Blue Star Families as an Event Coordinator.
While doing this I not only made friends, but I also developed skills that benefit my professionalism. I learned how to manage my time better, I learned how to network, and I also learned basic computer software skills, which comes in handy working in the new broadcasting industry believe it or not.
For any military spouse out there who is about to go through their first deployment or second, I highly encourage volunteer work. My advice, get involved with your service member’s unit and see what help you can offer to the Deployment Readiness Coordinator. You’ll find doing this will not only encourage you but, it will help make the deployment go by a lot smoother. Find a way to always stay busy.
Below are the following links to the non-profit military organizations that are always looking for more volunteers.
Furthering my education
As a person who works in the news broadcasting industry, I wanted to learn more about news writing, producing, and reporting. So I enrolled in a Television and Studio Production class at Palomar College in San Marcos. While attending the class I also worked at a local news station in Kearny Mesa, a neighborhood close to downtown San Diego. Enrolling in class was probably the best decision I could have ever made. Not only did it fill my schedule three days a week, but I also obtained a lot of useful information, which will benefit me going forward in the news broadcasting industry.
I always felt productive working and going to class, which staying busy is key while going through a deployment. If you are about to go through another deployment or if you are about to experience the first one, use this time to learn a skill.
If you always wanted to learn computer graphics, real estate, or management, use this time to do it. You can never go wrong with furthering your knowledge and education. Now for some, going to school or taking a class may not be in a financial budget. That’s okay! There are other ways you can still learn a skill and still go to school without worrying about how you are going to pay.
One way is to talk to an advisor at your local base education center or someone that works on base with military families, perhaps your Deployment Readiness Coordinator (DRC). Ask them about tuition assistance and education. They will probably direct you to MySECO, which is a group that supports military spouses through education and career. This brings me to my second option, contact MySECO and ask to speak with an advisor about the MyCAA Scholarship. This scholarship is offered to all military spouses whose service members are grades E-1 through E-5. It covers Associate’s Degrees, Certifications, Credentials, and Licenses. If you want to know more about this scholarship I have attached a link to the MySECO website for more information.
I did not use the scholarship to cover my class. I paid a one-time fee out of pocket for my course, but I do plan on using MyCAA in the future, and I encourage you to do the same.
Before I knew it, with all the work I had been doing and had been involved in, six months went by and homecoming was around the corner. I remember sitting in a homecoming briefing with other spouses and family readiness let us know that we will most likely feel some nervousness of our service members returning home. At that moment, I couldn’t even imagine myself being nervous about Shawn coming home.
It wasn’t until a week out I started feeling nervous and overwhelmed! From trying to get everything perfectly organized and cleaned, to figuring out how I was going to create his “Welcome Home” sign, I was losing a majority of my shit! The most overwhelming part of getting ready for him to come back home was reorganizing the closet because all of my clothes and shoes had taken over his side. I guarantee a lot of milspouse can relate to that one!
His arrival day had finally come and I was excited, relieved, and yet overwhelmed. I hired a personal photographer to capture our moments. As the buses approached his unit, my heart started racing and tears started falling from my eyes.
One by one a Marine walked off the bus and each one greeted by their children, wives, moms, dads, and sisters. While holding my “Welcome Home” sign, I looked for Shawn in the crowd. Slowly but surely he came from behind me and grabbed me by the waist.
I wrapped my arms around his neck and he picked me up, held me tight, and kissed me on the cheek. Tears filled my eyes and fell down my cheeks like a waterfall. I finally had my husband back.
Six-and-a-half-months, 28 weeks, 197 days, 4,728 hours, and 283,680 minutes, was the length of time we spent separated. Yes, it was hard. Yes, I cried a lot. Yes, we got tired. But, we still made it work. Despite the hardships, we still loved each other through it all. How exactly did we make it? It’s simple.
- Effective communication
- Send care packages and gifts every month.
- We never went to bed angry
- We talked about the future
- We always said “I love you”
I hope my story encouraged and helped you…the milspouse reading this post. I hope the resources that I provided will be of support to you and your families. Lastly, no matter where you are or how you are feeling, always remember that you are not alone. The military spouse is a strong community. We are here for you! We are strong for you! #teammilspouse and feel free to share this post with your friends and other milspouses who need it.