Part 2 of series
Single in the Military
"Deployment, Single parenting and advice from other singles"
I'm Already Home... Again
The Road Home
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Westminster, CO 80021
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A special note: Over the past 10 years of working together with you in the care of service families, many of us have become friends, and you share good news with friends. Tomorrow, September 14, 2012, my only son Bryan is getting married! It's truly a bittersweet moment because as all Moms know, this is the time that you really do have to let go. I'm discovering that it's not easy, and I can only hope that I've done the right things in bringing him up so that will be a good husband to his new wife. Sharing this bit of news with you shows me how working to create better families really is a "work of heart!"
Ok, now back to the task at hand. This week we're looking at the single service member and deployment, single parenthood, reunion and reintegration and advice directly from other single service members.
It's important for you to remember that just because there isn't a spouse waiting for you, doesn't mean that you haven't left important loved ones behind who care a great deal about you.
- Make a realistic connection plan. Don't "over promise" how often you'll stay in touch because you might not know your schedule until you get to your assignment. Once you can, set time to let others know how you're doing and that you're safe.
- Help others stay connected with you. Friends enjoy sending care packages, so pass along your ideas and needs for these packages. People like to know that they're sending you things that will mean something to you.
- Parents love handwritten letters. They reinforce a special closeness and can be reread over and over.
Are you a single parent?
- Before you leave, establish your childcare plan. Will your child be in the care of their other parent, grandparents, close trusted friends? Be certain you have a guardian legally designated (if care is not provided by the other parent) so they can oversee the medical, physical, and financial needs of your dependants.
- It's critical that you clearly establish the ways you will stay connected with your kids. They need to know that you are stepping away...not stepping out...of their lives.
- Involve their caregiver in your connection plans so it's a seamless process.
- Work with your child's school to keep them informed of the status of your deployment. Advise them of who will be the legal caregiver and how the deployment might affect your child.
- Here's a connection idea directly from a caregiver: "I am currently the daycare provider for the children of a deployed marine. I send the dad an email every day that I have the children, along with a digital photograph, telling him about our day...what we ate, what we did, and anything funny or new that his children were doing. This establishes a stronger trust above just the daycare provider/parent relationship."
- Talk with other parents in your unit and ask what they're doing to stay in contact with their children. You can do the same things they are, after all, you're all parents!
Reunion and Reintegration
When you're returning to your single life, it can feel as though life moved on faster than you expected and you don't feel like you fit in as well as before. Take a short breather and, as you feel comfortable, get back into the swing of things. You have the opportunity to be more flexible when you're single, because you're a bit freer of relationship commitments. This can be an exciting time of new beginnings and also be a perfect time to try new activities or take a different direction.
- Upon your return, you may feel a bit awkward with your friends at first. Keep making an effort and you should fall back in step with each other soon.
- Friends and extended family can't know as intimately as you what you've been through. Take your time, and relate experiences in a more casual setting like a restaurant, a walk or a neighborhood BBQ.
- Be patient with them and help them towards understanding
- Be respectful of each other's feelings
- Be aware that over time, your relationships with others may change and this can be a good time to establish new parameters
- Begin by getting your housing situated so that you can begin to reestablish roots. Once you know where you'll be living, you can reevaluate your career goals and financial interests.
- I know you're thinking of how soon you can get back "out there" with your friends, but remember to spend some time with your parents. They worried about you, your welfare, and your safety every minute you were gone and it's been hard to live in that constant fear.
- If they live far away, be sure to call frequently to let them know you're ok.
- If you're within driving distance, head over for Sunday dinner occasionally.
- If they don't live together, spend separate time with them both.
Tips from Other Service Members:
- Learn something new: Update your computer skills, learn how to brew beer, or take a class in an interest area. Some classes are free and it's a great way to meet new people.
- Get a pet: There's something special about the unconditional acceptance that comes from a pet.
- Volunteer: Volunteer in your community or with your FAC (Family Assistance Center) or FRG (Family Readiness Group). You have experience that others would love to learn from. How about participating in a Big Brothers or Big Sisters program?
- Rejoin sports activities that you were involved with when you left. It's a great way to remain physically fit and use adrenaline.
- Attend sporting events in your area.
- Volunteer to coach a local team.
On September 27th we'll spend time on ways to handle aggression and an entire section written for the friends and family of single service members.
**Reminder - September 30 fiscal year deadline is approaching. We have limited stock of "I'm Already Home...Again" and "The Road Home" on hand. Place orders early for immediate shipment rather than wait for a reprint. Call 1-800-780-0460.**
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