Where to Find Help When You Need It

The military provides mental health services in many different forms. Here are some popular sources to find help when life gets hard and need extra support.

Military Life is hard, and we all need some help from time to time. And as much as we hate to admit it, we can’t always do it on our own. But sometimes we need a little bit more help than even a friend, neighbor, or family member can give us. And that is OK. It doesn’t make us broken, damaged, or any other negative idea we get about people who seek counseling. It can be hard to find help when we need it.

Know It’s Ok to Seek Help

Sometimes we exhaust all our coping strategies, self care just isn’t working and we need a little extra support. It is not a sign of weakness, but knowing when you’ve hit your limit can be a sign of strength.

The military has improved the services to meet the mental health needs of service members and families. However, these services are often not publicized. So few people know where to find help when they want/need it.

Where to Find Help:

1. Military Family Life Consultants (MFLCs)

MFLCs are social workers and licensed counselors contracted by the military to provide free, 100% confidential counseling services. They are equipped to handle individual counseling, counseling for children, family counseling, and marriage counseling. If you are looking for them they are housed by ACS. Military One Click recently published an article about what it is like to talk to a MFLC. Hopefully that will help demystify the process.

2. Family Life Chaplains

Most soldiers know that chaplains have 100% confidentiality as well, but are hesitant to seek out help from their unit chaplains because often their offices are very close to the commander’s office and so they may be seen going to and from appointments. Service Members worry that the chaplains are not equipped to do formal counseling, pushing religion down their throats. Most chaplains only have a course or two in counseling during their seminary. Family life Chaplains have degree in counseling. Their sole responsibility is to provide marriage and family counseling services. While yes, they are chaplains they are not there to necessarily provide Christian counseling. I have worked with the family life chaplain’s office at two different posts and provided services through them.

3. Military One Source

If you are looking for other resources, providers that are outside of the military post you can go to Militaryonesource.mil and click on Confidential Help and they have options for face-to-face counseling, online counseling, phone counseling, or video counseling. While I have no personal experience with using this resource I know many people who have had lots of success using these services.

4. Behavioral Health

This is service members least favorite option. The reason this is that since it provided through Tricare, commanders know when you are receiving services here. Service Members can be mandated such as ASAP (alcohol or substance abuse program) or PTSD treatment.

The next time a friend or fellow MilSpouse is suffering, hopefully you will be able to share resources with them. Nobody should have to go it alone, just because they are unaware of the resources available.

The military provides mental health services in many different forms. Here are some popular sources to find help when life gets hard and need extra support.

Plugging into a New MilSpouse Community

Finding a community is a crucial part of making a new duty station feel like home. Here are my tips for plugging into a new MilSpouse Community.

A few weeks ago I shared about the loneliness you can feel when you don’t have a military spouse community around you. But since then I have moved to an area that has a strong military presence (on Hawaii all five branches of the military are represented), and I will be here for a while. It is really important for me to find a community here since my husband will be gone and we will be having our first baby while I am there.

But it really takes intentionality to get plugged into a new community. This intentionality happens before you arrive at your new location and then continues when you arrive.

Before you Arrive:

As soon as I knew I was going to be in Hawaii I went looking on Facebook for their spouse pages and groups that I could join. I went and found their PWOC page, MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers), Stroller Warriors. By joining these pages early I can see what activities they engage in and can begin to plan how to engage with them when I arrive. I was part of PWOC at Ft. Benning, so I knew I wanted to be part of it again. It was such a supportive community and I knew I would need that when I arrived.

MOPS is a new group to me. It is important to me to find a group and community for our little one to be socialized in when she arrives. Stroller Warriors is also a new one to me, but I heard such wonderful things about Stroller Strong Moms at Ft. Benning. This can a fantastic way to stay active after baby.

More than just Military groups, I also joined more general Facebook groups like the Baby Wearing group and La Leche League of Hawaii. I thought these would be important for finding mom community as well when my little one arrives.

By doing my research ahead of time and knowing when these groups meet, I can look for events that I can attend once I arrive. For example, I found that the USO is hosting a What to Expect Shower for all expectant moms right after I arrive and I could register. This helps me be accountable to make it out of my parents’ house!

After Arrival:

After I got here I immediately plunged into the community. Like the USO event I mentioned above, registering before I arrived helped me stay accountable to attend. I could meet women who are in the same place in life as me.

