I wrote about moving home when your spouse is deployed last year, and looking back on what my opinion was then (before experiencing a deployment) and now (during a deployment) my opinion has changed. My spouse will have been gone between 8 and 9 months this year and I went home and spent a large amount of that time away visiting family.
Each family’s situation is different. It was just my dog and I this deployment and we could travel easily by just popping into the car and driving from California to Texas. We stopped along the way when we needed to and did not have to worry about much. A family with children could not so easily make a 20 hour road trip home! Also if your children are younger and not in school, you may want to go home and have an extra set of hands to help you (Mom and Dad come in really handy during a deployment!). But, if your kids are in school and extracurricular activities, going home for an extended visit may not even be possible. You do not want to interrupt their lives more than the void that your deployed spouse already created.
As a military family, we have so many options. Here is my take on each:
Stay put: Fully immerse yourself in command activities and take advantage of the support of others who are experiencing the same ache from the absence of the one they love. I am very lucky to have some dear friends on the same deployment schedule, and it has made it easier to have a whole group to talk to who are going through the same thing as I am.
Extended trip home: I spent a little over a month in my home town with my parents and visiting friends and family back home. This option works for me because I work from home and I had someone to check on my house while I was gone. This way, I broke up the deployment (I tried to plan it around the halfway point) and I was still in town to take advantage of my military friends' support and activities.
Extended Vacation: I am lucky both of my parents are retired and they came to California and rented a beach house a couple hours away from base for a month. So, my dog and I spent a month with them on an “extended vacation” this was a great option for me because I was close enough to check on things at our permanent residence if needed, and come back for command sponsored events, but far enough away to be distracted from missing my spouse as much!
Partial Do It Yourself (DITY): I can imagine this is an option many large families use during a deployment. Pack up all the kids, pets and belongings into a trailer and spend the next 10 months at home with family, with the comfort of some of their own belongings. I am curious to hear stories of families that tried this! Was it worth the non-government-reimbursable costs?
Full move!? I have known a few spouses who had no choice but to do a full government move while their service member was away. My friend had been on a waiting list to move on post and - as you can imagine - the month after her spouse left they had an opening and she moved her ENTIRE household by herself! The housing office on the Navy base I live near requires a special power-of-attorney to do anything related to government housing (this might be worth checking into with your on-post housing office before your spouse deploys - just in case). If you are not required to or choose to move with orders, would you consider doing a FULL move home voluntarily during a deployment? I cannot imagine this option but would like to hear from someone who has! I know there are benefits to saving your housing allowance and living with mom and dad for free, please share your experience!
I really do believe there is a "right" way that is a perfect fit for each individual family to handle their living situation during a deployment. I am a firm believer is doing what works for you, no matter what anyone else says! Looking for some more opinions on this topic? Check out the Spouse Buzz poll about moving home during a deployment.
Please take a moment to share your experiences. Have you had the ultimate test, moving because you HAD to during a deployment? Or do you choose to move because you feel less lonely at home when your spouse is away?
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