Among the many situations we are faced with in military life, it’s hard to have an answer or plan for everything. I’m a textbook over-thinker, but even after going over every possible scenario, I’ve been taken by surprise a time or two. Kyle and I have always worked as a team to overcome the obstacles and challenges of a busy schedule, and the common inconveniences that come up. We’ve discussed the possible emergencies we could face, and multiple ways for dealing with them.
But what do you do when your spouse or partner is gone or unreachable, and one of the many scenarios you thought would never happen, happens?
Murphy’s Law pretty much guarantees that there’s no better time than deployment for every single thing to go wrong. The daily routine never stops, and there’s no way to predict what could happen. The last thing that any of us wants is to find ourselves thrown into an emergency situation, unsure of what to do. There’s no one there to hold our hand, and walk us through it..
And it’s scary.
When Kyle was in training, I got sick and ended up in the emergency room with a pretty bad infection. It came out of nowhere, and led to more complications than either of us planned for. And the worst part was that I could tell Kyle what was going on, but he couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t leave his school unless they were dire circumstances, and lucky for us they weren’t. But it was extremely stressful for both of us, because for the first time in our relationship we weren’t just a 15-minute drive away. A phone call and some comforting words just wasn’t enough to make it all go away.
The wide array of emergencies goes for far beyond getting sick or having the car break down. And if we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that having a plan is so important for every person involved. So for any military family facing separation or deployment, here are some tips to prepare for any emergency situation.
Discuss all scenarios
If you’re approaching a deployment or any kind of separation, have the conversation. And by that, I mean talk about all of the difficult things, including the long list of what-ifs that are impossible to avoid. Lay it all out there and make sure you’re both on the same page. It’s not easy to talk about the things that scary us. But it’s even harder when those scary things become reality, and neither or you know where the other stands.
Discuss ways to avoid these scenarios
Everyone has their own way of doing things, and Kyle and I have definitely discussed the things I will need to practice in order to stay safe while he’s deployed. But not everyone is well versed in these practices, and I can’t stress enough how important it is to be careful of what you share with others. Make sure that you lay out ground rules, not in a controlling sense, but just to make sure that you’re safe at home.
Have a safe place to go if needed
While your significant other is on the other side of the world, it’s hard for them to know what’s going on at home with the exception of what you tell them and what they see on the news. In the southern parts of the U.S. many families recently had to uproot themselves due to hurricane Matthew, and some of them had to stay in hotels for weeks. Emergencies can include natural disasters of all magnitudes, and having a safe place to retreat to can save you so much stress and money. This could be your parents’ house, or the home of a close friend. Establish where you would go ahead of time, so that your significant other knows where to contact you if needed.
Have an emergency savings
This is extremely important to every family, and it can definitely we the difference between having what you need, to going without. This savings could cover an emergency rental car, plane ticket, hotel stay, medical bill, etc. It’s a lot better to have that backup, and just pray you never need it.
Be aware of who to contact
When my brother prepared for deployment, his commander had them all write down their immediate family members including our names and contact numbers. These numbers are given to FRG (Family Readiness Group) personnel, as well as the Red Cross. At any point during a deployment, these are the people who are usually your best contact for reaching your service member with any emergency information. In many cases, emails or letters can be exchanged for this info, but it’s often a slow process and not always reliable. Make sure you know exactly who to contact in the event that something does come up.
We worry endlessly about our significant others during a deployment, but this worry goes both ways. They spend just as much time wondering if we’re okay at home, and it causes them more stress than we often realize. Having a solid and reliable plan helps to ease some of that worry, and it ensures that you have the support and knowledge that you need, no matter what happens.
Have you ever faced an emergency situation while your spouse or partner was deployed? What advice would you have for other families?