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Word Badger: And now some good words from our military

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August 28, 2014

The National Guard recently tweeted this practical advice to soldiers who are about to be deployed. It’s a good reminder that it’s not just the soldier who is under duress from being sent into a war zone. It’s the family, as well.

Some of the advice could work for civilians, as well. Here it is:

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1. Write Letters for the Future – You can do this with your partner or your child. Sit down together and write a letter or two to one another. Let them know how you feel about them, what you love about them, and what you miss when they’re not around. Seal the letters in an envelope and mail them when you’re gone.

2. Get to Know Your Family’s Support System – It’s much easier to leave for deployment if you’re certain your family has support in your absence, as well as help if they need it. Meet your kid’s teachers and athletic coaches. Get to know your spouse’s friends. Invest in their lives and interests now will help you remain “present” in your family’s life while you’re away.

3. Read the Same Book – If you’re lucky, you may have some downtime when you’re deployed. Stay connected with your partner by reading the same book or keeping up on the same TV show, if possible. (You can always read about episodes even if you can’t watch them.) Sharing a common activity will give you something to talk about during video chat sessions, through email, and when you get home.

4. Make Promises to Each Other – And keep them! This can be especially powerful for children. Make a realistic list of things you promise to do, like seeing a movie or going for a hike, both while you’re deployed and when you get home. This is a powerful tool that creates trust, teaches responsibility, and gives you both something to look forward to.

5. Attend a “Strong Bonds” Course – The Army’s Strong Bonds Program honors and supports Soldiers and Families in the Guard. Strong Bonds provides off-site family and marriage retreats to strengthen relationships and help you and your family manage the pressures of deployments and reintegration – together.

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As a former member of the military--it was long, long ago--I found this sentence amusing: “… You may have some downtime when you’re deployed.”

As I recall, there was always a lot of time spent waiting, which was not the most pleasant duty. We had an expression for it: “Hurry up and wait.”

For all you heading overseas, you might not hear it enough, but we appreciate your sacrifice and want you home, quickly and safely.



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