It is not enough to just join the Facebook Groups/Pages and hope that community will find you that way. You must get out of your house and go to the events. I am quite an extraverted situation, but I much prefer to go to new places armed with at least one friend already. This is not always a possibility. Even though I have friends in Hawaii, it will be totally different when I am there for an entire year. Yes, my family is there, but they all work full time, and I will have lots of time on my hands during the day.

Because I am an extroverted person, I know I get down when I am lacking friends and support. This will get me out of the house during the week! So I got out of the house and participated!

Why it is Important:

If ya’ll have been following my blog for a while you know my opinions on the importance of community. Without the community I developed at Ft. Benning moving would have been a nightmare. The ladies I knew there really came together to support me and make sure I could get it all done! They let me stay with them, help me clean up, and give me encouragement I needed to succeed. I know I am going to need this community aspect in Hawaii too.

Finding a community is a crucial part of making a new duty station feel like home. Here are my tips for plugging into a new MilSpouse Community.

Always on the Move: Lo & Sons Luggage Review

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links

Let’s get honest right now, traveling with the military is no joke. And if we had enough suitcases to take all of our belongings with us they would need their own room, and that just is not feasible anywhere! That is why I am here to share my luggage review of Lo & Sons!

Our luggage goes through the ringer- moving trucks, whole families + pets in the car, rough handling by the airlines. This summer alone I have spent my weeks crisscrossing the state of South Carolina just to see everyone before we leave the country for the year! And I want to tell you about my new wonderful travel bag!

Quality luggage is important to me, as someone who travels so frequently I always find it such a waste when I buy a suitcase of a duffel bag and it only lasts a few trips before it falls apart. I have had Vera Bradley duffel bags that have had the handles ripped when handled to roughly when checked on the airplane. I have had suitcases where the lining rips almost immediately; where wheels stop spinning, or handles are broken. And I know I am not alone in this.

I recently discovered Lo & Son’s luggage. I have the Catalina Weekender bag, and let me tell you it has held up to four airplane trips and numerous road trips over the last several months! I received this stylish canvas weekender bag in April. And I have not been disappointed. The first trip I took with it I was packing for nearly two weeks! And it fit everything (plus several unnecessary pairs of shoes)! For a weekender bag, I thought that was pretty good!

Here are some photos from my last 2 week trip I packed into my weekender:

I was able to fit all my toiletries, makeup, three pairs of shoes, 3 dresses, 4 shorts, 1 pair of pants, a skirt, mix and match tops for it all plus 2 pairs of PJs, gym clothes, & my bathing suit!!

It also made a wonderful carry-on bag. Since it is canvas it is soft sides make it easy to squeeze into even full overhead compartments!  The cross body strap made it easy to carry through the airport! Even for this preggo momma.

Why I love this bag?

  • The bottom compartment for shoes and toiletries. I love that I don’t have to keep my shoes or potentially exploding toiletries with my clothes.
  • Outside pocket for easy access. It has a great outside pocket that I can slip my phone charger into as I am walking out the door. Then I can easily slip it out in the airport.
  • Heavy duty canvas makes it super durable. I know I am not the kindest to my luggage between trying to squeeze it into overhead compartments or just throwing it into the car with all the dog supplies the stitching and canvas have proven to be extremely durable.
  • I love the beautiful blue color! It is a is dark so it doesn’t show a lot of dirt! Which is excellent.
  • I love that when I am not using it, it folds flat completely making it extremely easy to store! This is super important for me because I may not always have a lot of room to store extra luggage!

This bag is great for military families because it extremely durable, can fit two weeks’ worth of clothes in it so it’s perfect if having to drive cross country without and laundry facilities or if you’re flying home for the weekend to visit family. If you’re interested in checking out their full line of bags and suitcases check them out here!

When you're always on the move a great suitcase is a Must Have Item! Here is my luggage Review of Lo & Son's duffle bag! A necessity for MilSO's on the Go!

I received the Catalina Weekender bag as compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

When you Can’t Find a MilSpouse Community

Sometimes its as MilSpouses we are in locations where it can be harder to find a community. Here are some ways to engage when you can't find your community

As many of ya’ll saw a few weeks ago, we are currently in a weird in-between stations situation. I was so excited to be coming home for a few months before I left for year. It would be the perfect opportunity to see all my friends and family again before we left for who knows how long! And it truly has been great in that capacity. I have been able to see old friends, college roommates, extended family, and spend a lot of time with my in-laws. But something is definitely missing. The thing that has been missing is my ability to get involved in a military spouse community.

