Wednesday, September 21, 2005

It's Your Turn, Boys

It's Wednesday, and by now, ya'll should know that means it's Seven Inches of Service day. Last week, we wrote advice to the girlfriends left at home during a deployment or the ones pereparing for a deployment. This week's list is for you soldiers out there. Everything that follows has been tested in my own life. Go read the rest of today's posts!!
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Clark and I actually went through the deployment together with minimal drama between us. The outside world presented quite a bit of stress, but our relationship moved along pretty smoothly. So here ya go:

  1. When you start out this deployment process, there is an important decision to be made. Do you want to be in a long distance relationship in the first place? If you are going to commit to a relationship, then do it; if you don't want to that is your choice, but don't fake it...there are plenty of girls who will just be a pen pal if all you want is mail. Be upfront with your girlfriend about what you really want.

  2. Along those lines, know that trust is important. Obviously, trust is important in all relationships, but even more so in relationships that last through deployments. You have to be able to trust each other completely, otherwise you will be consumed with doubt and that is a recipe for trouble. If you want her to trust you; you've gotta trust her too. Don't get bogged down by officers or friends who tell you that all girls cheat while their soldiers are gone. Yes, some do. But the vast majority don't...wouldn't even dream of it. Have faith in the girl you love; she is going to do the same for you.

  3. Realize that you have a "war face", recognize what what your war face looks like and how it manifests itself. Please try to understand the effect it has on those around you. We know that you have to put on your war face, and that it will make you distant. That's how it has to be, and we all accept that; but it's not an easy concept to grasp until you've lived it. Please be aware of that fact and don't judge your girlfriend too harshly. It's frightening to watch the man you love completely change in the beat of a heart...and it takes some getting used to. But don't take that to mean that we can't handle you or your deployment...we can. We haven't been brainwashed or misled and we willingly choose to endure the deployment from within the silent ranks because we love you. We choose to be with you the same way you have chosen to be with us.

  4. I have said it hundreds of times, and ya'll will probably hear it at least that many times more: Communication is of paramount importance. That said, communicate whenever you can. Letters, emails, phone calls, photos...utilize whatever means are at your disposal. You don't have to be a prolific letter writer to make this work, but put some effort into it. When Clark was gone, I wrote him about three or four letters a week. In return, I got about one letter every six weeks. But that was ok, because I knew that it wa all the letter writing he could do, and as long as he was making an effort, then I didn't mind that I was sending more mail then I received. For the record, emails (while nice and appreciated) do not make up for hearing your voice if you have access to phones. Clark was very diligent about calling at least once every phone day, frequently he would call two or three times on phone day; that made the intervening days much more bearable for both of us.

  5. Probably the most helpful thing that Clark and I did before he left was to develop a code or system between us so that we could stay aprised of each other's lives without breaking OPSEC. We worked out words to let each other know that we were alright, one to say that things were crazy, phrases to let each other know what we could expect to hear in the next few days, good and bad. We also wrote coded phrases in our letters to each other so we could discuss an event without ever using words that would have outside meaning or repercussions...we weren't about to be the ones responsible for having phone day cut short.

Clark's deployment was tough on us; no mistaking that. But, it was definitely made easier by following the steps listed above. We had few disagreements, and we learned a lot along the way. Deployments are never simple, but they aren't impossible either...and they can make your bond unshakable.