Between at sea rotations, peace keeping missions, and advisor roles, deployment is a more complicated idea that it was in 2004. The evolving role of the military in world events on top of recent political turmoil has made the situation confusing even for those relatively in the know. Are all deployment combat related? Is there such a thing as a safe deployment?
Separation is Separation
First, let’s acknowledge the fact that anytime you, or your loved one, is away from home is hard. The challenges are a little different for everyone. There was a time when my husband was regularly away for short periods – 1 to 2 weeks at a time – and we both found ourselves commenting that it would be easier if he just stayed away. The constant adjusting, hellos and goodbyes left their own wear and tear. At the same time, it was also so much less worry and stress than the year+ combat deployment to an increasingly violent Middle East. Separation, of all lengths and types, is tough.
Comparison Helps No One
If you’ve been on the receiving end of a comment like “At least people won’t be shooting at you/your loved one”, you know that however well intentioned those comparisons minimize your worry. Perspective is important but it doesn’t prevent children from acting out, appliances from breaking or the car from making that weird noise (because you know it always happens when your service member is deployed).
Make A Communication Plan
An unexpected challenge of Non-Combat Deployments frequently pops up in communication. For service members, loved ones may expect more frequent contact when you are not “in a war zone” without realizing your daily op tempo. Family members might see Facebook pictures from shore leave or port calls and feel ignored. Making a plan before you leave and establishing expectations so everyone is on the same page prevents miscommunication.
The 2010 ending of combat operations in Iraq reminded us that “non-combat” has a fluid meaning for troops depending on where in the world they are deployed. 2017 is expected to see an increase in Army deployments to places like Europe in addition to non-combat rotations to South Korea and Kuwait. Naval, Marine and Air Force operations take place all over the world as part of training and support with allies, some in places identified as hostile.
Whatever the reason for your deployment, arming yourself with the tools you need and a support system is essential! If the end of this deployment means a PCS, get ahead with your planning – update your AHRN.com dashboard and start researching likely duty stations!