Did you know that we come from a military family?
Our wonderful dad served in the National Guard for 35 Years. In that time, he served three tours (between 6-14 months each) in Costa Rica, Iraq, and Kuwait. Each deployment was extremely difficult for our family.
It was hard not to see our dad every day. It was hard to go through important events without him. Each day of his absence presented fresh emotional challenges for us to work through- bouts of sadness, anger, anxiety, fear, and even apathy.
Deployment never got easier, but there were things we did that helped us cope with the stress and sadness of being without our loved one for so long. And each of us coped differently. During one tour, I listened to music for hours every day, scribbled my frustrations in a journal, checked in periodically with the school counselor, and buried myself in extra-curricular activities.
During the most recent deployment, I called my mom frequently to check on her, and I took tons of videos of my kids for my dad and wrote him as often as possible. I also leaned heavily on God and my husband on days I struggled to cope.
Our mom held an incredible amount of stress on her shoulders as she took care of seven kids alone. Twice my siblings and I were all under one roof. But most recently, we were scattered across 4 states and 2 countries serving missions, having grandchildren, or leaving for college. Our mom dealt with a lot, but she leaned on eight things to help get her through the long deployment periods.
Advice For Military Families Coping Through a Period of Deployment:
1. Surround yourself with positive influences, whether family, friends, or co-workers.
2. Find joy in the journey! It’s ok to be sad, but it is important to also look for the good around you.
3. Stay busy and engaged in good things, such as serving others and working to improve yourself.
4. Stay as connected as you can with your military family member. They are having a difficult time too. (We’ve seen our parents do this during tours as they sent packages to each other. Mom would send Dad cookies, and he would send her flowers.)
5. Stay strong. We have to do a lot of things that we may not want to do but have to do.
6. Pray! Replace fear with faith.
7. For spouses: Make goals together, even with the distance.
8. Remember that this will pass! All tours eventually come to an end.
Thank you, Mom, for being strong! Thank you, members of our military, for protecting our country!
If you’re spending Valentine’s day away from your sweetheart, try out these ways to make the day special- despite the distance.