Separation has become a fact of life for many National Guard Members who had, prior to recent years, been largely excluded from military deployments. Many of these service members now spend months to years apart from their spouses and children. The struggle to maintain a healthy family and marriage is a very big challenge.
National Guardsmen are a part-time force in our nation’s military. These members usually maintain civilian employment separate from their military duties and do not reside on military bases. In many cases, their unit members do not live in the same towns and cities and must travel long distances for their military obligations. When these members deploy, these families are often left without the support of a community in similar situations that is prevalent with active duty military.
It can be difficult to stay connected to a spouse as surroundings and experiences become vastly different during a deployment. It is important to maintain communication. Thankfully, for today’s separated couples, the internet provides many tools for keeping a strong relationship intact. E-mail, instant messaging, and services such as SKYPE all provide valuable ways to connect. Keeping communication flowing can help a couple stay close.
Children also need to stay close to their deployed parent. The same internet tools can be utilized to keep the parent-child bond strong. A recording of a favorite bedtime story or song can keep the missing parent involved in every day routines. Special stuffed animals can remind the child of their parent’s love despite their absence.
In order for these relationships to continue to thrive, it is important for the military family to continuously keep the deployed family member a part of their day to day life. Keeping photos in sight and their possessions in normal places keep them in the home without their physical presence. It is important to talk often about the deployed Guardsman. It can also be uplifting to talk about fun activities and vacations you may be able to do when they return home.
As difficult as the time during a deployment may be, the homecoming can often times be just as challenging. Spouses have to become reacquainted and children need to readjust to their returning parent. The service member may also experience mental and physical consequences from their deployment that require additional time and help to overcome or adapt to. There will most likely be changes to what normal was before the deployment took place.
All of these obstacles can be overcome and many families emerge stronger and closer following a deployment of a National Guard Member. As long as communication and commitment exists between the family, deployment can be dealt with smoothly and successfully.