For military families, Deployment is a dirty word. It not only means our loved one will be leaving, first for weeks of training, then for months on end in Afghanistan or the surrounding area. It means they go to war.
But we don't think of those things when deployment is staring us in the face. Instead, we look at the positives. My friend, Missy, has a great approach. She recently posted a blog about finding 100 positive things about deployment. Here are ten of my favorites:
Spouses like both Missy and myself are practiced hands at finding survival strategies to get through it all. And laughter takes us a long way! It's what we do to make deployment easier for our husbands, too, not just ourselves. If we're handling life okay, they can focus on the job they were sent to do.
- The t.v.remote all to yourself
- What better way to reconnect with your spouse by not taking for granted a 3 minute phone call or a quick email waiting for you every morning. More is said in those quick moments than hours on a couch.
- Less Laundry
- It's a good way to find out who your friends are!
- The sleep number bed can be set at 45 on BOTH sides!
- More frequent coffee dates with my girlfriends.
- I get to see my boys be proud of their father.
- One last family vacation before he leaves.
- I get the boys all to myself.
Our base offered a pre-deployment briefing for kids - men and women in military uniform ran our kids through a pretend deployment line handing out donated goodies and giving them tours of airplanes and military vehicles. Each kid took a picture with their mom or dad who was about to deploy and the Family Support Center had them printed on big pillow cases so that each child could have a picture of their mom and dad to take with them to bed each night.
They also offered pre-deployment briefings for spouses. Ours weren't as much fun but we got to learn about the importance of powers-of-attorney and to hear about the process of notification if something goes wrong. A pre-deployment briefing is a good thing because we can ask some standard questions like Can we move out of base housing to go home and stay with family or If we have trouble with the car, who should we call? For our squadron, we handed out business cards with the name of our First Sergeant and the names of three spouses, myself and two senior NCO wives, and hoped to hell people would use them before things got too tough.
To help young kids understand the length of deployment, our squadron spouses handed out jars of M&M's with a prescription label affixed to them - Prescription for Deployment - take one pill daily, when jar is almost empty, it's time for Mom or Dad to come home. Of course, deployment return dates aren't alway set in stone, so we would warn moms and dads to have a few spare candies just in case the jar needed a little adjustment toward the end. Military families should always remain flexible. Not everyone wanted to use the jars, but for some families they became a good way to count down the days. Little kids have a really hard time with calendars.
For the spouses, we gave them the traditional Blue Star to hang in their windows so that neighbors could know that they had a loved one at war. A group of us got together and cut out felt stars of blue and backgrounds of white and red. We assembled the small banners and then hung them from a gold cord. Occasionally, you will see banners with more than one star; they generally belong to a parent that has sent more than one child to the theatre. If you have seen one with a gold star in the center, that means the loved one did not return alive. It's where the term Gold Star Mother comes from.
And, finally, we filled care packages. I remember doing it twice during that short deployment of six months... twice as a group that is. As a family, we sent them more often. Funny thing is that half the time, my husband didn't really need anymore but he would share with those that did. Not everyone has family to send care packages. Not every family can afford to do so - it costs $14.95 to mail a large Priority box to Afghanistan... and that's before you've paid for the stuff to fill it. For some of our young married troops, that could buy 1/2 a jumbo box of diapers for the baby; over a six month deployment, it adds up to a lot of baby diapers. Imagine deployment for a year or more, which is what most Army and Marine families have to face every couple of years.
And Netroots is taking it one step further this year, a step that makes me very proud to offer them my support. Your donation will help send care packages to wounded veterans. I can't think of a better way to transition from war to peace time than by helping our veterans here at home!
If you haven't already, please consider donating to this very worthy cause. If you have already donated, thank you so very much for caring! Can't donate but want to do something to help - then spread the word! You don't have to be a DailyKos member to help out this cause. Let your friends and family know about this fundraising effort and see if they are willing to give a little to help bring a smile to some faces that could use a boost of morale! I'll be checking those Facebook and Twitter links up above and I hope to see high numbers!