Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's That Time Again. Deployment. Yuck! What Do I Need To Do To Be Ready?

So after a long break from blogging I decided it was time to jump back into it. Especially since we are currently beginning to prepare for a second deployment. =( I never thought that I would be going through another deployment much less one this close. We were honestly expecting to get out of the military. However, due to issues with my health we ended up having to reenlist. In fact my hubby is having his reenlistment ceremony next week.
They leave this summer. Only a few more months to prepare. Even though we have done this before I am kind of overwhelmed and swept up in a flurry of actions, attempting to be somewhat prepared for this, not that you really can ever be truly ready for when your other half leaves you. Luckily, since we do have some experience we got down to the immediate decisions fairly quick.

First, it must be decided where you are going to live while your lovely soldier is running around with his gun over on the other side of the world. Lots of women like to stay on post or in their housing that is close to post. They all agree that the support is amazing since you are surrounded by many other families that are going through the exact same thing as you. There are also a lot of programs on post that are designed for the families of deployed soldiers. Schools are more lenient and understanding if you decide to go on a long vacation and take the kids out of school. So no matter if you are a mother with several kids or just a wife alone, there is always someone to help keep your spirits up. The down fall is if you haven't made a lot of friends or built some kind of support group and you are far from other family members or friends you may end up feeling completely alone and abandoned.
There is also the choice to move back with family. I know a lot of wives that like to have the extra support of another family member when taking care of the kids. It's also a great way to save money as you won't have to pay rent (or as much of it.) The downfall here is that families don't always quite understand what you are going through and even if they mean well, they don't always give you what you need. Still it can be a great experience. I personally decided that since I have no children and we are trying to pay off debt that I would rather move back in with my parents. That way I can also spend time with the family I never get to see because they are so far away. That might play a part in your choice as well.

Second, if you have decided to move, it is logical to figure out when you are moving and how you are going to move. A lot of women move before their husband leaves since it is easier with his help. Keep in mind though that this may mean that you have to spend his last couple of weeks on US soil apart if you move far away from post. There is the option of moving after he leaves, but you must make sure you have the proper help. We are planning to put most of my stuff in storage since my parents still have my childhood room open to me. This makes the move a lot simpler. We are still arguing over whether I will move across the states during his block leave or if I'll move on my own after he leaves. I prefer the second over protective husband thinks I'll get lost during the 28 hr drive to the West. hahahaha

You also need to make sure you take care of the important legal stuff. Make an appointment with JAG so that you know everything is being properaly taken care of. You need to have a Power of Attorney done. This is a document that your husband signs that makes it so you can act as him in legal things while he is gone. In other words when you sign your name on something you are signing for him as well. So you have access to his bank accounts. You can buy a house or car without him there. All that good stuff. Watch out guys because this means that if your wife decides to buy a pig farm while you are gone, then you are returning as a pig farmer! =P
You will also need to make or update your Wills. If you have never done one before, don't worry, JAG will walk you through it. The main thing here is to try to decide before hand who you want to give your stuff too. You'll be asked, that in the case that you both pass away, where will your stuff go. It's best to have that all decided before you go in. Things go much smoother and faster that way.
Don't forget to create or update your Medical Directive too. If you haven't done one of these before it's basically a document that says, if you are unable to make medical decisions yourself for whatever reason (example being you are in a coma,) then this is what you want done. It is VERY important to sit down and talk about some of these major choices with your spouse before going in. We hadn't even thought about some of the things they asked us and it left us staring at each other like idiots a few times. Talk about what each of you wants should either of you end up in a situation where you have to be on life support. This is an uncomfortable  topic for some people but it is best if it is decided now. Also discuss the idea of being an organ donor. See if either of you feels strongly either way about it.
Last, but not least, if you have children you need to create a Family Care Plan. This is just a plan that is about what to do with the kids in case something happens that causes both parents to be unable to care for them. That includes both being stuck at work after school gets out to one parents being deployed and the other getting in an accident. It's a major babysitting plan on paper basically. That way your children are always taken care of. Make sure you both agree on who you decide to include in the plan. Don't forget to tell the people you do include in it what your plan is and make sure they are okay with it.
After you have all of these documents made up it is important for you to make several copies of them and store them in different places so that you never lose them. Put a copy in your family safe. Make up a folder to take with you wherever you go that has copies of them. You will never know when they are needed. Always make sure you never run out of copies. It's a good idea to scan them into your computer if you are able to. This may seem over the top but I promise you that you will be one very sad and frustrated wife if one of these papers turns up missing. Include copies of all your insurance policies too. You will also need to include copies of your spouses Orders. Surprisingly, lots of people are going to want copies of these. The same rules apply to their Orders that apply to all the legal paperwork. Do NOT lose or run out of copies. Otherwise, you have no proof that you have a spouse over seas. Believe me when I say that causes major issues that you don't need in your already stressful life.

