Should You Work During Deployment?


Wondering whether or not to work while your spouse is deployed? You are not the only one asking that question. Many MilSpouses are faced with a decision of how to spend the time while their military member is gone. The answer? It depends.

I was faced with this exact situation after PCSing to California. I left a great job and was going to start all over again in a new location ... you know, re-invent myself -- again. After unpacking my household goods, putting the pictures back on the walls, and getting the kids settled with school routines, I went back into the workforce.

Unfortunately this transition would be a bit different. Soon after moving and getting a job, my husband told me what I should have expected anyway: the timeline for his expected deployment would be moved up.

Of course, typical! We MilSpouses have learned to always be flexible. ‘Semper Gumby’ as my fellow Marine Spouses know!

Yet I did not think this situation would affect me as much as it did, after all I had been mentally preparing for the deployment/separation for some time. It was known that once stationed in California, my husband would go to Afghanistan for at least a year. We just did not realize how soon after we landed he would be going off.

As the weeks passed, the normal pre-deployment stress grew ... and grew ... into an abnormal stress high. I was actually having stomach pains over the stress. This to me was a sign.

With a transition to a new home state, two teen-age girls and a lengthy work commute, I was soon accepting the reality that being a geographic-single-parent, with my husband deploying, was going to be a little more than I could handle or even wanted to handle.  Something had to give!

Nothing was going to stop the husband from deploying and the girls are always going to need a mom. So, in order to relieve some excess stress, only one logical solution remained. The commute, and in turn the job, had to be eliminated from the stress equation. And after speaking with my husband and reviewing our finances, it was determined that we would be okay if and when I turned in a resignation. And so I did resign. In the end, not working was the best choice for our deployment situation.

But for other families, not working may not be an option. Whether due to financial situations or because you are the type of spouse that needs to work to keep busy or occupied during the deployment period, working during a deployment can be a wonderful experience. For some, working can be a necessity to stay sane for some during a deployment.

Regardless of which option works best for you, the decision of working or not working truly depends on each individual family’s situation. And if you do choose to work outside the home, please know that there are Federal regulations to accommodate military families during certain leave times. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides special rights to employees with family members in the military to take family leave under specific circumstances.  This is of particular interest to those families with military members with extended deployment tours.  For example in the case of a two-week R&R leave, an employee is permitted leave under the FMLA.Be sure to check with your Human Resources manager for your job to be sure you are covered.

How do you decide whether or not to work during deployment? Is it a stress relief or a stress causer for you? Let us know what you think.Wendy is a native of the Alexandria, VA, area and never thought she would marry into the military lifestyle ... until one day when she met the one man that would change her life in every way possible!  As a proud wife of a Marine, Wendy currently lives in California near Camp Pendleton. Being a wife, mother of two teen-age daughters, professional community manager, education volunteer and former diplomat, Wendy stays busy.  Now she finds time for her new passion of freelance writing while her hubby is deployed and is even endeavoring to write a book of her deployment experiences, both humorous and heartfelt. Along with writing, Wendy loves watching football, cooking, photography and yoga.

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