As many military spouses know, once we get word of an upcoming deployment we try to pretend as if those words were never mentioned. We ignore the possibility could even exist, until those orders arrive. The possibility of a deployment now becomes real; it sets in a bit more. At this point we are wishing away that deployment and gearing up for all madness of preparation to begin. Here comes the deployment countdown.
What happens when your wish comes true? A deployment getting cancelled is more common than many may think. We have stared at three sets of orders, at three different times throughout my husband’s 15 year military career that were canceled just within weeks of departure. Those months we geared towards deployment and prepared; physically, mentally, and emotionally, were suddenly void. I felt like all the hard work didn’t mean anything. The hardest parts were the different stages we went through in preparation as a family, spouse and service member.
Preparing for a deployment is already a stressful time, and mixed with so many different emotions for every person involved. Once a deployment has been canceled, you immediately feel excited and relieved. However, you may also feel let down and stressed about all the work done for no apparent reason. What do you do when you plan accordingly, but then have change gears?
There are a few things you should expect, and also prepare for should your loved ones deployment get cancelled:
Always remember that military life is one curveball after another. Even after 11 years of being a military spouse, I still am surprised! We would expect that common courtesy would be for the military to not play around with our emotions and give us the notice we need, however we all know very well mission requirements change. There is no definitive battle plan given to us, so we have to adjust accordingly. Do what you can with what you have, always communicate with your spouse, and decide what will work for you and your family. Don’t expect everything to be perfect.
That pre-deployment stress feeling will return. Kind of like the tension that builds up right before you say farewell to your loved one, this stress-like feeling will return. We have emotionally prepared ourselves to see our service member off and although we don’t want them to leave, we were ready. Now we have to turn around and determine how our spouse will fit back into the next year of our lives, after planning for them not being there. What a strange feeling this is. Expect it and know that all you can do is learn to adjust to the changes. Embrace the change and take it as another life lesson to add to that resiliency life manual.
Your service member will be upset. Try not to take this one personal. I remember the look on my husband’s face when his last deployment was canceled. My heart was crushed, immediately I thought he did want to leave our family. This obviously was not the case and it had nothing to do with us. Think about the training, the gearing up for the mission that your spouse has spent hours completing. Sort of like all the planning you did to prepare, they were also preparing and now those preparations might seem like time wasted. Truth be told, expect them to be a little bit more upset than you, and don’t take it to heart. Expect the pre-deployment stress to really sit in here, it is all part of the transition process and it will pass.
Have you ever experienced a canceled deployment? How did you react or respond? Share with us in the comments below!
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Angela Caban is a military columnist and published author. Her husband, who was deployed in 2008, was one of the many soldiers impacted by the unprecedented activation of the Army National Guard. In 2010 she founded the Homefront United Network to provide assistance and family support through encouragement, educational articles and resources. She is dedicated to assisting National Guard and Reserve families with resources and ensuring no spouse or family member is left behind.
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