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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Prepping for that next Deployment

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Prepping for that next Deployment















Being a military wife means dealing with the deployment of your military spouse. There is just no way around it. Prepare yourself ahead of time, and the transition to when he's gone will be much easier. I have talked to many women myself, who were unsure of themselves before their husbands left, and then found that later, they were empowered, more self-confident and ready to tackle the world! Follow this checklist below to make sure you've got all your ducks in a row.


Daily Life

  • Start thinking NOW what you want to do while he is gone. You need to stay busy and focused on something that you can really get involved in whether it is a job, hobby or volunteering, anything that will keep your mind and body active and won't give you time to sit around all day and be depressed; research has shown that if you are committed to helping others, you don't have a lot of time to worry about yourself
  • If you have kids, make sure you stick with a routine! Kids thrive on a routine! Don't go changing their life around by staying up late, eating out all the time and dragging them around everywhere; give them some structure, get them involved in activities and encourage them to play with their friends (or playdates with other kids and their moms)
  • Regularly get together with other military wives; we used to do a once-a-week potluck together, and it gave us a chance to unwind and to talk to other wives going through the same thing
  • Evenings are always the worst for me, as you have time to think and feel sorry for yourself; it's okay to sleep on his side of the bed or to wear his shirt or anything else that would make you feel comfortable; I would try to read a nice book or watch a funny movie to keep my mind occupied until I felt too tired to go on (but with that being said, don't stay up too late!)
Finances

  • Decide now who will be in charge of the finances; it really needs to be one person, and it's better it's the person who stays behind; I've always run the finances in our family, and my husband prefers it that way; just make sure your spouse is familiar with your system of where everything is and use our Billpaying checklist so anyone will know how and when to pay your bills
  • Use an online billpaying service and make the bills that have set amounts every month pay automatically; when I get bills in the mail, I go online that day and set up that particular bill to be paid and then file the bill away; you only end up handling it once and don't have papers laying around everywhere
Military Stuff

  • Make sure you know how to download your husband's LES (paycheck) from the website; you can then quickly check what's going on if you have to and make sure he is getting what he is supposed to be getting
  • Attend the pre-deployment briefing your unit will offer before deployment; I can't tell you the number of times husbands forget to tell their wives or wives just don't show up; it is SO IMPORTANT you get the information that they will give out to help you! Demand that your husband tell you when it is
  • Carry the phone numbers and contact information for the Rear Detachment to your husband's unit; this is a group of soldiers, one high ranking, who stay behind specifically to be there for you; I've seen rear detachment folks change out wives' flat tires, make arrangements for a broken washer and also steer wives in the right direction when they have questions or issues; they are there for you, use them!
Paperwork

  • Know when all your vehicle registrations, renewals and the like are due; make sure all your vehicles have base/post stickers
  • Know where all your important documents are located and make sure you both have wills, powers of attorney and advanced directives (you can get all this done for free at your post's legal office); make an appointment now
  • Make sure your spouse's DD 93 is up-to-date; it's a record of emergency data and let's the military know who to contact should something happen as well as some other important information
  • Make sure your husband's life insurance, SGLI is up-to-date; this is his life insurance through the military; I have actually witnessed TWICE where a soldier did not update this and their ex-wife got all the proceeds when something happened to the soldier

Other

  • Give an extra set of car and house keys to someone you trust
  • Especially if you have younger children, get in the habit of making contact with a friend or family member on the phone, just so everyone knows you are okay; Before I did this, I always had a fear that if something happened to me, who would know about it and would my kids be okay? This works great if both of you are military spouses; you can then check on each other
  • Always have the phone number for the Red Cross onhand; make sure your spouse's parents and your parents have it too; if you or his family have an emergency, the American Red Cross can then quickly notify your spouse's unit, who will get the message through to him; also have the Rear Detachment's numbers with you too; make sure your neighbor has these as well
  • Every post or base has some kind of family support center; find out now where it is and what types of programs or services they may have for you as a spouse; I know our local support center once set up a satellite link where we could come in on a pre-arranged date/time to see and talk with our husbands; it was great!
  • Get involved with your unit's family readiness group; EVERY unit has one and must maintain one; they frequently have fun get togethers for the spouses and children, offer support and guidance and usually hold monthly meetings for spouses; this is the single best way to find out what is going on in your husband's unit and gives you an opportunity to meet and befriend other wives in the unit; I have made some of my best friends here!; you will also find fun volunteer opportunities to keep you busy
  • I also like to make up a list of emergency numbers and post it on my refrigerator; I teach my children how to use the list and the phone; I even have the number to Poison Control handy at 1-800-222-1222 and have actually used it twice myself (I found out eating a whole tube of toothpaste is not the emergency I thought it was!)
If you follow these basic steps, your transition will be so much easier! It also lets your spouse know, that you've got things under control on the homefront. Do you have anything to add? Let's hear it!

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