While we have been living on a military post, I was here for such a short period of time, less than 3 months it was hard to get involved. Furthermore, since my husband is here for a TDY, there are no other spouses here in the same unit as my husband. To top it off summer time is generally the time of year that everything slows down because people are traveling, kids are out of school and so programs break for the summer. So I am sitting in this lull and don’t have much of a community around that understands the ins and outs of military life.

I’ve always understood and valued community. I have even written about it quite a bit. But until recently I never understood just how important community in your own walk of life really is.

As you may have read a couple weeks ago, we are going through the pre-deployment process, and it has been a bit stressful. To top it off, as I watch the days and weeks tick by on my pregnancy tracker, its just days closer to D-Day. Something I am definitely not ready for. At my baby shower so many people asked if I was excited. And its then that I realized the answer to that question was so complicated. Of course, I am beyond excited about this baby and becoming a mom. It is something I dreamed about for a long time. But, I am not excited for the hubby to leave, to not be here for the end of the pregnancy, the birth, and much of baby’s first year. I wanted so badly to explain all of that, but I realized as I started into my explanation that none of them would truly understand the duplicity with which my heart split.

I quickly texted one of my closest friends from Ft. Benning, but sympathizing via text can definitely not take the place an in person Starbucks date on a bad day. So what do you do when you find yourself at an assignment that isn’t in a military heavy area? Where do you go to find that support?

Here are my top places to find support from the military spouse community when it isn’t local:

  1. Facebook: There are so many great Facebook Community and Support groups out there right now. Julie from Soldier’s Wife, Crazy life; and Lauren from Military Wife & Mom have formed large networks of support for military spouses of all branches, ranks, genders, locations. These have been super encouraging to many.
  2. Find just one person, a guard or reservist, a retired spouse. Having just one person can make all the difference, someone who has been there. And you are more likely to find them in non-military towns because they don’t necessarily have to be anywhere near a base.
  3. Phones are awesome. Pick up the phone and call a friend from a previous duty station. It isn’t always the same but I know from experience that just talking to a friend can make me feel better. I can get my frustrations out, cry, yell whatever and still be heard by someone who understands.
  4. And when all else fails, don’t discount the importance of friendships with everyone. While yes my friends who aren’t married to the military may not understand the complexities of military life they understand disappointment, sadness, guilt. Those are human emotions, not exclusive to military spouses and so they can empathize with the emotions if they can’t with our situations. They have been my biggest support this summer, during this transition and I couldn’t do it without them.

So no matter where you are and what situation your find yourself, any community is better than no community.

Sometimes its as MilSpouses we are in locations where it can be harder to find a community. Here are some ways to engage when you can't find your community

I am a Selfish Spouse but its Ok

I am a selfish spouse, and that's ok! Having feelings of jealousy before your spouse leaves is normal. Figuring it out is a bit more difficult.

As a military wife, we know our time with our spouses can be precious. Especially as they are gearing up for a really long TDY, Deployment, or Unaccompanied Assignment. The pre-deployment period can be difficult. One emotion I was not prepared for was jealousy, and the desire to be a selfish spouse. Stealing him away for the remaining time we had together.

How am I a selfish spouse

I know I am not the only my husband is saying goodbye to over the next couple weeks. He has to say goodbye to his parents, brothers, and friends. And I don’t want to rob him of that opportunity. Except somewhere in my heart I do. I want to hide him away and keep him all to myself! That is why I am a selfish spouse.

Am I going to do that? Absolutely not! I want him to experience all of his last few weeks. Not just me! I want him to go to one last Ju Jitsu saturday with his brother. I want him to get another weekend at home with his mom and dad. I want him to get one last Howrah with all his friends! I only want all those good things for him. I don’t want him to regret not getting to say goodbye to everyone!

And while I can certainly encourage him to do all those things, he can sense the hesitancy in my voice. Would I love one more Saturday morning breakfast out, one more Friday night at home, one more weekend away? I absolutely would! But not at the expense of everyone else!

Owning My feelings

Before I was able to put words to identifying this desire for selfishness it was coming through in my interactions with my husband. I could tell he was feeling tense and insecure about his decisions to finish out his ju jitsu lessons, spending time with his brothers, making a trip to see his grandparents. Even though I was telling him it was ok, he could hear it in my voice.