Next, in your wonderful list of To Dos, is to make sure you are enrolled in DEERS and that all your information is up to date. Don't forget to go in and change your address should you make the choice to move  for the deployment. No one will be able to get information about your spouse to you if they don't have your right contact info. It's best to review your info at least once a year to make sure your info is correct even if your not going through a deployment. This is the only way you exist to the Army. Also keep in mind that if you move you must update your Tricare information. You might move out of your current region and need to be enrolled in a different one.

Make sure you have good connections with your FRG. Go to the meetings they have before the deployment. If you stay on post go to the ones they have during the deployment. If you move make sure you know your key caller and have her contact info as well as the contact info of the FRG leaders. This way you can get a hold of them if you have questions. They will be your main source of info about your spouse and his unit while they are deployed.

There are a few things that will seem so insignificant during all this preparation that you may forget them. They should, however, have a moment of your attention. Make sure that you have all your bills taken care of. If there are any bills that your spouse pays, get the info about them from him and make sure you know what needs to be done to keep them current. This includes things like gas, water, car, phone, internet, and school fees. Don't wait until the bills are late before trying to get them figured out.
If you aren't good with vehicles make sure that your husband helps you get you car in top shape. Change the oil, get new tires if needed, take it to the shop for a check up. You will be miserable if the day after your spouse leaves the car starts making funny noises. Maintenance should also be done on your home and it's appliances. Don't forget things like your lawn mower or weed whacker. It never fails, when the man leaves everything starts going wrong so try to get a step ahead of it by doing a double check of everything before he goes.

Now to the last thing. This is something that most everyone cringes away from. We hate it. We don't even want to think about it much less talk about it. It still stands, though, that it NEEDS to be talked about. It's the dreaded "What happens if you die" conversation. None of us want to consider for a moment that we might lose the person we love most dearly but the hard truth it...he is going to war. You can't hide in a bubble of "Oh, that would never happen to me." I'm not saying that you need to live your life assuming he will die. That is just horrible. But you do need to be reasonable. And being reasonable is accepting the fact that having plans already decided will make things a lot easier if, God forbid, it does happen. Here are a list of questions that you and your spouse should consider. These are questions that the surviving spouse will be asked in the days following the death. This list comes from a wonderful book, Seperated By Duty, United In Love: A Guide to Long-Distance Relationships for Military Couples by Shellie Vandevoorde.

Red Cross
Will you agree to donate your loved one's organs?
If yes, you will need to provide a twenty to thirty minute phone interview with the Red Cross worker.

Funeral Details
What clothing will your loved one be buried in?
If military uniform, which one?
Will ribbons or medals be displayed on the uniform?
Will your loved one be buried with his or her wedding ring?
Do you want your loved one to have the wedding ring on during viewing and taken off before burial?
What type of casket will you choose, wooden or metal?
Will your loved one be cremated?
Do you have information for an obituary?
Where will the funeral services be conducted?
Would you like to say something at the funeral or have your thoughts read by someone else?
Would you like anyone to speak at the funeral? If yes, who?
Will this be a military funeral?
Who will conduct the funeral?

Will your loved one be buried in a private cemetery of national cemetery?
What cemetery will you loved on be buried in?
If that cemetery is unavailable, give a second choice,third choice.[Check to see if your cemetery of choice allows up-right headstones and if veterans are honored on special occasions.]
For the one left behind, would you prefer a graveside funeral or pavilion service at the time of burial?

Do you have your original marriage license? Where?
Divorce papers?
Adoption papers?
Insurance documents, car, home, life.
Titles or registrations or both to vehicles, boats, motorcycles, other recreation vehicles?
Bills, credit cards, bank accounts, savings account.
Service member's prior awards and certificates?
Photos of service member and family?

Will you be moving from your current location?
If you live in military housing, do you know where you will move to?

I know that just reading through these makes your heart wrench and your stomach feel sick, but can you imagine how much harder it will be to deal with if you have to make all the decisions alone, days after you receive notification? Trust me and just suffer through a few moments of awful conversation now.

If you do the things that I have listed you may not feel any more ready for your spouse's deployment but you will be on a good path to having a smooth going of it. Now there may be other things that you might need to do to feel prepared, every family is different, but these are the basics. Feel free to share in the comment section below some of the things you do to get ready for a deployment! We'd all sure like to learn new ways to feel less stressed.

Keep L i/o ving!

P.S. It never hurts to learn to shoot a gun! =)