We have a mama prepping for her child’s first deployment. What advice would you give her?
DB: Believe it or not: time will pass more quickly than you think; stay busy with volunteering, gardening, wherever your passion lies. Write letters. Expect delays in communication because if he is on board ship the phones and computers are in high demand–lines will be long. Set up Skype or Tango–any kind of video chat. Send pkgs with things from home (i put fall leaves in one), cards, magazines, goodies. Find a FB page for his deployment location–tremendous resource for information and support. When he returns he will have great stories to tell about what his adventures–new sights, food, places. Two deployments have taken my Marie (age 21) to places most of us never see…..so he’s made some awesome memories. Pray. And remember: no news is good news.
JP: Try to not watch international news and remember at times contact with service member will be sporadic, but no news is good news. Time will go very fast and try to keep yourself busy. Prayers for this mama’s soldier and all the battles ?
KA:I was blessed to get the travel to spend a couple of days with my son before they left. We worked out communication like making sure we both had Skype etc. and. On a personal level, I had purposely put off house projects until we was away so I would have those to help focus on staying busy. I also got out the calendar and planned day trips on my weekends off, close to home, to visit places I had never been (the local aquarium, museums etc.). It gave me something fun to look forward to and I always took pictures and sent them to my son on text or in Facebook messenger so he could feel like he was still connected to home. I organized “letter writing parties” with friends and family once a month or as often as possible. That entailed having them over for an hour and I provided pizza, paper and envelopes. All they had to do was show up and write him a letter to let him/her know they were thinking of him. Sent lots of goodies in the mail! I took a LOT of pictures and video on my phone and sent, not to make him feel homesick but to help him still feel like he was up to date on the day to day in our personal day. That is going to be different for everyone so it may not be best in every situation but my son was glad to feel like he was included on all we did.
DB: LOVE the letter-writing parties! Wish I’d thought of that several years ago!
SB: Read ‘Be safe Love Mom’ Book…it helped me deal and know what to expect of myself and others
RR: Have a list of 10 songs that have different meanings to them. This way you can talk in code. He needs a copy and you need one. This way if he wants you to know they are heading to a dangerous area he can message,,, I love that song XYZ, so glad I put… on my IPOD. Or for coming home in under a month,, I loved the song XYZ, so glad I put it on my IPOD. Or if they are being mistreated,, or if they had a death. With my Marines we even have a song that lets me know to shield their parents from the news. Or to sugar coat information I explain to them. Every family needs a code. They can be simple or detailed. It is a must.
KA: Great idea! My son always tried to let me know when they were headed on a mission and he would have no way to disclose info or communicate. He has another tour coming up sometime next year so I may have to employ this idea.
RR: Each of my Marines has different codes. You can use colors.. states.. songs. We also have a code for a buddy to send incase I need to be prepared to be there for the family.
AD: Stay busy. Find a place to volunteer. Mine was working with homeless.
KA: This made me think, another thing that is a must, stay connected to a great support system like this page. It’s vital for helping when you have “those days or moments” to have someone to reach out to who gets it and can get you through. In the middle of deployment, I found another Mom on one military page for our base, whose son was actually in my son’s company and platoon and our son’s knew each other. She had been through deployment twice and was my Godsend! We shared info privately through calls and she was a great encouragement to me. When our “boys” came home, we got to meet in person and it was just the most awesome experience!
KA: For real! LOL! Basic was a good prep for us too, just for things like deployment. It’s where we learned to live somehow through weeks of no contact etc. and moved forward and prepare us too, on so many levels. It won’t be easy all the time but you can do this and we will help. <3
CW: STAY AWAY FROM THE NEWS! Cry when you want you. Find great support friends and family. Time for me is not moving quickly but everyday is another day closer to him coming back to the states!
BP: Give them space. They have a job to do and need to focus on that . Stay positive….dwelling on what “could” happen doesn’t help anyone. Use FB messenger to leave an occasional I love you or how are you. Don’t hound them though! They will answer when they can.