It took me a while to be able to identify that I was jealous of these other things he had going on in his life. But life can’t stop. I didn’t stop my life just because we are preparing to leave. Why would it be fair of me to ask him to stop his life? That’s right, it isn’t. And so I won’t.

But knowing what exactly I am feeling rather than just being emotional has made it easier for us to communicate it. When he can hear the hesitancy in my voice I can look inside myself, and ask where it’s coming from. Is it that jealousy? Most likely yes, and if it is then I can assure him that it is more than ok for him to go do whatever it is. I can encourage him.

It’s Ok

See so its ok to have any emotion, but until I owned it and identified it it was causing conflict in my relationship. It is not wrong of my to be a selfish spouse, wanting to steal away all his remaining time. Taking the time to examine my thoughts and beliefs to identify the emotions I was feeling was important.

It wasn’t exactly a fun process, no one likes admitting to negative feelings. But here are some steps you can take to try and identify the concrete emotions behind your behavior, even when you might be tempted to ignore them.

How to Identify You Emotions

  1. When you begin to feel overwhelmed by an emotion take an account of the situation. What is happening? what happened just before? Taking an inventory of the situation can help you identify the triggers for the emotion. Knowing the trigger can help in identifying your emotions because different events are likely to bring up certain emotions. I read online that watching her husband pack for a short TDY brought up a lot of negative feelings because it reminded her of her husband’s departure from a previous deployment.
  2. Think back to other times you have felt this way. One clue to me that I was feeling jealous is that it was very reminiscent of feelings I had shortly after he left for Ft. Benning while i was still in school. When he would come visit, we would spend so much time with his parents, hardly getting time to ourselves. I was jealous wanting that time for just ourselves.
  3. Don’t be afraid to admit your emotions. I know it can be scary to feel big emotions. Trust me as a counselor I know its not easy owning your feelings, especially when those feelings leave you feeling insecure. But the only way your feelings can be validated is if you admit them, and stop hiding them. When I finally told my hubby why I was hesitant and that I was feeling like a selfish spouse, he could tell me that it was ok. That he wanted as much of that time he had left just for the two of us too. (this is especially important, because it will never be just the two of us again. Next time we are together we will be a family of three!)

Know that if you’re afraid to admit your emotions it is normal. There is nothing wrong with you. And if you’re not very good at identifying your emotions, that is ok too. It isn’t easy and we aren’t born knowing how. It takes practice and we can only get better at it by doing so.

I am a selfish spouse, and that's ok! Having feelings of jealousy before your spouse leaves is normal. Figuring it out is a bit more difficult.

How do you Handle Pre-Deployment Emotions

Gearing up for a deployment can be tough emotionally, but this period often gets skipped over. We talk about the actual deployment, we talk about homecoming. But what about the rough days and weeks leading up to the deployment. If you are beginning to feel isolated and alone, you are not alone! Here are some tips on handling those pre-deployment emotions.

When I was in graduate school working on my counseling degree, I was pretty sure I was going to marry my current boyfriend (And I did a semester before I finished school). And so knowing that I was going to be a military spouse I took the opportunity to do as many as my research projects on different aspects of military family life as my professors would let me do. One project was on the effects of the deployment cycle on military families. One area that was woefully low on research was the pre-deployment part of the cycle. Well now that I am no longer in school and in the midst of military life I wanted to share what I found, and how it has helped me during this period of pre-deployment for me and my husband.

We all know that deployments are emotionally intense for military SOs! But what is talked about less is the emotional strain that comes with the pre-deployment period.

There are several things that make the pre-deployment period emotionally difficult for a couple. The first is that before our spouse even deploys they begin to build up emotional walls that are necessary during deployments, and in all honestly, we do too. The second is when we play games thinking that it will make it easier to say goodbye. We want to spend as much time together as we can, but maybe family wants to come visit before he leaves. Or, the Military is claiming much of their time with TDYs and other trainings that are required before they ship out.

If you have children this time can be even more confusing and difficult to navigate. Younger children may sense the tension in the home, but may not understand the impending separation. When children are older they may have a similar reaction by withdrawing from the soon to be gone parent. They may act out in protest of their parent’s leaning.

Why Pre-Deployment Phase is Hard

The pre-deployment period is difficult because we are preparing to be by ourselves. Our spouse is preparing to leave and be placed in potentially hazardous situations. Because of this, we begin to shut ourselves down emotionally before we even get to the deployment.

