Tag Archive | military spouse

Deployment: A Family Affair

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As I wrote in my previous post for Blue Star Families, my father-in-law Nick suffered a massive heart attack and subsequently underwent a successful triple bypass surgery.  The initial grim prognosis triggered emergency leave, coordinated and paid for by the Red Cross, for Mark and his twin Matt.  For two weeks, the three of us were the “crisis management team” for the Mayor family: establishing the Nick Mayor Benefit Fund and online donation website, creating and updating our Facebook page, meeting with Nick’s employer and family lawyer, engaging the community and donors, and interfacing with the media to better advertise the fundraiser for the mounting medical bills.  We even organized a benefit event that was a success, considering it was planned in less than a week!  My mother-in-law, Jeanine, held the primary caregiver role, visiting and assisting Nick in the hospital every day.  She is now acting as his in-home nurse and is doing a fabulous job!  We each found our unique roles during this crisis and we couldn’t have gotten through it without working as a team.

Even with a “normal” deployment, it is healthiest for all involved if each party knows their roles.  I feel if the deployed servicemember is in a relationship but is unmarried, roles can be a little more complicated and feelings might get hurt easier.  During Mark’s first deployment (November 2011-April 2012), we were engaged and I understood that I didn’t have a “right” to information or being connected to anything “official.”  Matt was first point-of-contact (POC) for news, and their parents would’ve had the “right to know” before me.  (The military doesn’t care about unmarried significant others!)  But before the deployment began, I had already established open communication with both Jeanine and Matt.  When Mark was in the rollover accident in February 2012, for example, Matt contacted me and told me everything he knew.  Jeanine and I also talked and texted frequently.

Since Mark and I got married at the courthouse before this deployment, I am a military dependent and the first POC now.  However, the lines of communication are still open between his parents and myself, and I understand my responsibility of informing them of vital information.  At the same time, it is important to have boundaries and not be TOO communicative.  Whether the soldier is married or unmarried, feelings of jealousy could arise if one party (the soldier’s partner or parent) is under the impression they are not being properly informed.  As the married spouse, it is also important to know what is okay and not okay to share with your in-laws.  He may not want his parents to know when he is having a rough time, because that could cause them to worry more than is necessary.  However, each family will be different with these boundaries and that is only one example.

In the e-book Everyone Serves (downloadable for free HERE!), there are tips specifically for parents on pages 46 and 53 about handling their relationship and communication with their deployed child.  In many ways, deployment might be harder for the parents than for the spouse because 1) they aren’t as connected to official information, and 2) that tough soldier used to be their baby.  They remember holding him in their arms for the first time, helping him learn how to walk, seeing him off to school….and now that child is grown and holds a perilous job.  As spouses, we need to be a support to our in-laws and to make sure that they feel included in the deployment cycle as proud military parents.

~Malori~

Mark (near) and Matt working in the "Command and Operations Center (aka their parents' living room)

Mark (near) and Matt working in the “Command and Operations Center (aka their parents’ living room)

Army strong, Cav tough!

Army strong, Cav tough!

Nick with his sons and daughter-in-law :)

Nick with his sons and daughter-in-law :)

Saying goodbye at the airport...can't believe they are back in the 'Stan!

Saying goodbye at the airport…sometimes it was surreal being with them during what was supposed to be deployment time!

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.

Please click HERE to view my disclosure statement, in compliance with FTC guidelines.
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Blue Star Families: Everyone Serves Blog Series Premiere

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Welcome to the Blue Star Families deployment series!  Every week for the next five months, I and four other military spouse bloggers will be writing about our experiences with the deployment process in conjunction with the e-book Everyone Serves.  I’d first like to give a huge thank you to BSF for accepting me as a blogger and to my Army Wife Network colleagues for letting me know about this opportunity!  I’d also like to give a shout-out to the other military wives participating in this series: Jennifer, Jacey, Julie, and Reda.  Please check out their bios HERE!

Until a few years ago, I never thought I’d be an Army wife.  The military just wasn’t something familiar to me.  I was born and raised near Dallas, was homeschooled until college, and had a serious relationship with my violin, which I’ve played since three years of age.  The violin was my childhood passion, so I made the decision to pursue a degree in violin performance.  I graduated from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in 2009, returning to Texas because I got a desk job.  I got into a normal routine: working at the office, exercising (sometimes), paying my student loans on time, spending time with family and friends, reading, being a news junkie.  I was comfortable and settled….

…until I was introduced to the military.  Mark and I met online in March 2010, and a few weeks later, we met in person for a date.  He drove three hours to meet me, and that in itself was impressive!  However, I also was impressed by his intellect, his passion for our common beliefs, and his dedication to his job as an Army officer.  (Oh yes, small detail – his looks were quite striking as well!)  That first date led to many more, and a few months later, we knew that we had met “the one.”  We were engaged in December 2010, and this month (June 2013) we tied the knot at the courthouse.  Upon his return from deployment, we will have our church wedding and then ride happily into the sunset.

