What about Block Leave and R & R?
Right now, before deployment, you can hardly wait for the next time you'll all be together. It seems that your two week block leave or R&R can't come soon enough. Families who have gone through multiple deployments, sometimes find that block leave can present or cause some issues. It helps to address the pros and cons of leave together as a family before you have to make the decision.
If you decide to go home for block leave:
- Be emotionally and physically prepared. Don't spend so much time getting the house, yourself, and the family ready, that you get worn out or sick. Can you ask a neighbor to baby-sit to help you out?
- Discuss the leave openly with extended family members so they are aware of how and when they will fit into your plans.
- Have realistic expectations and recognize the stress that comes with seeing each other again. Please don't expect everything and everyone to be perfect! Small things will go wrong and the kids won't be little angels. Take this in stride and others will get their lead from you.
- The time will fly by so be prepared to help everyone handle the good-byes.
Plan your events based on your circumstances:
- If it will be too difficult for your serviceperson to settle in at home and then have to leave again, you might plan to meet somewhere other than home for a family vacation.
- Be aware of how small children handled the separation at the start of deployment and plan activities accordingly.
- Know your service member and yourself-plan a visit that will be enjoyable for both of you. Make compromises so you meet each other's expectations.
- If your leave is planned around another difficult or stressful time (birth, moving, vacation, family visiting, or holidays) keep in mind the challenges that come with those events. Adding a visit from your service member will add additional stress as well.
If you decide not to go home for block leave: You might not even be aware that going home for block leave could be optional. Some units mandate that you take block leave so you might not have a say, however, if there is an option consider your circumstances.
Placement in deployment: Occasionally, by the time block leave occurs there is only a small portion of the deployment remaining while at other times block leave comes early.
- It takes time for a family to get used to deployment and settle into new routines. If block leave is early, will it add additional stress to a transition that may have just settled?
- If the remaining deployment time is especially short, you might find it more difficult to send your loved one back rather than wait another month or so for their permanent return.
For the Single Serviceperson: (although the following advice may be relevant for married servicepersons as well) When you're home, you're as responsible for your actions as you are when you're in theatre.
- Be careful of the types of activities you participate in. Some can come back to "haunt" you.
- Watch your alcohol intake.
- Don't take foolish chances like drinking and driving.
- Spend some time with your parents/guardians, not just friends. They missed you a lot.
- Always take time for relaxing and rejuvenating. After all, that's what R&R means!