We might also begin to pick fights with one another the closer we get to the deployment, believing it will be easier to say goodbye to one another if we are mad at each other. So, we pick fights over silly little nothings, or maybe over important things that come with a separation.

What can I do?

So with all these emotions running high, how can we make the most of our last few days or weeks with our soon to be deploying spouse?

First, don’t ignore your emotions! Sometimes as military spouses we get caught in the trap believing that we aren’t supposed to be upset or sad when they leave because this is their job and we know that. We are supposed to put on our big girl panties and figure it out, no sadness in our hearts. That just is not true. Anybody would be sad that their spouse is leaving for an unknown amount of time.  So, acknowledge your sad feelings, tell your spouse, find a good friend to vent to. If we stop pretending not to be sad, we will be less likely to play games. We won’t pick fights with our spouse just to make it easier to say goodbye.

Understand that them becoming more and more closed off as the departure date approaches is normal, and a survival tool for them down range. When deployed it is hard for soldiers to keep family in the forefront of their minds because emotions can compromise the mission. As “good” military spouses we know that its mission first. But also shutting down emotionally doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process that takes weeks, and so it happens before they even leave home. More than allowing them to put the mission first, shutting down emotionally is a survival mode instinct for them.

As much as we hate leaving, and as much as they say they want to deploy, rarely do they want to leave us behind. The emotional disconnection helps make that process easier for them. And in reality, we do it too. We begin doing more and more around the house ourselves. Asking for less help with the kids. So it just looks a little but different.

When we know it happens we are less likely to take their emotional shut down personally. It creates fewer fights and less tension in the home. After going through many deployments we might begin to pick up this pattern, but what if we didn’t have to struggle so much to figure it out? That is why we share our experiences with other spouses and friends. Trust me I know it is hard when it feels like right before they are leaving they want so little to do with us and we want nothing more than to be even closer to them as the date gets closer and closer.

So if your spouse is gearing up for a deployment like mine is then hopefully my insights might provide just a little bit of clarity into why things aren’t what you expected. Why he is withdrawing more and more, and why there seem to be more tension. By using this information to your advantage maybe you can just savor those last few sweet minutes before D-Day approaches.

 

Gearing up for a deployment can be tough emotionally, but this period often gets skipped over. We talk about the actual deployment, we talk about homecoming. But what about the rough days and weeks leading up to the deployment. If you are beginning to feel isolated and alone, you are not alone! Here are some tips on handling those pre-deployment emotions.

How did you decide when to tell kids about Deployment?

There are two lines of thoughts when it comes to telling children about an upcoming deployment: (1) immediately, as soon as you find out so they have a long time to prepare; or (2) wait until just a couple weeks out to reduce concern and worry in the children?

Neither one of these way are the right or wrong. Each family is different and each family is different and we all  have to do what is right for our own family. But this can be difficult, what if our friends disagree and let it be known publicly?

Here are some Pro’s & Con’s of each:

As with many things the age and development of the children plays a huge role when deciding how and when to tell children that their parent is deploying. Toddlers might not understand and so it is difficult to tell them too far in advance, because they just don’t have the developmental ability to comprehend and remember that.

School aged kids and teenagers (especially those who have been through a deployment before) will be able to notice the signs of beginning of the pre-deployment cycle. Things such as frequent training, gear vomit, and tense/anxious parents are all warning signs. Because they will be able to sense that something is happening, they will not appreciate being deceived.

You also have to take into account that units typically deploy together. Chances are someone else knows they are leaving soon and you don’t want someone else to spill the beans. Especially because others might tell their children right away and as we all know children have no filters!

So how have you done it? If your spouse has never deployed how do you think you would handle it? Let me know it the comments, and join the debate!

“Dan Anton: America’s Military Vet Turned Successful Entrepreneur”

Military Service is a respectable job, but sometimes when a veteran leaves the service they can struggle to find meaningful work in the civilian sector. Read Dan's story of how he is working to fix that.

*This is a sponsored post written by Cait over at Cait’s Cozy Corner

Military service is difficult, demanding and dangerous. But returning to civilian life also poses challenges for the men and women who have served in the armed forces. Challenges for some but success for others. I want to share a successful story of one military vet in particular named Dan Anton. Why is Dan important?  His story is of duty and embodying the strength of what military men and women are all about. He’s able to adapt to his surrounding and overcome public and private challenges that come his way.

