Ask any military family – deployment isn’t easy. It means being away from your loved ones for months and not speaking to them for weeks. Oftentimes, soldiers just don’t have the technology or time needed to call home. Still, military families make it work, and most will agree that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Once a family weathers deployment, they’re ready to weather anything. These soldier stories show that families can become stronger through the stress of a deployment.
Major John Miller
Major John Miller wasn’t there to see his eight-year-old daughter off on her first day of school for the 2014-2015 academic year, but shortly into the new school year, he gave her a big surprise. Upon his return from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan, Miller visited his daughter at school – unexpectedly. The eight-year-old’s eyes fill with tears as she clings to him in the video provided by WelcomeHomeBlog.com.
Dominic & Keith
Headline News conspired with these two Air Force service members to do something special for their wives and newborn babies. The news studio invited Lauren and Katlyn to come on the air with their newborns to do a “salute” to their military husbands. Little did the wives know that Dominic and Keith were backstage waiting to greet them after returning home from Afghanistan. Both service members were more than ecstatic to hug their wives and meet their babies for the first time.
PFC Hunter Taylor
The Taylor family is full of big-time Chicago Blackhawks fans, so being invited to a home game by the team must have felt like a dream come true to Jeremy, Christian, and their three sons. But they were in for a bigger surprise. Their fourth son, PFC Hunter Taylor, first showed up on the big screen with a special message for his family – then he showed up at the gate! The story doesn’t end there. After the game, the military family was honored with a meet and greet where they spoke with several Blackhawks team members and the coach.
Preparing for Deployment
Happy homecomings don’t happen by accident; preparing for the homecoming starts before you or your loved one deploys. Military One Source, a government resource for military members, suggests taking time to talk about deployment before you/your spouse gets on the plane. How does everyone in the family feel about deployment? How will you cope if you’re unable to speak for several days? How will you all get the emotional support you need – counselors, ministers, family, and friends?
On the practical side, it’s also best to plan for how you will stay in touch before the deployment begins. With several methods of communication already in place, you’ll increase your chances of getting in touch, even if connections are bad. Ensure that everyone has an e-mail address and discuss how often you will check your inbox. Determine whether you will use social media as a primary way of staying in touch. If so, what hours of the day are you most likely to be available to check messages? Get the soldier’s mailing address before departure, and send a care package while your loved one is on the plane. Mail is slow in warzones, so doing this will ensure your soldier has reminder of home soon after he or she deploys.
Prepare for phone communication challenges by bringing your own equipment. For example, magicJack allows for free international calls to other magicJack devices. If both you and your spouse purchase magicJack devices, you’ll be able to communicate over any broadband connection.
Writing Your Own Solider Story
If you want your own happy homecoming, now is the time to start preparing. View deployment as a positive challenge, something that will help your family and relationships grow stronger. Make all the necessary preparations, such as setting up e-mail accounts and purchasing magicJack devices, and get ready to grow together.