30 days to deployment
It was a simple enough question. “Where is your family in the deployment cycle?” asked the counselor as we checked the kids into the Operation Purple summer camp. My husband and I turned to look at each other. The woman, sensing that perhaps we didn’t understand the question, tried to help us out, “Are you just getting back or are you getting ready to go?”
“Yes,” my husband replied. Now it was the counselor’s turn to look confused and my turn to help her. “All of the above,” I said. “He just got back from a deployment, he’s getting ready to leave on a deployment, and by the time I come back to pick up the kids at the end of the week, he’ll be deployed.”
My family has been caught in a constant state of deployment for the past six years. Sometimes it feels like we are walking around with giant stopwatches above our heads. The clock is always running. It never stops. Even in the first euphoric moments when he returns safely from another stint in the war zone, the first question out of my mouth is “How long will you be home?”
I often wish we could suspend the laws of military family physics and make the time that my husband is home go as slowly as the time he is away. We’re currently in another “Getting Ready to Go” phase. It feels like my husband just got home, but before the new gallon of organic milk in my fridge expires, he’ll be on his way and we’ll be separated yet again.
It’s easy to get caught navel-gazing when a deployment is looming. I’m so focused on how the constant coming and going is impacting our family; I lose perspective. Just as I’m about to turn into a full-blown deployment snob—smug with my “been there, done that” attitude—I’m always reminded that other military families have sacrificed far more. Deployment is not a contest. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first, third, or seventh deployment. They are never fun and they never get easier.