[Sarah liveblogging here] This post keeps growing, so check back and make sure you get all the info!
Molly Pitcher has "deployment gremlins": she found out she was pregnant two days after her husband deployed, he missed the birth, and she found out her new daughter has a heart condition...all alone. And then she had a water leak! She thinks blogging is a wonderful tool for dealing with emotional issues, but suggests you should be careful and semi-anonymous in this internet age.
AirForceWife says that laughter is the best way to with deployment. Her husband is deployed now and already knows there is another deployment on the horizon. Her husband is not deployed as part of a group, so she doesn't have the same types of support systems that an organized community has.
LoveMyTanker found blogs during the last deployment and says blogging helped her keep her sanity. It was an outlet for her to find support from people whom she didn't even know. They've been through three deployments so far, and all of them have been different. Resouces change, location changes, etc. She says you have to reach out to others, even if you don't know them.
RedLegMeg has three kids to keep her busy as she gears up for a deployment. She just arrived at her new duty station and is nervous to be a new face. She put her toe in the blogging water by commenting on other people's blogs. She recommends SpouseBUZZ as a positive forum to get started with.
And now on to the discussion...
A questioner: Two weeks into second deployment, last one was in Germany. Had support there, but got to Hood last year and feels she has to have an outlet because she's drowning. She feels she doesn't fit in -- over 40, has son over on Korea, this deployment was sprung on them -- and decided to come out to SpouseBUZZ. She says it helps to know she's not alone. The last deployment, the unit got extended. So in this deployment, she feels like she's distant, going through the motions, but she's ready to break that cycle. She says we all need each other to go through the emotional roller coaster and encourages us to be there for each other.
LoveMyTanker replies: No matter how old, how many kids, we have differences but we should give ourselves permission to be in whichever phase we're in. Get involved if you want, but give yourself permission to be a hermit crab for a little while if you need it.
Molly Pitcher replies: Some FRGs are great but others are disfunctional. But there is a deployment support group here on Hood. You can turn to MilitaryOneSource or your chaplain. Volunteering is a good way to meet people and get involved in groups. Get in your pajamas and cry your eyes out, but if you're doing that too often, you need to make a change.
AirForceWife: My husband is my husband, but he "belongs" to the unit. He came home but still felt a connection to the remaining servicemembers in Iraq. He wants to find a way to be there for the rest of the people he works with, and that was a lesson she needed to learn.
Ward Caroll from Military.com: Sometimes my wife liked it better when I was gone than when I was home! It's a journey for each family, but you have to create whatever it is that can make you happy. Maybe it can start with reading SpouseBUZZ? As for extensions, it feels like a breach of contract. You have agreed to make it to a certain point, and then that point gets moved!
Molly Pitcher: Don't get hooked on a date for redeployment because in this day and age they can be gone for any amount of time.
AirForceWife: And I cuss a lot! But I worry that other people think I'm crazy...
Ward brings up the media...
RedLegMeg: Her husband was in OIF I, so there was no communication. Different couples have different ways they prefer to communicate. Her husband hadn't called, but three days after she started freaking out, she realized he had moved to a different battery. The media was her savior because she had no communication from her husband.
LoveMyTanker: Was stationed in Germany, so had to rely on AFN. So she had to rely on the internet, which saved her life. In the most recent deployment, she shut the TV off. It was too depressing for her. The ticker on the bottom of the screen sent her right to the internet, and she became frantic. She needed a break.
AirForceWife: She was a reporter before her husband went into the Air Force. The newsroom is ugly! Two months into the deployment, she hadn't heard from her husband, and CNN cuts to footage of a dead soldier. She was freaked that it could've been her husband! CNN said that "it wasn't that bad."
A guest in the audience: Her husband just came back on a medevac from Afghanistan. She was hearing from him every day, unless there was a tragedy. They would cut off comms when something happened, but she was freaked when they started doing that. Her parents didn't understand why she wasn't hearing from her husband, but she's glad the media can't report deaths until family members know it.
AirForceWife: She was interviewed in her hometown paper and thought the interview went well, and the headline was "Wife has mixed feelings about deployment". She was so hurt that that was the headline because that wasn't the vibe she had put out at all.
Molly Pitcher: Avoids the TV but gets google updates. She looks at the time stamp! Make sure your contact info is updated with the unit so you can be found in case of an emergency.
A guest in the audience: Develop realistic attitude. These comms aren't necessarily always a good thing. Wives flip out when hubby doesn't call five times a day, but they're probably doing their job! She misses the paper letters from OIF I because now all she has is internet. She and her hubby set a schedule for phone calls for their family.
Molly Pitcher: Some people say, "My wife wasn't on IM when I expected her, so she must be cheating on me!" It cuts both ways.
Another guest in audience: Hubby called and said he's getting mortared on Christmas Eve! Phone cuts out. Next day phone cuts out again. She's getting nervous for next two weeks, scared because of the news on TV. Her POC called and said, "I have news but I don't want to tell you." Her heart drops. "Two people have been killed, but the names have not been released." Everyone hears from their husbands except for this guest, and she's so upset. And she was right in the middle of finals in her classes! With her cell phone on! She focused on scrapbooking, because she knew he had to come home if she made him a scrapbook. Finally he called after a month. And she demanded to get married when he gets home!
Ward brings up homecoming...
RedLegMeg: Standing in the rain trying to pick him out of the crowd in the gym. Her reintegration was smooth -- she didn't have R&R in OIF I and isn't sure how she feels about it in this next deployment -- but they clicked fine when hubby got home.
LoveMyTanker: Had one with a brand new baby; it was rough for hubby. The second, he came home to a wife who was a completely different person. She was older, life was different, and they had to get to know each other again. In the last one, they had more difficulty mid-deployment than at the beginning or end, so it's always different for everyone. The most important thing is to give yourselves permission to not just jump right in to the same family roles as before. It's a process. Some people don't like the official briefings; they may be saying the same thing, but you'll hear something different each time.
AirForceWife: Son was a baby when dad left, almost walking when dad got home. She was thwarting his walking so he would wait to walk when dad got home! Ha. They saw each other during the deployment and went running towards each other, and she fell! Hubby said, "Honey, I missed you so much..." Husband was used to driving in Baghdad, and he was a bit of a maniac at first. And he'd call out threats as if the kids were going to man the SAW in the backseat...
Molly Pitcher: I will be OK while you're gone, but I still need you when you get back. She tried to make her husband comfortable with returning. He was so comfortable that he was giving her breastfeeding advice when he knew nothing about breastfeeding!
On to panel three...