An Open Letter to the Military: Regarding the Recent Deployment to Haiti, Rumors, and the Homefront

Dear Military,

As you know, it has been about 20 days since my husband deployed to Haiti. I am almost 100% certain that the inbox of our FRO (Family Readiness Officer) has been inundated with inquiries regarding our service men’s and women’s return date. I, as a spouse and a mother of two little girls, am not immune to the desire to know either but have moved away from asking since I can already predict the answer is not yet known. However, this does not eliminate the frustration and anxiety that I and other spouses are currently experiencing. 

It is obvious to those involved that our stress and overwhelming dissatisfaction about this deployment is more so in relation to the fact that our men and women just got home from their recent 7 month deployment. It is a constant fear of mine, as well as voiced in other spouses, that our ‘family time’ will be cut short or worse non-existence upon their return due to the realization that they must start ‘work-ups’ to deploy again in the near future.

With the rumors looming around us like a plague it is easier said than done to not grab a hold of one and hold on to it until it is shot down. At times, for me, it can make a huge difference in my day to follow a rumor for a couple of hours instead of looking into an endless tunnel with an indefinite end. Occasionally, I even welcome them – even more so to get me through the ‘rough days’. Currently, the rumor that has grabbed my attention is that some spouses have been given a return date. It would truly be infuriating to know that a selection of spouses is receiving more information regarding homecoming while other spouses are counting up days instead of having the opportunity to count down. Although my logic comforts my emotions in the belief that this too is nothing more than a rumor – it still is very challenging to overlook.

I am aware that representatives of the unit are not authorized to provide specific dates and/or information until they are given permission to do so. Reflecting on the circumstances and the barriers around the deployment, I began to contemplate ideas or ways we as spouses can be alleviated from the stressors of this current situation. I understand with a full heart of compassion that Haiti needs the help of the International community to assist them in returning to, at minimum, what their world was like seconds before the earthquake. I am proud to be part of a nation that can assist in this mass effort providing extraordinary and grand humanitarian relief. I am aware, via the news and updates from the CO (Commanding Officer), that our service men and women are consistently and productively providing this assistance where needed as well as supporting NGOs. What would be reassuring at this time for us spouses on the homefront, and to say the least – encouraging, maybe to tell us what the determining factors are in regards to the length of this deployment? Is there a list of areas/towns in Haiti that need to be visited first? Is there a group of NGOs that must be assisted? Is there a goal of how many people of Haiti need to receive direct assistance from us? At this point – anything is truly better than hearing nothing. Speaking for myself, I feel that if I received an update more often, even to say that ‘nothing new is known’, would be more consoling than passing another day with silence amid incessant rumors.

Nevertheless, I appreciate and applaud the rapid planning and organization of the upcoming “Family Appreciation Day”. My daughters and I are truly looking forward to having a delightful time as well as the given opportunity to meet other spouses and families in which empathy can be utilized at its best. This being the first event I am attending, since recently moving into the area, I am unaware if there will be Chaplains and/or counselors at hand to casually introduce themselves and “check-in” on us spouses and children and possibly go as far as extending their therapeutic services. With the present unexpected back-to-back deployment along with the added strain of it being ‘indefinite’ it should almost be anticipated that risks of anxiety, depression, and even alcohol and drug abuse may be high amongst family members. I say this not only as a  licensed professional in the field of mental health but also as someone who is facing these circumstances and know what a difference it  would make to hear someone come to me and say they understand how difficult this can be and simply ask me how I am doing.

I hope that my letter does not find you bothered by my spoken standpoint for my desire to know something that may very well be unattainable, but with that, I hope you can also understand the position I speak from. It would be more than a blessing to just have my husband home already, but as I mentioned – at this point knowing anything is better than knowing nothing.

Until then, my prayers are with him, the entire military, the people of Haiti, and the families of those here on the homefront. I not only pray for strength but that we may also continue and strive to be optimistic during this fractious time.

Sincerely,

A Military Spouse

New Year, New Home, New State, New Blog Post, and New Deployment

So after I pulled all the cobwebs and used a compressed air can to blow off the tall amount of dust on my blog – IM BACK!  Or more like (as I prefer to call it) , “My Verbal Rebirth” (yes yes – I so prefer that better)

Any who – instead of boring you with why and what and the blah blah’s about and reasons I have not written in so long I’m just going to tell you all about whats happening and whats happened that is relevant to whats happening.