Image: RankCrew

Dan currently runs RankCrew, a successful and well established business and manages a team of software developers and marketing specialist. His services and products are used by thousands of businesses each and every day and as a byproduct, he has successfully become a multi-millionaire. Of course, his success didn’t happen overnight of course.

Dan is the oldest of three boys and grew up in Neptune, New Jersey. His father installed a work ethic that resembled an obsession which manifested as Dan began loving boxing and became a Junior Olympic Boxing Champion of the New York and New Jersey area. Dan’s father decided to pull his son out of boxing however after several big blows to the head began to take place. Instead of boxing he decided to channel his creative problem solving elsewhere.

Dan, Matt’s younger brother began explaining how he had discovered a large community of individuals online who were searching for video games in large forums and they were going to be paying for his convenience to finding the game buying it and then shipping it directly to them. In other words, Dan had just discovered the basics of arbitrage, buy low, sell high and then find a market. He began to buy video games from local stores and sell them online with a markup. This spun off into finding popular games like World of Warcraft which was on popular demand for people all across the country. Although he wasn’t making a ton of money with these, he was making thousands of dollars and for a part time high-schooler, it was all he needed.

After the Twin Towers fell, Dan wanted to sign up among his fellow American’s to help protect our country. He felt an overwhelming sense of protecting the innocent and bringing justice to those that attacked America. Putting his career on hold as an internet entrepreneur and enlisting to go to basic training, Dan graduated with honors from Montclair State University. He was a natural leader and went on to Officer Candidate School and then becoming a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army.

Image: Dan Anton

With Dan now starting his first deployment in Iraq, he called his father after his convoy was hit by a series of IEDs and his friend Salie was killed in combat. The story was so compelling that Dan and his unit were featured in a book; The Gods Of Diyala by Caleb S. Cage and Gregory M. Tomlin. His story is one that several individuals resonated with.

After his first deployment was finished, Dan began to get interested again in internet marketing. In 2006 he began chatting with his brother Matt about building a social network for gamers which was similar to MySpace at the time. He wanted to take risks and while other networks received funding or had a large team, the two-man operation relied on learning every aspect of internet marketing there was including SEO, Social Media, PPC and Email Marketing. He actually ended up turning into a full time business by accident.

With Dan’s Computer Science background, he began seeing inefficiencies in repetitive human-based tasks and began to develop software to help assist in the process of increasing the ranks in Yahoo, Bing and Google. The military experience has taught him the importance of detail which made it simple and useful when it came to effective software. He felt comfortable in this new career path and knew he would be able to make a difference with everyone around the country.

Thanks to the success and help with his family and friends, RankCrew is now an extremely successful company and it all started almost by accident! We can’t thank the brave woman and men that continue to serve and put on their uniforms everyday, and to those that have transitioned the freedom to their own path of success and excellence.

Military Service is a respectable job, but sometimes when a veteran leaves the service they can struggle to find meaningful work in the civilian sector. Read Dan's story of how he is working to fix that.


If you liked this then be sure to check out more of Cait over at Cait’s Cozy Corner!

Cait writes over at Cait’s Cozy Corner! She shares stories of fashion, food, fitness and her growing family of four! There isn’t a coffee she hasn’t loved, a place traveled overseas she doesn’t share fond memories about and sometimes admits to having a shopping problem. Come over and say hi!

When Hotel Living is not as Romantic as you Expected

Hotel Living may sound roamntic, but when you stop to think about it, it definitely has its downsides!

As some of ya’ll know I am also a monthly contributor to the Army Wife Network. This week I wrote about the struggles of living long term in a hotel (without a kitchenette- so it’s definitely not a hotel design for extended stays).  When we found out he was going to have a TDY to Fort Jackson, we were a bit excited because this home for us. His parents are about 45 minutes away, I grew up just over an hour away. So it was a no brainer that I would come with him especially since at the end of his time here we would be heading separate directions for about a year.

When his mom found out we would be so close she immediately set to work fixing up his childhood bedroom so everything would be perfect for our stay. But since it is a TDY he is being housed at a hotel here on Post. Granted its not the best hotel (read: converted barracks), but it wasn’t intended to house a family, or even a couple. Oh well. So I being the naive young army wife that I am, and trying to make life easier for my husband since his commute would be awful we decided that we would stay at the hotel rather than with his  parents, and I thought it would be like a nice little get-away.

