Why didn't you tell me that TDY (temporary duty) trips can be almost as challenging as deployment? Really?
Picture this: your service member comes home in the middle of the week and announces “Hey sweetie, next Tuesday I have to go TDY for a week.”
He tries to look apologetic. But you see the twinkle in his eye.
He shuffles his boots a bit and says, “Hawaii.”
While you both know the change of scenery will be a welcome reprieve for him, you secretly want to strangle him.
After THIS winter? Seriously? He gets to go to a place of warmth and sun while you are stuck at home (again) with the kids and the Weather Channel’s promise of another snowstorm??
Granted, he is going for work. It’s not like he will be hanging out on the beach, surfing, and sipping pina coladas (at least not the whole time). But still, he will not be here, helping you dig out from another “Snowpocalypse.”
Now he will have to miss your son’s Cub Scout Pinewood Derby race for the second year in a row--he was deployed this time last year.
So you smile and say, “Oh, that will be so nice for you.” Then you reach for the box of wine in the fridge.
TDY, or “Temporary Duty” trips are the military equivalent of business trips. They can last for just a single overnight, or they can last for months. Often, the trips are for conferences, trainings, and meetings that require physical presence rather than just using a “Go to Meeting” computer program.
While TDYs don't feature danger or long separation associated with deployment, there are similarities and there are things that we need to do to plan for them--like all the paperwork.
TDY trips often happen with little notice so they can still be disruptive. With a deployment, the family knows that the SM will be gone for birthdays and holidays and can plan accordingly. With an unexpected TDY trip, the SM may have to miss an event for which he had a major role to play like heading up a paintball team at a birthday party or coming to career day at school.
Horrible as it sounds (and we are being completely honest here) there is something comforting about knowing, during a deployment, that we are all “embracing the suck” together. While we are enduring at home, we know that our SM is enduring hardships as well.
Often, during TDY trips, we family members feel that our SM’s are off having a good time, going to eat at fun restaurants, reuniting with old friends and colleagues while we are stuck at home handling the daily routines without the benefit of our partner.
And if the TDY trip lasts longer than a week or so, we can begin to experience some of the same loneliness that we deal with during deployments.
I know, I know…it is irrational. The service member is NOT in a combat zone and it is only for a little while. But when it comes to getting the kids to do their homework or explaining why Daddy can’t be at your daughter’s dance recital, many of the same challenges emerge, don't they?
So, if you find yourself dreading your SM’s next TDY trip, don’t despair. You are in good company. Just because he is not in a dangerous area does not mean that you have to dismiss your concerns. It is still important to be prepared for emergencies. You may still feel lonely. Your kids may still act out due to the disruption in their lives.
But do try to keep things in perspective. Enjoy having control of the remote. Feel free to eat “deployment food” (cereal or chicken nuggets for dinner). Even if it seems like he is more on vacation than at work, welcome your service member home with loving arms, because as military spouses we never know when the next separation may come.
Sadie McCurry grew up as an Army “brat” and has been an Army spouse for nearly 20 years. She currently resides in the Washington D.C. area with her husband and their six active children. You can follow her on Twitter @Sadie_McCurry and on her blog.