Deployment. That one word can mean so many things for people. For military families, it’s a way of life, something as inevitable as the change of seasons. For military personnel, it’s just another (very long) day at the office. For the general public, it’s probably a mixture of how movies and the news portray deployments. A lot of people have misconceptions about deployments and as military spouses, we’re often confronted with these deployment myths. I like to share the truth behind these myths whenever I can.
Everything is top secret.
If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me if I knew where my husband was, I’d be a very rich woman. There is the misconception that everything surrounding a deployment is top secret: departure dates, locations and homecoming dates are all shrouded in mystery, thanks in part to OPSEC. And while some of these things aren’t shared willy nilly around the interwebs, not everything is a super classified spy mission. Sometimes a deployment is in a plain old office building doing paperwork that doesn’t explode after it’s read.
I have always known my husband’s general location, when he’s leaving and coming home as well as some of what he does every day.
People don’t actually get deployed that often anymore.
Ha! Just because the war is no longer the headline on the news every night does not mean deployments have stopped. Every deployment schedule is a bit different, but there are people deploying regularly. I’d say every single day, but that may be a bit of an exaggeration. For example, my husband will deploy annually, likely until the day he retires. Unless everyone wakes up tomorrow and remembers how to get along, deployments will not stop.
Deployments are always to the front lines in war-torn countries.
I would imagine this was only true during WWII. Deployed troops aren’t just in the Middle East or other war-torn countries, although many of them are. It all depends on the branch of service and the service member’s job. I have a friend whose husband spent six months in Germany; another who’s husband is currently in Paris. Both of these were deployments.
Rare phone calls are the only way to communicate.
For some people that may be true, but not for all of us. Depending on where my husband is and what the infrastructure is like, we can Skype, IM and email regularly. This deployment has actually been the worst for communication. Gone (for the most part) are the days where letters had to travel halfway across the world in order to know your loved one was doing ok.
You can choose not to deploy.
Hahahahahaha. Excuse me for one second while I compose myself. Ahem. Ok. I’m better now.
People have, in fact, asked me if A gets any say in if and when he deploys. The short answer is no.
The long answer is that I cannot imagine a scenario in which my husband could go into his commander’s office and refuse a deployment. And even if he could, he wouldn’t do it because that means someone else has to be away from their family. Believe me, I’ve wished for this every single day leading up to him leaving, but so far, no dice. If you know of a wonderland where this happens, please tell me so I can get A to transfer there!
(P.S. we don’t really get to pick where we get transferred, either.)
Only soldiers deploy.
I blame Hollywood for this one because they don’t always do the greatest job at distinguishing between branches of service. Yes, soldiers deploy. But so do sailors, Marines, airmen, Guardsmen and so on. And let’s not forget contractors who are technically civilians, but are still deployed overseas.
Military families get used to deployments.
To me, this is the worst of all the deployment myths. It’s also the most untrue. Each deployment is different and we never get used to it the way you would a new haircut or a flickering lightbulb. Each deployment involves heart-wrenching separations and more than a few tears and sleepless nights. I miss my husband just as much during this deployment as I did during our first one. In fact, sometimes I think I miss him more. Him leaving always rocks my world for a period of time and I have to learn to be without him all over again. We don’t get used to deployments.
What does happen is we get better at coping with them. We take advice and learn from other military spouses. We get stronger. We get braver. We get more independent. We make the most of the time we do have together. But we don’t get used to it.
What deployment myths have you heard?