Getting deployed is not the easiest thing in the world, but someone’s gotta do it. I was involved in the start of the Iraq war in 2003, so I know all about surviving a deployment and the many changes that come with the different cycles coming in and out of country.
This post is not about staying alive, because you should already know that part. Unless you’re trying to tell me that you’re getting deployed completely untrained? If you don’t know this by now, stay alert stay alive.
Deployments Are All Different
I have deployed twice in the 4 years I was in the military and I can tell you that A LOT has changed since I even last deployed in 05′.
The main countries (Iraq and Afghanistan) look completely different, but I could remember my first deployment like it was yesterday.
These days there is a lot less action, but there is still the same things that all of us have to deal with and a big one is being away from home.
That alone is a big deal and something all soldiers and service members can relate to.
Whether it was just basic training or an actual deployment, almost all of us would rather be at home with our families, but there’s not much we can do.
Being Away From Family & Friends
This is probably the hardest part for any Soldier, Marine, Airman, or Seaman to handle. We all join for several reasons and one of them is to support our families.
It doesn’t help that you’re working to support your family and then bam!
You’re on a C17 headed overseas.
In the end, we have to do what we have to do and there’s almost no way out of it as that is what we signed up to do in the first place.
How To Handle Being Away?
I was a single soldier on my first deployment and boy was it hard. I may have been a bullet catching, ground pounding Infantryman, but it didn’t change the fact that I was only human.
I didn’t have any kids at the time, and I can only imagine being away from my kids for a whole year. I gotta give it up for those of you that are still serving and away from your families.
Here are a couple of things that kept me busy and I know it can help you survive this deployment so that it doesn’t feel as long as it actually is.
1.) Keep yourself Busy
Sounds pretty stupid, but sometimes if you don’t think about things, you can find yourself missing home. Depending on what type of person you are, I always suggest getting involved with little things like going to an MWR tent with a couple of buddies, but please don’t go alone.
If you’re alone, make friends with another buddy and maybe this would be a good time to get to know each other.
You are fighting a war together and you are not going to survive this deployment if you try and keep to yourself the whole time.
When I was in, we almost did everything as a platoon and it was amazing.
We went to chow, played cards, and watched movies all together.
I was with the tightest group of guys and I would do anything for every single one of them, even if they didn’t care to hangout with me.
2.) Limit Your Social Media and Phone Use
Although it is the best feeling to keep in touch with your family and friends, it is not always the best thing. You then find yourself missing them more and then you get depressed and can’t focus on the mission.
I made the mistake of spending at least 30 minutes on the phone, which not made me miss them more, but I racked up some minutes and ended up spending a couple thousand dollars, on the phones alone. Please don’t do that.
I know everything is more up to date and you guys are probably able to Skype and are probably running around with your own cellphones, but I didn’t have that luxury in my time.
To save you from more heartache and from putting a big dent on your bank account, you should limit yourself on communication with the folks back home.
3.) Stay Focused on the Mission
I don’t care if you’re stuck on the FOB (forward operating base), you still have a job to do. Just because you have more time than those going out the wire, you still need to make sure you’re doing your part.
I can’t tell you to not think about your family, because that is not going to happen. A lot of the time I caught myself thinking about back home and then we end up running into some action.
This is the time that you need to think about making it home alive and not dwindling your chances by getting complacent. Stay focused!
4. Boost Morale
I have mentioned a couple of things that are good for morale, but you need to focus on what is actually happening around you and not just with yourself.
If you see others keeping to themselves, you might want to interact with them and maybe invite them to your next visit to the chow hall.
We used to play cards and although we did gamble, it kept us going. I know you think you’re rich with the income coming in and you not touching it, but remember that you are not rich. Keep the gambling to a minimum and do it for the fun of things.
5. Stay in Shape
I know you should be doing some PT, but for most deployed soldiers, it would have to be done on their own time, due to the fact that the missions keep them on a seriously busy schedule.
I know you may be drained and exhausted, but staying in shape will always give you more energy and you will be able to get through the days a lot easier. PT is a must!
Stay Alert, Stay Alive
I know some of you may be in different branches of the military and have a lot of pride in your branch of service, but in the end we are all doing the same thing.
I don’t care what branch you’re in, but please do stay on your toes and make it home safely. Again, thank you for serving and if you have any questions about me or anything related to me, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below. I never used to say this before, but I’ll do it for you.