Friday, October 21, 2005


Do the Right Thing

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Some civilians might feel awkward around people whose sweethearts are deployed – not sure what to say or what gestures to make. I’ve been very fortunate, because even though most of my friends and family aren’t directly connected with the military, they’ve still managed to be wonderful support over the past 10 months. I can’t speak for the others left on the home front, but I have figured out a few things that work for me.


Say you don’t know how I can handle this. We all play the hands we’re dealt, and this is no different. I know you mean well, but pity doesn’t help.

Tease me for carrying my mobile phone everywhere I go and checking e-mail obsessively, just in case he gets a chance to call or write.

Complain about being apart from your significant other for what I would consider a short time, say, a week. Do you have an idea of when he’s coming back? Is he getting shot at? No? Then I can’t muster much sympathy.

Unless you’re ready to enlist, don’t tell me how great you think this war is and list the countries you think “we” should invade next.

Ask why I’d want to move to where he’s stationed (after a yearlong deployment, why wouldn’t we want to be in the same place?), or suggest he transfer to where I live. The Army doesn’t work that way.


Ask about him. It won’t upset me, or suddenly remind me of what he’s doing. He’s on my mind 24 hours a day anyway. Besides, I like talking about him.

Invite me to do things, even if everyone else is coupled up; most days I’d rather be a third (or fifth) wheel than not go out at all.

Understand if I need to flake out once in a while. There are times – when Sidney tells me not to watch the news for the next 24 hours, for example – when I’m going to be lousy company.

Drop him a line or send him a care package, if you feel comfortable doing so. He loves to see anything from home, and to know that someone – even (or especially) someone he doesn’t know – is thinking about him.

Share your experiences, if you’ve got them. In addition to
my sister (as well as my Service sisters), the other pillar of strength during this deployment has been a dear family friend who sent her sweetheart off to World War II. Not only is she incredibly encouraging, but she’s able to offer great perspective. He was gone for five years; they had only letters for communication. Let’s not even talk about how much battlefield medicine has progressed since then. Considering this does wonders to drag me out of my self-pity. (Best of all, he came home safely and they’ve been able to grow old together, and that gives me all kinds of hope.)

Finally, the one suggestion that I think holds for all of us: If you don’t know what we need, ask.