Have You Been Through Deployment?


Areyoua spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, parent or sibling of a servicemember who has been or is currentlydeployed? If your answer is yes,then this(portions of it, if not all of it) will likely touch you.

You are not alone within your experiences or feelings.And sometimes the best feeling in the world is to know that you are not alone.

Jennifer's Letter

Editor's note: The following is the full text of a letter written by Jennifer Chaloux to her husband, Spc. Matthew Chaloux, a Georgia National Guardsman, who was deploying to Afghanistan for a year.

When you find out your husband/boyfriend is getting deployed, your world changes completely. The man you share your life with is leaving, and there is no guarantee he will come home. Days fly by quicker than you have ever known. They are consumed with nonstop picture and video-taking, hugs, kisses and sighs because reality is too close. We try to finish projects around the house and get a quick lesson on using power tools.

It's days on end trying not to cry too hard so you don't make him feel bad ... laying your head on his chest trying to memorize the sound of his heartbeat, the way he holds you, kisses you on the head, his laughter and his cologne. Holding his hand and not wanting to let go, not even for a second. A million kisses and hugs. Saying I love you 50 times a day and still questioning whether you have said it enough.

Doing the same paperwork six times over, knowing you'll have to do it again.

Having that conversation no one wants to have about injuries, death and his wishes if it happens. Spending the last week together attending going-away picnics and family events for the military families, the whole time seeing smiles that conceals heartache.

Watching families hug more than they probably have in a year, and children running around oblivious of the danger that awaits their father or mother. Having moments of laughter, and the next second reality hits and tears start to flow. Watching other families before they deploy, men holding their newborn babies knowing they will miss their first giggle, word, and wonder if they will know him when he gets home. Families taking pictures of everything, no matter how trivial.

Seeing mothers treating their 40-year-old as if he was a kid again, and she always will. Trying to memorize everyone's face and last name because when he calls he never uses their first name when he talks about them. Not being able to be there when they are promoted to show them and tell them how proud of them you are.

Attending a send-off ceremony and watching your husband and all the soldiers recite the Soldiers Creed, and feeling like you are the luckiest girl in the world to be married to a hero. Strong and proud they stand in perfect formation.

They are clearly disciplined and well-trained. It's a side of him I have never seen, and I thought I knew everything about him.

The last day together you fight back tears every second and wonder how you can just walk away from him. You watch families around you hugging and saying their good-byes. You feel numb and every emotion all at the same time.

You struggle to walk to your car and drive away without him, only to pull over moments later to breakdown.

Your home is just a house now. Everyday revolves around thinking about him, worrying and watching the clock to calculate what time it is half way around the world. You try to stay busy, but the stress doesn't go away. It's a roller coaster ride, and life won't let you get off.

Being alone some days is more comforting than forcing yourself to be in a good mood to have coffee with a friend. Friends struggle to say the right things to help, but feel helpless as well. It's an invisible barrier that separates even family.

Doing laundry and realizing there are none of his clothes to do, and wishing there was. Setting the table for four at dinner even if there are only three of us. Sleeping on the couch for weeks because you can't bear to sleep in your bed when he is on a cot, and it's just not the same without him next to you. Leaving his combat boots next to the front door because it comforts you, and they won't be moved until he is home.

Feeling guilty for enjoying a sunny day, a good movie or just a ride in the car. Avoiding phone calls because you just can't talk about it, again. "I'm fine" is never enough, but you can't make them understand no matter how hard you try. Alienating yourself so you don't have to fake a smile or conversation.

Wanting to just scream and yell until you have no voice left, and wiping away those endless tears. "Snapping out of it" will take a year. Bonding with Army wives you just met, and pouring your heart out because it's easier than telling your best friend.

Wondering if he will be the same person he was when he left and feel comfortable in his own home when he gets back. Feeling selfish for having a pity party when he has it a lot worse. Watching the news when you are told not to.

Knowing when we talk he will never tell me he had to dive under something to avoid getting hurt or he just came back from a mission that you didn't know he went on. Not knowing who you are at the end of the day because you can't be who you were without him.

The word "why" is the first word in everything you think about. No matter how hard you try, you're always thinking the worst case scenario. Wanting to sleep the whole next year because it's the only time you get a break from worrying. In reality sleep is only a couple hours here and there.

Avoiding your favorite CDs or TV shows that you enjoyed together because you have no one's hand to hold or arms to lay in. Wearing his clothes while he is gone and using a shirt with his cologne as a pillowcase to snuggle up to.

Trying to pray double-time, but feeling like a hypocrite because right now you would be angry with God if something happens. Walking around with a lump in your throat and a pit in your stomach for the next year. Saying "thank you, he's fine," because if you say too much you'll just cry, like you have done for the past four days. Truly feeling lost, scared and powerless every single day.

Just going through the motions of getting up, getting ready and going through your day clutching your phone in case he calls. When he does call you get an instant high just knowing he is okay, and trying not to forget to tell him about all things you did that day, but leaving the part out about screaming like a mad woman because the sink is leaking, your tire is going flat, the lawn needs mowing, bills need to be paid. When all is said and done, you're proud of the woman you are and you have a girly toolbox because you decorated your husband's tools with glitter and rhinestones.

Wanting people to understand most of the soldiers don't want to be there either. They want peace like all of us do. Wondering why almost every house you see doesn't have an American flag on it like after 9/11.

Wanting to tell all the people at an anti-war rally that they are there because they are free and have those rights because they live in a country protected by the military. That the people your husband encounters everyday would love to have a right to an education. When the worst happens they will want the soldiers to protect them. That every family and person who lost their life to the 9/11 attacks are being disrespected if we didn't fight back. Don't hate the war and the soldiers, hate the people who started the war.

Understanding the TRUE meaning of honor, pride, dedication and hero.

They are drivers in a convoy, infantry, mechanics, medics, doctors and nurses, and chaplains. Most of all, they are our husbands, wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. They have a job to do and a family to take care of.

That family not only consists of a spouse and kids, but your family as well.

Display the American flag, support our troops and never forget.

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