The topic of length of deployments can be a hot one with military spouses. I find the word deployment can mean many different things depending on which military spouse you ask. To an Army spouse, a deployment can mean 6-15 months. For a Marine spouse a deployment can mean 3-4 months and longer. Still to a Navy or even an Air Force spouse, a deployment can mean 3-12 months.
To further complicate things, an Army spouse might say, "this is our fifth deployment", whereas a Navy spouse might say, "this is our 15th deployment". You get the picture. This doesn't take into account different experiences each of our loved ones have while being deployed. When we try to find common ground for conversation starting with, "how many deployments have you been through," might not be the best jumping off point.
Other common questions we military spouses like to ask include, "Where have you been stationed?" or "How long has your husband been in (the service)?" and my least favorite, "What does your husband do?" With this line of questioning, it's easy to start to compare and by compare I mean compare hardships and create judgments.
We Americans are well known for asking, "What do you do?" The thought of asking, "What do you enjoying doing," might never cross our minds.
I love it when a fellow military spouse asks me what I do or where I'm from instead of what my husband does and what rank he holds.
When we are going through a deployment we can find ourselves on a roller coaster of emotion, wondering if our loved one is safe, while thinking about how are we going to manage three kids on three different soccer fields, all the while trying to remember if we took the chicken out of the freezer to thaw.
When we start to compare hardships, it is easy to think we miss our loved one more than our fellow military spouse misses their spouse and wonder why she isn't more together after all you are dealing with "so much more".
I can assure the spouse experiencing 65 days of separation misses their loved one just as much as the spouse going on 365 days. It all boils down to perception and perception is reality.
What is important to remember is that we are all in this together. To not compare, to empathize, to share experiences, to support one another, to offer resources that might help the other person when appropriate, and to be a good listener.
So when you hear a military spouse say, "another year, another deployment" keep in mind your deployment and theirs might be different, but in the end separation is still tough to endure.
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