VW: Read Psalms 91 over him and your family. Write him a letter and give to him if you can if not mail lots and lots. Find a hobby. Read the book. Be safe Love Mom (awesome book-military mom) spend time talking with God. God has you and your son he is prep prepared and you too!! You don’t realize but you are. I have done this numerous times it’s not a fun job but remember they are trained this is their job God has your son and all of Us in the Palms of His hands take pictures hugs and encourage each other. LOVE you
JH: I downloaded magic jack on my phone BC the international rates are usually high. My soldier has been to Korea, Kuwait and will be heading in the fall probably to the sandbox. He was in Korea first which to me at the time was horrible for me, but it really prepared me for when he went to Kuwait, by that time I knew in my heart that I can not do anything to keep him safe except for not posting what he was doing and where he was. Really all you can do is keep yourself busy, write and send care packages, Skype and pray to god that the rest of his platoon took the training seriously and that they have his back the rest is up to God.
CS Breath……..and keep busy
BP: If it eases his mind to think you would….then just agree. He is trying to get his ducks in a row and obviously he thinks it is important enough to ask you to do that. I wouldn’t start shutting down communication right now. I would also advise you to get a current passport. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and NOT have it !
CTD: Spend time with him and also Prayer and a lot of pics. I even gave mine a family dinner.
NB: Write write write…and have lots of patience..just remember just bc u have the time to write them, doesn’t mean they have time to write u…that first letter is a long time coming… keep your letters upbeat and informative about your home life…it’s all they have of home until they see u again… also…. meet other family members thru fb and base sites… most companies have Web sites that u can meet and share information as it comes in… and most of all remember it seems like forever but in reality..it still is a small chunk of time….
KC: We are experiencing our son’s first deployment — he’s been gone 9 months and is due to come back on US soil soon. My biggest piece of advice is to be supportive and positive with every phone call, text, Skype, etc. Even though our lives are turned upside down while they are gone, they are the ones that are leaving their families, their homes, their base, their friends, etc. all behind. They are making the ultimate sacrifice and they need our support <3
CM: Don’t watch the news!!!! He said 9/10 they have it wrong and I would worry for nothing. Pray for strength for you both and protection for him!!! Send lots of care packages. My son said he felt closest to home when he received them. I also sent him a pillow with a prayer I had written on it and everyone in the family had written a small message of encouragement. I also sent along a pillow case so he could keep it privately.
MDP: Care packages, Skype, email, text messages (at&t has an international text plan), holiday and birthday packages. I was fortunate enough to know the mom of my sons “roommate” in the sandbox and coordinated the decorating of their “room” for his birthday. Also sent birthday cake in a jar.
JW: Pray pray pray!! Give him to God worrying only stresses you both out!! I prayed psalm 91 every morning Jake was in Afghanistan. I honestly never worried about his safety because I gave him totally to God. He (we) made it through his first deployment. sent a package once a month and cards/letters 3-4 times a week. At the beginning and end communication will be spotty but I was able to FaceTime or video messenger almost every Sunday for 7 of the 9 months. At first I hated it because I wanted to touch him. But then I was just so happy to see him and hear his voice. Again my advice is PRAY it will get you through. Sorry this was so long!!
PWE: I sent care packages to my husband while he was deployed and I got decorations from the dollar tree that I used to decorate the inside of the flat rate boxes I used. I thought he might think it was silly but he loved it. Said it cheered him up 🙂
LCM: I used to wrap the inside of the boxes with wrapping paper for my son. One time I used little girl birthday paper just to make him laugh.
BLK: It’s different for every mom. I cried a lot by myself. But, not when I talked to my son! I wrote a lot of letters and sent his favorite homemade cookies and favorite candies. I’d send a lot so he could share with his buddies! Hang in there mom! It does go faster than you think! Although I know I aged a lot in the time he was gone! <3
HR: Get ready for an adventure and know that there will be tears along the way and lonely days but we are here for you for support and to vent anytime you want.
