Before, or After?


I recently read an article in Stars & Stripes which discussed a legislative provision which would require some employers to give military spouses two weeks leave before a deployment:

Among them is a provision offered by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., which would provide a guaranteed two weeks leave for spouses, parents or children of deploying troops, to make sure they have time to say their goodbyes before the servicemembers depart for up to a year.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act military families can take some time for such farewells. But to qualify they must have worked for the same employer for more than a year, and the company must have at least 50 employees. That works against many military spouses, who frequently move and often find jobs with small businesses in their new neighborhoods.

Smith said the new language would ensure that all military families have the ability to take unpaid leave, allowing both the departing troops and the family left behind more peace of mind.

The provision has been lingering in the House for more than a year, but its inclusion in the authorization bill could make it a reality as early as this fall. However, the Senate still must agree to the idea before it can be signed into law.

So, let me pose a question or two....

Although the story is about legislation, my thoughts immediately drifted to what happens in my home pre and post deployment.Other than the recent deployment of my husband, which was very, very different from a "standard deployment" (for lack of a better term) past experience tells me that just before my husband leaves, he's home, but only in the physical sense. Before my husband left for Afghanistan, the bottom floor of our home was littered with gear which he seemed to pack, unpack and repack each and every day. He checked, double-checked and triple-checked his checklists. Santa really should hire him! His feet were firmly planted in America, but his mind was already in Afghanistan.

Now, I'll admit that I'm the kind of gal whose first instinct is to rush and make as many memories as possible before my husband leaves. A mini-vacation, something fun and out of the ordinary, sharing a decadent meal together in a magical setting. My husband actually prefers to stay in a reasonably standard routine. As I wrote not that long ago, I was shocked to find that I actually prefer having less than 24 hours to say good-bye. A rapid deployment took away all the fret that comes just before a lengthy separation occurs. I now know what it's like to anticipate a deployment, and what it's like to not have time to prepare for one. Mentally calculating the days and hours before my husband leaves is a rather depressing exercise for me. I'm slowly coming around to my husband's line of thinking...

I've said it a zillion times, but I'll say it once more - I think the homecoming rivals the separation in many ways. While you're so thankful to have your spouse home, reintegration can be difficult. It takes time. I totally understand that just before deployment, all of us know in the back of our minds that there's a slight possibility that these could be our last days together so I truly get why we want to spend as much time as possible with them, even if a part of them has mentally checked-out.

What happens in your house pre and post deployment? Those of you who have experienced multiple deployments/separations, have your pre and post deployment experiences varied? As with everything, we all have our personal preferences. What's yours? Tough question and all sorts of nuance would apply, but if you had to choose only one option, would you opt to spend more time together just before a deployment, or when your spouse returns? And why?

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