Deployment Ups and Downs

I used the last of a roll of shipping tape on the last box to be sent during this deployment.
I used the last of a roll of shipping tape on the last box to be sent during this deployment.

We’ve reached a deployment milestone. This week I received the stop mail date. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, the stop mail date means military families have to stop sending mail on that date because the unit is preparing for their redeployment home. Receiving word about this date is confirmation that the light is getting brighter at the end of the deployment tunnel.

Several events this week put a damper on my enthusiasm.

The first was early this week when our doorbell rang unexpectedly. It was a sales person for a pest control company. I try not to panic when these unexpected knocks happen and my anxiety was relieved when I saw through the window that the person on the other side of the door was wearing a white golf shirt, not a uniform. He was a nice young man. I explained what the Blue Star Flag means that hangs on our front door. I also explained what the yellow ribbon around our front tree means. He apologized for not knowing and said he would remember that in the future. I felt better knowing I had educated one more person about the anxiety families of deployed soldiers can go through when the unexpected knock comes to your door.

The other events of the week include the news stories of soldiers killed in Afghanistan by an IED and a suicide bomber. When an events like these happen there is a communication black out period so the military can notify the next of kin of the soldiers killed in action. It is a period of anxiety, waiting and hoping you won’t get the knock on your door. Then you realize if it isn’t you there is some family about to learn their loved one is gone. As part of a huge extended military family part of you grieves for the loss of someone you don’t know, but with whom you feel an affinity. The reality is these stories aren’t highlighted in the news any more. they are available, but you have to look for updates. That means the general public is blissfully unaware of the continued tragedies of the involvement overseas.

As I wrote earlier this week, my son wrote to me on Mother’s Day. I know I won’t hear from him for a while. I try not to let myself ponder too much on the what ifs of the news from the past few days. Most of the time I am successful.

I have little rituals I do when I am anxious. One of them is to send packages. Since the stop mail date has passed I will have to find another outlet. The welcome home baskets for the single soldiers is one effort I will continue to work on through their homecoming. I had ordered some special pralines from a local restaurant for my son’s platoon. Since I’ve now missed the mailing deadline I will send them to the rear detachment office at Fort Stewart.

Last week the military blog site I contribute to, Off the Base, posted my entry about Mother’s Day. I was also interviewed by Bobbie O’Brien about helpful and not helpful things for military moms. I’d like to add one more item. Comparing your child going off to college with a deployment is not at all helpful for the parents of a deployed soldier. Unless your child is being targeted and shot at while they are at school. The same thing holds for spouses on extended business trips. It is not the same and not helpful to compare a business trip to a deployment to a war zone.

Writing that helps me vent, but I do hope it will help at least one reader refrain from drawing that comparison.

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