NM: Turn it up. Meaning use your faith. That’s what I do. My soldiers are trained, their battle buddies are trained. I just put my faith in my higher power to take over & guide them. He is the only one who knows. ..Nancy Meier I’m on deployment #3 with #4 waiting in the wings. I learned of faith when a local soldier was KIA. The chaplain spoke at his service about only God knows our day & time we are called home, the rest is geography. It doesn’t matter if we are crossing the street in our hometown or on a mountain in a distant land. Our time was known by him on the day we were born. Faith means turning up…
TM: Totally agree on reading up Gods word and allow yourself a place to pray each and every day not only for Gods protection over your child but yourself as well to BE STRONG! But most importantly HAVE AND BE PATIENT with hearing from him/her..it does take time in order for them to contact you. And yes start writing them letters even now..so when the address finally comes you can have them ready to get to him. Be thinking of things you can box to send to him and or his buddies. When mine was in Korea for Thanksgiving I made different types of cakes in jars complete with its own icing and a spoon and sent a box full to him to share…they LOVED them! Just things from home to let him know he’s thought of and missed! But don’t remind him all the time how much because it doesn’t help in him being so far from home..believe me he knows you miss and love him ALOT lol! Be mindful of his feelings just as you are with yours you know. I’m going on #2 dep now and I’ve learned that you have to leave it all in the Lords hands..you dont help yourself with worry and wonder..you only put a strain on you and your health!! If he hasn’t left yet..write him a quick note with whatever you want to say and tell him to open it on the plane ride! And yes join some of the groups! They are fabulous! Here to listen and give advise if/when ever needed, answer questions or send you to someone who can. Hang in there momma..we are all here for you! God Bless you and your soldier!
HR: If you can because I know I have volunteer at your local VA Hospital or VA Home to work with the Vets even if it is once or twice a week in the cantina that is what I do since I am not currently working it helps me it keeps my mind off of him.
JHM: I had my son leave me sweet voice messages before deployment so I could listen to his voice when I needed to!
RAG: Me and the rest of the family created a family private Facebook message group chat which my son is also part of, we have been able to share ideas about what items we have shipped thru Amazon prime which is great for free shipping and just last week we were able to do a group Video chat with my son, so even though we were only able to see him for just a couple of minutes , he got to see me and his sisters, nieces and nephews all at once , we can give updates on who had contact with him last so it helps with the anxiety of worrying.
KKL: Honestly stay prayed up and see your doctor for some nerve pills. My son is a submariner ???
CD: My son also. Deployment is different for us communication wise, since we can’t send packages or call and Skype. I send emails, he can check them when he ports.
LB: Check out the USPS overseas regulations by country as to what you can send and what you can’t. Pinterest has some fun ideas of how to decorate the inside of the large flat rate priority mail boxes. My daughter likes to send riddles to her brother on the inside of the box flaps. He gets a lot of boxes from his “corny” family in Iowa.
GG: Grab a blank calendar with big grid either on paper or make one in Windows Media or Apple iPhoto library or Google photos. Take a pic of something you both might cherish or enjoy or even pics from his friends fb pages back home (you secretly copy lol). Write short notes on some days. At end of month mail a copy to him. It gives him something physical to see and share when away from computer or phone.
Start a story link on that Facebook page you set up. As the days go people can add to it like a newsletter and can help keep track of happenings like birthdays or graduations or sports of kids or his favorite teams or he can add his adventures also. If kept all on one post it can be all printed upon return as a scrapbook for homecoming.
The pillow idea is great. I made a travel size one for my ex when he was on ship and used our 3 kids parts of their old cotton shirts and a fabric Military design on other side. His buddies loved it. You could use fav teams or a shirt you know he likes of yours that might have a cool saying or scripture he liked.
RCM: My son facetimes with his dad twice a day from Korea so much nicer than when his dad was deployed technology is awesome.
KC: Write some notes, or small cards dated to open periodically during the deployment
BDW: Organization all your important papers in a notebook with POA, will, copies of orders, rear d names and contact info, frg info, FRL/FRSA info. Passports, birth certificates, social security cards, marriage license all together in a fire-proof box. Write old-fashioned paper letters to him every day. He can read, and reread those for a morale boost. You can include comics cut of the newspaper, funny jokes from magazines, etc Send a care package weekly if possible with items to share. Search for themed packages to make it fun. Write about 20 letters, put in envelopes and number in order. Put in a larger envelope, seal and give to him to take so he can open and read a letter each day until mail starts. POA, wills, and important names, contact information is the most important way to prepare right now. Also, get passports and clear line of credit to use in case of emergency.