Deployment Survival Tips for National Guard Spouses

Deployments are now a common thing in the Army National Guard.  Since the September 11th Terrorist Attacks, many ARNG Soldiers have been deployed one or more times.  If your spouse is currently serving in the ARNG or USAR, there’s a good chance they could get deployed in the future.  In the event that happens, I want to share a few helpful things you can do to survive a deployment (as a spouse).  Here are some deployment survival tips for National Guard Spouses.

#1 Accept the Fact That Your Spouse Could Get Deployed

Always keep it real with yourself.  Don’t pretend that your spouse (or their unit) is untouchable.  Accept the fact that they could deploy and probably will.  Don’t try to fool yourself.

# 2 Develop a Game-Plan

Before your spouse deploys, develop a game-plan.  Who will be in charge of the finances?  Will you stay in your current residence or move back in with your parents until your spouse returns?  What will you do for employment?  Try to address these big issues ahead of time, so you will be prepared.  If possible, draft everything up in a simple 1-2 page deployment plan and file it away in a safe place.

deployment survival
Deployment survival tips for ARNG Spouses and Soldiers.

# 2 Don’t be Resentful

If your spouse deploys, don’t be resentful or hold it against them.  In most cases, you knew this could happen, before you got married.  Try to look for the positive in things.  And whatever you do, don’t think your spouse is having a “vacation” on their deployment while you are stuck doing everything at home.  Most deployments require long work hours and lots of stress.  They are by no means fun.

# 3 Communicate Often

During the deployment communicate often.  Try to write letters to each other and/or send daily emails.  You can also use social media to keep in touch.  Another option is to utilize SKYPE to call each other.  There is no excuse NOT to talk every day.  All Soldiers have access to a phone or computer (if they want to) while they are deployed.  Don’t let them tell you otherwise.

# 4 Create a Support Group

If your spouse is deployed, you will need your own support group.  You can utilize the unit’s Family Support Group, or create your own support group.  At a minimum, try to find another National Guard spouse of the same gender to form a friendship with.  That way, you will have a lot in common with the person and can help each other.

# 5 Start Your Countdown

One simple thing you can do while your spouse is deployed is to start a countdown.  Create a countdown to when they will come home on leave and when they will be home for good.  Update your countdown each day and let this be your motivation to waking up each day (being one day closer).  Share “how many days and a wake-up” there are left every time you talk with your spouse.

# 6 Keep a Journal

While your spouse is deployed, consider keeping a journal.  Take 10-15 minutes each day to write down your thoughts and feelings.  You could share this with your spouse when they return, or keep it to yourself.  This is a great way to express your feelings and get things off your chest.

Final Thoughts

These are just six helpful deployment survival tips for National Guard Spouses.  The deployment and time apart from each other won’t be easy, but if you follow the advice mentioned above, you can keep your marriage strong and survive the deployment.

Do you have any other suggestions? Any questions? Just post them below.

8 thoughts on “Deployment Survival Tips for National Guard Spouses”

  1. This isn’t a popular subject, but with the Army, including UNGR and USAAR, becoming coed, the idea that your soldier might be over there “taking advantage” of the situation can be a real threat to a spouse at home, especially a newly married one or one who lacks self-confidence. We are all human, and a natural human emotion – for most humans – is a dose of the green-eyed monster.

    The day-to-day communication via skype can help alleviate some of this anxiety, but one of the most important thing the spouse can do is not listen to gossip. Many spouses’ organizations (including husband spouses as well as wives) can be huge gossip mills of whose soldier said what about another and who was seen together, and so on. Don’t pay attention to this type of destructive behavior, and whatever you do, don’t participate in it, either.

  2. Excellent list! It is imperative that you connect , and there are so many support groups and communities available, definitely become active with at least one. I also want to emphasize the point about not resenting your spouse for leaving. In this day and age, if you marry a soldier, deployment is a very real potential life event that you may have to face. Talk with your spouse about the possibility now–being mentally and emotionally prepared is most of the battle. I would also add, from personal experience, that monitoring news sources is one of the last things you want to do, as it will create more questions and anxiety about things you have no control over, so don't put yourself through it. If you have kids, your stress will transfer to them, so show them resilience, even if you have to fake it in front of them at a first, and they will learn resilience. Children respond to situations based on our lead. The more you practice, the more successful you will become. One other note, if you have a hobby or a job, become fully engaged. If you don't, then find one. Keep your mind and your hands busy, for it will help with stress, keep your mind occupied, and set an awesome example for children. If you have experienced a deployment before and have your own arsenal of strategies, please reach out to a "newbie".

      1. Candace Ginestar

        I much prefer to be the one who is deploying, than to stay at home. I think it’s harder to stay home if you’re in the military, because we know what it’s like to be overseas too. Staying busy is crucial, maybe make a fitness goal or something to work on while your spouse is gone.

  3. Nice post, Chuck. I am going to give this post to our FRG team during our next IDT. I think that these tips will be helpful for our upcoming deployment, especially for spouses of new Soldiers to our unit who did not deploy to Iraq in 2009. Good tips too for those who are preparing to leave and just want to develop a plan with their significant other.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Justin. Deployments can be such a huge strain on relationships. I tell my Soldiers that a deployment will make a good relationship stronger and it will also make a bad relationship worse. The key to maintaining a healthy relationship during a deployment is communication and trust. If you trust each other AND communicate often, things should be okay.


      1. Candace Ginestar

        Chuck, I agree. Deployments or other hardship separations will show you the TRUTH about your relationship…good or bad. It can be scary to think about, but have faith and do your best to have open communication and support each other…things always work out as they should.

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