To all the dependents onboard Naval Air Station Lemoore, you know all too well the complexities and challenges that you confront, particularly when the sponsor deploys. Partners and families left behind during a deployment often feel like they are alone and that nobody understands what they are going through.
Deployments are difficult for everyone. The times leading up to, during, and after your Sailor returns are stressful for all those involved, and every experience is different. Even spouses who are in the same command will have different experiences and feelings. Some “seasoned” spouses may seem to be having an easy time when most likely they have learned to deal with issues in a manner transparent to others.
Stressors will happen. The refrigerator will stop working, the car needs to be towed or even something as simple as a child's homework can make the stress of daily life overwhelming. Find support in other spouses. They understand what it is like to be a single parent or someone without their partner to help take care of things. There are lots of different ways to connect with other spouses such as through command functions or events happening on base. We all know that life does not stop while your Sailor is gone.
The Fleet and Family Support Center also has the tools to assist you with the challenges of deployment. There are classes and counselors there to help you.
Take the time, even if your spouse is home, to check with yourself on how YOU are doing physically, emotionally, and mentally. If need be, take 20 minutes for yourself to focus on what is going on with you. There are services available to assist you. Ask for the assistance, it is there for a reason. Your ombudsmen are there to assist you and are a solid source of compassion, understanding and knowledge.
When you are discussing a homecoming with children or others, please be mindful of Operational Security (OPSEC) safety measures. Certain dates and missions can NOT be discussed. These rules are in place to keep you, your military member and our country safe and secure. OPSEC has never been more important than in this age of texts, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. The general ‘rule of thumb’ is to remember the enemy is always watching or listening. For those of you who have children that are active on social media, we seek your support by helping convey to them the unique considerations bestowed upon them as a result of being military-connected kids.
Remember: “Loose lips sink ships” and “Loose tweets sink Fleets.” When putting anything on the internet, no matter how insignificant, remember it can be linked to another seemingly insignificant post and another and another until that “secret” mission, or that departure/return date, is not secret anymore. If in doubt, leave it out. NOTHING on the internet is private. Just this week media reports are circulating pertaining to a significant bug that has been discovered in FaceTime for those who use those products. It is spreading virally over social media and experts are recommending that users disable their FaceTime feature on all of their Apple platforms.
This goes for emails to your military member as well. Any code can be broken. Talking about birthdates, anniversaries, and even sporting events can give adversaries clues about a mission. Not all deployments are secret. Your service member should tell you what can and cannot be shared. If they have told you not to share – DO NOT share.
Finally, remember homecoming can be as stressful as the beginning of the deployment. The initial reaction can be one of elation and joy with having your spouse/partner/mom/dad home again after being gone for an extended period of time. However, expectations of how the homecoming is “supposed to” go may fall short of the actual homecoming. Young children especially may take a longer time to get to know the homecoming parent again. Family members may be angry at the service member for being gone. Homecomings are a joyous occasion, but the reintegration of a family member into the regular everyday routine can be difficult. Communication is, as always, key. Talking with your Sailor about everyday happenings while they are gone can help. Ultimately, know that there are many resources available to you and your family. Please take advantage of them should you need them.