But, as we all know, military life is never that easy.  Deployment inevitably returns.  Lives are in danger.  Stress is a daily visitor.  The word “Afghanistan” pops out in the news like a neon sign.  But yet, we continue to live this life – not just in survival mode, but in thriving mode.  From the beginning of my military journey with Mark, I looked upon it as the biggest adventure of my life, as a unique opportunity to rise to its challenges.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve experienced moments of feeling completely overwhelmed – but at some point, there is a chance to coast down the other side of the mountain.

This, our second deployment, has just begun – and I have to say that saying goodbye the second time around is much harder than the first.  But what is exciting to me is this: I also have the chance to share my experiences so that others won’t feel alone in the tough times.  I have an opportunity to serve my country and fellow military spouses by opening up my heart through the passion I have for writing.  For that, I am truly honored and grateful.

~Malori~

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.

Please click HERE to read my disclosure statement, in compliance with FTC guidelines.

Army Wife Life

Most of you who read my blog on a regular basis (or know me in real life) probably have known about The Warrior’s deployment. (More on that another day!) After he got his official orders, he had many of his fellow officers and even commanders saying to him, “And WHY are you not getting married before deployment??” He broached the subject with me, we discussed it, and I mulled it over. I had to write out the pros and cons to this plan – and as I found, there were no cons. It was all positive!

So very soon before his deployment, we went to the county clerk’s office, got our marriage license, and made things official with the state! For all legal and military-related purposes, we are married! I want to stress that since we are Catholic, we DO understand and believe that in the eyes of God and the Church, we are still engaged, so living together is still “not kosher.” However, since he will be in Afghanistan for many months (and we will be getting “church married” swiftly after his return) that obviously isn’t possible anyway.

After that, I enrolled in DEERS/Tricare, got my DoD military dependent ID card, and got DoD decals on my car. So at this point, I can *officially* say I am an Army wife! :)

Many civilian friends and family may be shocked by this news (our parents certainly were at first!) but as I began telling my military wife contacts, I got reactions like “Oh yeah, my husband and I did the same thing!” and “I was wondering if you guys would end up doing that!” The Warrior’s co-workers and advisors also heartily approved. It just makes logical sense, and if I can be completely blunt, we did it for two reasons: 1) for financially-beneficial reasons, and 2) so I can be better connected during this deployment.
The financial reasons are numerous: separation pay, higher housing allowance, I can get on Tricare (health insurance), filing 2013 taxes together, etc. We also had the uncomfortable but necessary conversation about what will happen if he does not return from war: since we have been planning on marrying right after he returns, he wanted to make sure that if, God forbid, he is killed in action, that I am taken care of.

Regarding connectedness, those points are numerous as well. The first one that comes to mind is the fact that I am the first point of contact should ANYTHING bad happen to him. It gives me comfort that the military recognizes us as married and that I will know right away if anything is wrong. I also have access to benefits that non-married significant others do not have access to, such as DoD and USAA resources and job opportunities that target military spouses. Right after The Warrior returns, we’ll have our wedding, go on our honeymoon, and almost immediately move to his next assignment (out of state). I will, of course, need a job – so being able to connect with potential employers in that state as a spouse, several months before arriving, will give me the upper hand. And with my student loan debt, this is a VERY smart move.

After I became an Army wife, I began to realize just how expansive this life really is! It even felt overwhelming. However, I am SO glad that I can explore the official side of things now and get a grip on that. After all, learning how to live together and BE married is a huge task in itself, not to mention having a PCS (Permanent Change of Station) thrown into the mix! The less craziness at that time, the better.

So that is what’s been going on in my new Army wife life recently! :) If any of you are having trouble processing what I just told you, think of it this way: when two people get married, there’s the legal side and there’s the religious/ceremonial side. We just decided to separate the two parts, since it behooved our deployment situation!

I don’t want to be long-winded, but I have a couple more things to add. Since getting married, two military-related opportunities happened. First of all, I am the new Blog Assistant for the Army Wife Network! Being part of the core team has already been a fabulous experience and I am so thankful for these ladies. I am also looking forward to spreading the AWN message of positively empowering Army wives! The second opportunity just came up this week, and I am going to be a blogger for the organization Blue Star Families! It is a five month assignment, one post per week, and I will be focusing on everything deployment related. So, since I am gaining more professional visibility in the military wife world, I am going to start using The Warrior’s real (first) name in my posts. Please stay tuned for my first BSF post on Thursday! :)

~Malori~