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The College Student Vs. Surviving Deployment


I had never had any experience whatsoever with anything military.  My knowledge of it was slim to none.  I didn’t understand the rules, regulations, customs, behavior, nor the different world that the men and women of the armed forces lived in.  In a way, going from quaint girl who dates geeks to a girl who is engaged to a geeky soldier…let’s just say it has taken some getting used to.  I can relate Army life much like I can relate it to my move to the Upper Peninsula.  I grew up in lower Michigan, relatively close to the city, everything was in easy reach and there was that blessed anonymity.  When I moved to the U.P., however, that anonymity went straight out the window.  You know those teeny-bopper books and T.V. shows about the ‘new girl in school’ where everyone knew her and her backstory before she even walked through those double doors?  Yep, that was me, and I felt like a sideshow freak.  Its very unnerving having someone walk up to you, give you the third degree then walk off and tell their friends and discuss whether or not you are worthy of being part of their little clique. 

I’m not saying that being the future Army wife is that cliquish, but it is entirely different from what I’m used to, add in the fact that my fiancé and I started out long-distance, makes it that much more difficult.  I’m not around other Army wives who can guide me along and give me a heads up on things.  I have a few distant friends of mine who are who gave me a sort of low-down on the goings-on in military life.  I have those who told me horror stories of deployment and the scary aspects of it.  I’ve been warned off watching the news or looking up Youtube videos of IED’s going off.  I’ve been reassured by my fiancé as well that I shouldn’t worry, that he’s okay only to hear later of close calls and other vicious stories.  War is war and we take for granted what our soldiers put on the line for us, what it costs to maintain our freedoms.  The price is quite steep and as civilians we’ll never fully understand or comprehend what is sacrificed, what our soldiers sacrifice on a daily basis.  The mere thought of what they put on the line literally puts a heavy weight in my chest. 

So, surviving deployment.  Distraction.  Lots and lots of distraction.  I remodeled my house and focused all of my energy on creating something awesome for my future hubby to come home to.  I wanted to make him proud as he had and continues to make me proud.  I’ve heard mixed reviews on the FRG otherwise known as the Family Readiness Group.  Some women have told me that FRG actually stands for ‘Females Really Gossip’ but their main focus that I have seen is not just group distraction with a commonality in the group, but its to inform which is what I barely got out of it.  As a fiancé I only had a limited amount of information given to me and as much as I would have loved to be a part of that group, I live too far away to get any kind of acceptance from them on a friendship standpoint.  Granted, it would have helped to have some sort of link but you have to take what you can get which is what I did.  I found that I received more information through forums and Facebook pages dedicated to those with loved ones deployed or otherwise serving as well as the distant friends from high school who married military or are actively military to be more helpful than the FRG.  Classwork is another distraction, burying yourself in your studies to deter thoughts of the apocalyptic nature to be probably the most helpful.

Another word of advice to those who are newbies at the whole deployment/military thing is to not take for granted the time you do have with your loved one who is serving.  Some servicemen and women have it lucky-they can get online whenever they want and even go so far as being able to play Xbox online with friends back in the states from what I’ve heard.  There are other instances though when you don’t hear from them at all and that time away can be nerve racking.  And when they do come online and you see that familiar green dot next to their name on chat while on Facebook you feel that wave of relief.  Sometimes they only have time for a simple ‘hello’ or an ‘I love you’.  Sometimes they promise more but they don’t have the ability to follow through with it.  Time is something that is precious and although you may have the want more, and even demand more, there is only so much that they can give.

Surviving deployment is hard.  Not knowing is hard.  Finding someone with a common understanding of what it means to survive deployment is necessary for yourself and your emotional and mental well-being.  Someone to talk to or some sort of outlet until they return home is something that will assist in helping you get through it until you have them in your arms again. 

Stay tuned for Surviving Deployment Part 2…the transitioning from when they return home and being just as understanding of the demands of reintegration


NickRajotte's picture

Well Said dealing with

Well Said dealing with deployment is definitely a hard thing for the spouse, I should know I broke up with 2 girlfriends on two separate deployments.  Well they left me i should say, but anyways I know how you feel, it can be a very stressful thing, not knowing whats going on all the time. Especially this day and age when we are used to the world of now, when something happens we hear about it 2 mins later.  But when overseas you may not hear from them for a day or two or maybe more depending on the circumstances.  I definitely wish you the best with you and your fiance.  It is definitely a tough life to lead and being a distance away from all the other wives that relate to you makes it even harder.  But just so you do know there are forums out there for military spouses that are pretty good and helpful you should check them out

Mercer Smith's picture

Life changes like that are

Life changes like that are totally difficult to cope with, I'm sure. I, much like you, had no idea what kind of life was required of people who were in the military. I didn't understand how last minute things like deployment can be, and how fast the people that you love (or you) can be gone. I am currently getting my master's in fine arts in creative nonfiction at a decently prestigious college. When I was going into my second term, I was curious about what new writers were going to be coming into the program. When I entered one of my classes, I sat down and was instantly greeted by two women who explain to me that they had come back from Iraq recently. Through the time that I have spent with them, I have really gotten a great deal of perspective on what it means to be involved with with the military. People who have been in the military, or are married to people in the military (as you are about to be) live a completely different life even after they are out of the service. These women that are now my friends are constantly being reminded that they are different, but not in a bad way, just in the sense that they have a uniquely tinted perspective on things.

ShadaeDillard's picture


I think you can do both. I mean I've seen people do both. Who Go into the Navy,Army ,Marines etc and still go to school while in that line of work, so I guess it's really just your preference. 

Me personally, I can never get the courage to Join the Army or anything. I have an Army Penpal who I talk with each and every day, and it's fun that way :) but I honestly don't see how they can do it, or why they would want to do it, Some are just better off in that work and some are better off sitting in a College Class room. Some can just go from one area to another, I can't. 


I have to have some kind of discipline, or structure . I just can't be home one day and then told i'm leaving in a week, i wouldn't leave, I just find it way to hard to do, but hey we never know how to get through something until we try. No I'm not saying go join the army, but if it's for you, then go for it :) Don't let anyone stop you till you have done what you have wanted to do , not what they want you to do!