Boy was I wrong! I mean  don’t get me wrong. I love that we are getting this time together, that we don’t have to be apart an extra three months. We get endless date nights (we have no kitchen so we have no choice but to go out), but even that gets old especially when you enjoy being in the kitchen anyway. Plus, pregnancy cravings can be quite difficult to squelch when you can’t make your own food!

Anywho, there are so many things that make long term hotel living extremely difficult that I never would have thought of. Such as no dishes. We have a mini-fridge and a microwave. The breakfast solution seemed easy. Oatmeal and cereal. All you need for those is milk or water. Except, when I went to pour my bowl of cereal, I quickly realized we had no bowls. So I improvised, the paper coffee cups they give for the coffee maker would work just fine. Thankfully I realized before I poured the milk in there that I didn’t have a spoon. So dried cereal it was till I swiped some spoons from Cold Stone later that weekend.

If you are interested in checking out more of my antics from hotel living be sure to hop on over to the Army Wife Network and check out my latest post there.

Hotel Living may sound roamntic, but when you stop to think about it, it definitely has its downsides!

Four Deployment Questions You Need To Ask

Deployment is hard! First time deployments can be even more difficult because we don't know what to expect! Rachel from Countdowns and Cupcakes is here to answer our deployment questions!

 

When my husband deployed for the first time, I learned a valuable lesson: I should have asked more questions of him, of myself and of others who’d been there.  But everything was too scary, too unknown for me to even start wrapping my head around. Growing up in a non-military family, I had no frame of reference for what a deployment would be like and I certainly had not prepared myself as well as I would have liked. Looking back, I know that there were certain deployment questions everyone should ask, but are usually too afraid to.

What if the worst happens?

I know. We’re really starting out with a doozy, but this one is beyond important to ask before your first deployment, and I would argue before each one that follows.  You need to update wills, understand final wishes and understand what will happen if the worst comes to your door.  Who gets notified? What are your responsibilities? What are your loved one’s wishes? How will you continue to pay the bills?

As some of these things can change throughout a military career, it’s important to have this discussion before each deployment. Have a good honest conversation before your service member leaves so that you feel a bit more in control.

So um, what about the…you know?

We’ve officially gone from one end of the serious spectrum to the other. Or have we? Intimacy during deployment is a legitimate question and one that you should discuss with your loved one.  Technology has come a long way in offering you options, but just remember that once something is out on the Internet, it never really goes away. Be careful and make decisions together that you’re both comfortable with.

One of the benefits of deployment (or any long term separation) is that you can actually increase aspects of intimacy through more conversation. You may be surprised to find that you finish a deployment feeling closer to your loved one than when it began.

Should family be invited to homecoming?  

There are probably as many different answers to this one as there are different types of families. My personal opinion is this: invite whoever is going to make that moment better for you and your service member. If that’s extended family, friends and their high school biology teacher, go for it. If it’s just you, that’s ok too.

Homecoming and reintegration can be a very emotional time for everyone involved and additional family and friends being in attendance (or even staying with you after) may make things harder. Be honest with yourself, your service member and your family/friends about your preferences. Offering up a good compromise (inviting people out a few weeks later) may help folks accept your decision. Just remember that ultimately, it is your decision and everyone will understand.

How am I going to make it through this?

Oh boy. I ask myself this question every.single.deployment and am not sure I have a perfect answer. Each deployment requires you to adjust to a unique set of circumstances, so one deployment’s answer won’t necessarily hold true for the next. For example, a deployment without children is a very different beast than the next one that features a toddler.

But I have learned one thing: making it through a deployment is largely contingent on me staying busy. No, it does not actually make time go by faster, but it does reduce the amount of time you have to wallow in missing someone. Pick up a new hobby, get back in shape, send outrageous care packages to your service member, throw yourself into your career or start your own business. Find something that excites you and fills your free time with fun.

 

Deployments are scary; there is no way around that. But if you ask the right questions beforehand, you may feel more in control of the situation. Don’t be afraid to ask your service member “what ifs” or reach out to fellow military spouses for advice. You will make it through this deployment!

Rachel is a proud Navy wife, avid reader, dog mom, baker and care package maker. She blogs all about life as a military wife at Countdowns and Cupcakes, a place where military spouses, new and experienced alike, can come for support, encouragement, a little humor and maybe a care package idea or two. She can also be found on InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterestEtsy and Bloglovin.

Deployment is hard! First time deployments can be even more difficult because we don't know what to expect! Rachel from Countdowns and Cupcakes is here to answer our deployment questions!