Deployment Support in the Civilian World

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Many, if not most, military wives go through deployment living around others who totally “get it.” They live on post near other families in their unit, or they at least live in the vicinity of the installation where the military population is quite high. However, this is Mark’s second deployment and the second time that I’ve gone through deployment in a civilian setting. Since college graduation, I’ve been living at home with my parents and younger siblings so I could pay extra on my hefty student loans and not bring SO much debt into our marriage.

While being around family during a deployment is a great thing, it is also very different from living within a military community. They see what I go through, yet I understand and accept that they will never truly “get it.” So I have had to make an extra effort to gain military-related support during Mark’s tours of duty. For some this might be a daunting task, but because I love people it has been an adventure! For those who are a little more shy about meeting new people, reading blogs, books, and joining online communities is a good start. (A great resource is Everyone Serves: A Handbook for Family & Friends of Service Members.) Recently I found a Meetup group called the DFW Military Wives, Fiancees, and Girlfriends Network. They have events in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex for military families from all branches! Sometimes the get-togethers are as simple as having finger foods, cracking open a bottle of wine, and chatting for hours on end. But doing that is so comforting for a military wife’s heart! The other ladies can understand exactly what you are experiencing and can give advice on how to deal with difficult situations. I also began this blog during Mark’s first deployment and am now the Blog Assistant Coordinator for the Army Wife Network‘s Loving a Soldier blog as well.

Deployment is also an opportune time to improve myself and accomplish important goals. The first time around, my general goal was to find extra work and make more money to pay off a large chunk of student loans. In those five months (November 2011-April 2012), I paid off over $12,000 in debt (which included paying off my car)! During this deployment, I wanted to be more specific and varied with my goals. They include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Finish saving for our church ceremony and wedding reception (DONE!)
  • Reduce my student loan debt to $55,000 (which entails continuing to do extra work…after college graduation 4 years ago, I had $140,000 in debt)
  • Read 1-2 personal/career development books per month
  • Connect with at least 2 friends per month
  • Blog 2-3 times per week
  • Take 10 Krav Maga self-defense classes
  • And of course, actually set a date and PLAN our wedding so we can have it very soon after he returns!

Everyone Serves elaborates on how to cultivate a healthy level of self-care, on pages 56-63. Spending time with friends is something I needed to actually schedule this time. I have a tendency during deployment to work until I am burned out, so I learned the hard way that it is important to just chill out sometimes. I also gain strength from my faith and prayer. What happens to Mark during deployment is totally out of my control, and so my faith sustains me when times get rough. I also make sure to recognize that what I CAN control are my own actions and goals, and I focus on improving myself each day.

~Malori~

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Last Friday (8/9/13), I toured the George W. Bush Presidential Library with my friends Ashley and Carolyn. It was great!

Follow Blue Star Families on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and build a support network so you can keep your family and personal community strong throughout the duration of the entire deployment life cycle.

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8 thoughts on “Deployment Support in the Civilian World

  1. Malori,

    Seriously, how on earth did it take this long to meet when we are living parallel lives? I’m a remote wife too, in Houston, going on seven years now. You’re so right, for us “geo-batch” families, you have to be proactive about finding military connections. For me, MSJDN is a huge connection in that regard. We usually have to connect online because we are everywhere, but that makes the times we actually get to meet in person all the sweeter.

    You’ve now inspired me to see if there’s a Meet Up group here too. If not, maybe someone should start one… :)

    • Wow, 7 years! You are a pro! :) And you should totally start a military wives Meet-Up group if there isn’t one there! The DFW group actually might be doing a horseback riding event pretty soon, I can’t wait – I love horses and I’ve always wanted to ride! It is through a group that does free events for veterans and their families, not sure yet who they are.

  2. I didn’t live in a military community for Tom’s first deployment either. It does have it’s challenges to be around people who don’t “get it” but at the same time it does have its advantages. Sometimes it was nice to not be reminded about the military and be removed from the reminders. Although, I know that there were many days that it was a struggle to put into words to those around me how hard things were, and at times I would get so upset with people for not understanding and sympathizing. I started my blog for a way to release that and have a community still in the Army even being a transplant. Sounds like that is how a lot of us got started!

    • Yep, this blog has been such a great outlet for me, and it’s been great getting to meet people such as yourselves through the blogosphere and online groups! Thank you for stopping by! :)

  3. This is the first deployment I have not made a list of things I want to do. I mean I have a general idea such as paying down debt and organizing my house but other than that I just haven’t felt like it. Maybe I should work on making one soon :)

    Right now I am in a Military community but only one of my closest friends have a deployed spouse which is hard. I am not sure if I will meet someone else who does that I can really click with. I hope so. I have found deployments to be much easier when I have battle buddies of my own to go through them with.

  4. Being guard, the lack of military community during deployments is such an issue. I rely heavily on social media to keep me in touch with friends. This next deployment is going to be harder having two kids now, but so glad you posted this. :)

    • Thanks for commenting and bringing up the Guard topic. I actually thought specifically about our Guard and Reserve families as I was writing this, since being in a civilian community is more of the norm for you guys during a deployment! So even though Mark is AD, I can totally relate. :)

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