Well the husband returned safe and in one piece from Deployment early last month (December 2009). Our family was joyful and thrilled to have him home, especially for the holidays. Our girls have enjoyed every minute of having their “daddy” home that it still causes me to tear up at the sight of their happiness.

In addition, after spending the holidays with our very loving family and friends in New Jersey – we loaded up our lives into cardboard boxes, put the girls in their most comfy jammies and we hit the road. Off to begin the new year on a road trip to our new home, new lives, and new chapter of being together again. We drove straight through the night and all I could do was imagine and plan ideas in my head of all the wonderful experiences we are going to have together in our new home. Did I mention I love decorating too? I pretty much had every room set up and color schemes picked out before we were even got out of NJ!

We arrived at 5am extremely tired and went straight to sleep (on the carpet) but of course only after looking and inspecting every closet room and corner of the house (all with our 2 little girls trailing behind us just as excited). We woke up a couple of hours later motivated and the movers began to transport in all our furniture and belongings.

We spent the entire first week unloading boxes, building furniture, putting away clothes, and organizing evrything with the new layout of the house. The kitchen was the first room in the house to be completely done – not because I started cooking or anything but because I knew exactly how I wanted decorated!

The girls adjusted great. My oldest went to her new school and loves it. She is excited every morning  to get ready. They both love their new rooms and are indulging in all the toys that had been placed into storage throughout my husbands deployment.

The following Monday my husband went back to work after his post-deployment leave. My oldest had become accustomed to having her daddy home during the day that before school and after school she would say how much she missed him and can’t wait for him to be home from work. The next day, as I couldn’t decide where to put all my useless ‘stuff’ I had CNN in the background and I heard that Haiti was hit with a very strong earthquake. Not much else was reported at the time and there was no videos or pictures but all I could think was how sad for this to happen to a country where people truly have nothing to begin with and here I am complaining that I dont have enough room to store everything. I then shut off the TV and went to make dinner. As the night fell I signed on to my Facebook account and there is where I saw friends looking for their own loved ones in Haiti and desperately asking people to donate money to charities. It was there that I felt it closer to me than before. I now know someone who directly has family that was affected by the earthquake – basically feeling, that could have easily been me.

The next couple days I felt like I was struck with a big boulder in my chest and found myself having to remember to breathe. As I watched the news like a devoted sports fan follows his team into the playoffs – my husband came home on Thursday with confirmed orders that he was being re-deployed to Haiti for humanitarian relief the NEXT day. We had one day to prepare – to explain to our oldest daughter – to discuss finances – and to well, eat dinnertogether as a family. This is probably one of the most emotionally challenging experiences I will deal with, not so much just for me, but in helping my daughters get through this. As of now we have no return date and no way to countdown how long he will be gone for (something not very comforting for our oldest daughter). She does understand what has happened in Haiti and wants help for the people who are suffering – its just that, as she says it: “daddy just got home – its not fair”.

Now  don’t get me wrong – I am proud we come from a country that is willing and able to help Haiti – believe me I watch the Haiti coverage almost 24/7 even though it is now fading from the headlines. My heart aches for the families, children, women, elderly – all of the people of Haiti. I wish I could do more! All I can do is to continue to pray that more aid goes their way and that the country of Haiti will be better than ever before when it’s all over.

It will be one week tomorrow that my husband has been re-deployed. Our family’s reunion was short-lived (only 6 weeks!) but I have my faith and know that I an my girls will be okay. I have loads of challenges ahead of me with being completely new to this area and only knowing my neighbors – I just hope once we are completely settled (since I still haven’t completely unpacked) we will venture out more and have a more steady routine. But of course, never fails, in only the 6 days that my husband has been gone things have already broken! Like important things – the car and the phone. I’m seriously scared to wash clothes or turn on the dish washer!

So for now, I will keep Haiti and all those providing relief in my prayers, I will try to stay strong, I will continue to have my faith that God will take of me, and just keep telling myself:

“Things need to be difficult, before anything gets easy.”

The song that keeps me going…and looking up….