One of the most common questions I get asked is, "What's it really like to a be military spouse?" The question almost always comes from military girlfriends and fiancees.
My response is almost always the same, "It's the toughest job you'll ever love."
I've been reading several stories this past week about the USS BATAAN who recently returned from a historic 10 month long deployment. The Navy hasn't deployed a ship for that long in nearly 40 years. Now some of you reading this with spouses who are on yearlong deployments might be thinking, "Heck, it's only 10 months!" Trust me when I say, it doesn't matter if a deployment is 8 weeks or 42 weeks, the spouse misses their loved one with the same intensity!!
What I learned in reading about the USS BATAAN, they didn't set out to be deployed for 10 months. In fact their deployment, which began early with only two weeks noticed, was schedule for seven months. However, several months into the deployment that changed and the return date was uncertain. I can imagine this unpredictability of just when the ship would return caused an extreme amount of stress back on the homefront.
As military spouses, many of us know the phrase "Semper Gumby", "Always Flexible". This is an example of just how a ships schedule can change. Bravo Zulu to the spouses on the USS BATAAN for rallying together to make sure the spouses who were pregnant were not alone when they delivered. They did what we military spouses do; we band together and support one another regardless of what our husband's rank is or if we are friends or merely acquaintances. This is what we do.
So today, I encourage you to reach out to your fellow command spouses and start to build a support system. Even if you don't think you'll need one, start now because you never know when you are going to need a friend, a confidant, or someone to call in an emergency situation. Be the friend you would like to have.
Having said of all of THAT, I think us spouses could learn a thing or two about port calls. The BATAAN had many port calls during their 10 month deployment. We could all use our own Rest and Relaxation! Let's work on that. If being a military wife is indeed, "the toughest job you'll ever love" then we are going to have to build in some rest, recover (and more importantly) fun time!
How do you break up the time during a deployment? Do you plan your own "port call", with a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of life? How have you given yourself a much-deserved break during a deployment?
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