Deployment Toolkit – for those left behind
April 3, 2012
The most important frame of mind to force yourself into when coping with your partner’s deployment is this:
You have to get yourself through this on your own.
He is not your crutch, you cannot rely on him, you cannot vent to him. If you rely on contact with him to keep you emotionally stable at some point the sudden lack of it will knock you sideways and leave you falling with no safety net. Of course when I say ‘alone’ no woman is an island, and there will be contact at times. The person who fixes you when you need fixing will be you and the things you put in place for yourself.
Now that you are in the right frame of mind, what ammo do you need in your deployment arsenal to make sure you are prepared for every eventuality?
MILITARY PARTNER DEPLOYMENT TOOLKIT
Some of these will apply to parents, siblings and children too
A General Power of Attorney will help you deal with any finances or assets that he needs you to in his absence. I provide a free (yes absolutely free!) Power of Attorney here. It was written by a solicitor and needs both of your signatures witnessed. Should you require a more complicated POA with restrictive clauses, ring a solicitor. If you do not have a Power of Attorney, practice crying on the phone to companies and playing the Afghan card – however this is no good if you need to act in his larger scale interests.
Take lots of photos and make lots of videos. This is generally accepted to be normal behaviour although on a personal level I must admit I never look at any of them when mine is away as they reduce me to a sobbing mess.
A Lasting Power of Attorney – this is a more complicated legal document than the general one so should be sought from a solicitor. It will mean you can handle your partner/sibling/child/parent’s interests should they lose mental capacity. It is a safety net should not the worst, but the next worst possible thing happen.
Wills. Without wishing to bring too much doom and gloom, it is not just your serving family member who can die, you can too. Why not go and get joint Wills together before they leave? You can sort out their lasting POA then too.
Now they have gone
A little sulk is always on the cards once you have been ‘deserted’. Most people I know have an ice cream evening, watch a few DVDs and do not have any friends or family around for a couple of days. Then it is time to stop moping and crack on, much as you would like to go to sleep and not wake up until they come home!
That person you can collapse in front of, crying on the floor. You may not need to do this for the entire six or seven months, but it is important you know who that person is, and that they know you might need them. It will probably happen on a birthday or Christmas, when you are supposed to be happy but you just don’t feel like it. If ‘that person’ is there and you can go into a quiet room and cry on them, all the better. Some people break down on bizarre occasions – I burst into tears once when my boss asked after my other half.
A safe friend. For the ladies, a ‘safe’ male friend is vital. When I say safe, I mean rock solid safe. There has to be absolutely NO chance this person can have or develop feelings for you. You will be at your most vulnerable and needy at points over the next six months and you will need big man shaped arms around you. There really is nothing better when you are low. Even better to have a few different safe friends, but again selection is vital otherwise serious problems may develop. (See later)
Your In Case of Emergency Person. This is the person who knows exactly what to do should YOU be injured or worse. They should be marked ICE in your phone. They should know how to call your garrison/regiment switchboard, who to ask for, exactly what squadron/company your partner is in, his/her full name, rank and service number and all of your details. This is to relay information about what has happened to you directly to the UWO (Unit Welfare Officer) so that your partner/family member can be informed immediately.
Event Planner. Set dates to look forward to, meals with the girls, trips out with the children. Count down to those milestones rather than the next time you will see your partner or family member again. The big numbers are far too daunting and the smaller leaps will go much faster.
His Aftershave/Her Perfume and one of her jumpers. A friend suggested vacuum bagging them to retain ‘their’ smell. Try it – it really works! Perfectly preserved for your sniffing pleasure.
Have the house as you like it. No more compromising on style and layout of your living room, shove candles everywhere and have the whole room smelling of flowers if you wish. It’s your six months to have everything exactly the way you like it, so make the most of it!
A Planned Holiday. Book a girly holiday, or a trip with your uni friends. Tell the regiment/commando/squadron where you are going and how long for, but don’t let him being away stop you going. He should not be the only one getting a bit of sun.
Shoeboxes, Blueys and Customs Declaration Stickers. Stock up on small boxes, supplies of blueys and a whole reel of customs declaration stickers. You might need to sweet talk your post office lady!
Small scales. You will need to weigh everything you send so if you have table top scales that can take up to around 3kg they will be perfect. Remember, BFPO will not take anything over 2kg, and I have heard countless stories of family members leaving Post Offices in floods of tears because the person behind the counter wouldn’t accept a parcel weighing 2.1kg. For care package contents ideas click here.
Your girly friends. You need them more than ever, and civvy ones are just as important if not more so than your military-partner friends. Hanging out solely with other separated wives will blur your perspective and keep you too wrapped up in your partner’s deployment. Close civvy friends are key to helping you remember that you are a civilian yourself with a civilian life that existed before you met your partner. For ‘your’ six months, you need to cope as if your other half does not exist. This may sound cruel but it is a good way of putting a mental block on your emotional reliance of him and helps you to draw from your own strengths and ingenuity. You must be positive about it – you CAN do it, and your girls can help you do it.
One for the girls; adult toys. I need say no more.
Home phone Bluetooth. This is brilliant. You can get phone systems that link with your mobile via Bluetooth so that no matter where you leave your phone at home (upstairs on charge for example) the house phone will ring when your mobile does, and you can talk to whoever is ringing on it. It even tells you who is calling.
Car Bluetooth. Same principle, and vital if they ring when you are driving.
Polaroid Camera. Just a bit of fun, you can get second hand ones for upwards of £30 online, but really any camera will do. Why not take a picture a day or week and post them to him, or create an album of your tour diary photos for him to look at when he gets back.
What you DON’T need
The dangerous friend. There will always be a predatory male who cosies up to you during your partner’s tour. For some of you there will be more than one. It is very easy to reply to texts when you are lonely and it is even easier to agree to go for daytime coffees and use this person to unload your problems onto. USE YOUR SAFE FRIEND! You may be in denial about your dangerous ‘friend’ but deep down you know you are treading a slippery path that could end your relationship. You don’t want that, so go home, stare at pictures of your partner, then ring your safe friend (or a girly friend) and arrange to meet up with them instead. You’ll thank me later, I promise.
Wife-and-girlfriend-mass hysteria. This will happen every tour regardless, but for your sanity it is best to stay out of it. Unless the person who has been killed is the husband of your best friend, don’t get involved with the frantic texting and gossipy phone calls. It will only make you more worried about your other half or family member. Easier said than done, I know. Yours may not even have seen what happened, or been around at all. They could be operating in completely different areas of Afghanistan from others in their regiment.
Panicking over missed calls. They WILL ring back, you may just have to wait a few days. It could even be in the next ten minutes. If you do a job where you can’t have your mobile on you (or even on at all) this can be particularly distressing, especially if you come home late at night to two forlorn sounding voicemails. Have a tactic for when this happens – write him a long email or ebluey telling him what you were up to that day.
Arguing with him. Fighting down the telephone or via email over (relatively) petty things is bad for the pair of you. If you feel like ranting, write the email and then save it into your drafts and delete later.
What you need the most though is positive mental attitude… you can do this. You may have done it before, if you have, it won’t be the same but you will be better at coping this time. If you haven’t, just remember that lots of others have and we are all still standing. If we can, you can. Have a little faith in your own strength. You never know, you may surprise yourself…..