The Challenges of Deployment and Beyond
Deployment can be a nerve-racking experience for military spouses and their family members. The unknowns can sometimes be unbearable.
In today’s military, it is easier to keep in touch with active duty members than ever before, but communication can only do so much. Sometimes after these conversations, spouses and family members are left to wonder what is really happening with their loved ones. In fact, studies show that constant communication during active duty can hinder the mental well-being of military spouses and family.
When you have the ability to communicate through the computer at almost anytime, breaks in communication can cause distress in spouses. The fear of combat and infidelity are major concerns for many military spouses.
If you have a loved one on active duty, you may be stressed, depressed, or worried, but you are not alone. The deprivation of a spouse supporting an active duty member can lead some to alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and rehab in California or elsewhere.
Battling the daily struggles of raising a family, maintaining financial stability, missing a spouse, and worrying about his or her safety can drive the strongest individual to the alcohol or pill bottle. There are healthier alternatives, however, for dealing with the negative emotions, thoughts, and feelings that come with being an active duty spouse.
Coping with Not Knowing
According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, long periods of deployment are associated with more mental health cases among wives of U.S. military service members. Some spouses are able to adjust and cope, while others struggle. This is one reason it’s important to network with other military spouses while a loved one is on active duty.
Meeting other spouses who have been in your shoes can give you hope, confidence, and peace of mind. It can also allow spouses to make new friends or learn new outlets for dealing with stresses. Some positive outlets to cope with deployment anxiety could include:
- Spending more time with family and children
- Picking up a new hobby
- Blogging or journal entries
- Staying connected with friends
- Joining a networking group with other military spouses
- Finding ways to support others
- Practicing yoga
- Receiving massages
- Engaging in meditation or deep breathing exercises
- Staying healthy (eating, exercising, sleeping, etc)
Post-deployment: Coping with Life After Active Duty
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction, and suicide are all major fights our servicemembers face after battle. The stresses of combat during wartime, witnessing death and physical injuries, and the overall environment of being in the military all contribute to PTSD.
Experts claim that PTSD can lead to substance abuse. In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claims that two of every ten servicemembers with PTSD also have a substance abuse disorder (a problem relating to the use of alcohol or drugs). This can lead to feelings of depression, increased anxiety, and other negative thoughts, feelings and emotions.
Trying to understand what your loved one experienced can be difficult. Trying to understand why your loved one seems distant or different can be frustrating. The mind works in mysterious ways, and the things that people see or do can stay with them for a long time, sometimes forever.
For returning service members, adjusting back to society might be too big of a mountain to climb on their own. This is when they need their spouses the most. But adjusting to your spouse’s change in personality may be just as difficult or frustrating for you.
For example, maybe your spouse is using alcohol daily to deal with his or her reintegration back into society. You may not know why he or she is drinking more, but the change is noticeable and can be unsettling.
Hope is available, however. If members of a military family can handle deployment, it is entirely possible they could handle another deployment, this time for rehab. Maybe they can approach rehab in California as another thirty- or sixty-day tour of duty.
If your loved ones decide to go to a rehab or elsewhere to end their addictions, it could be a great decision. Rehabs not only help people get clean from drugs or alcohol, they also show patients new ways to cope with their problems. Understanding addiction and how to cope with factors that might trigger addictions can help your loved ones stay sober for a lifetime.
Seeking treatment after rehab is also important. There are support groups for recovering addicts that have daily meetings. It is important for spouses to be supportive during this time. Encouraging recovering addicts to go to meetings to network with positive people is one way to provide such encouragement. As much as people loved and missed their spouses, it is important to keep in mind what they need at the time.
Military Spouses: A Challenge Worth Accepting
Being in love with someone in the military can be a difficult challenge. Living alone during active duty deployment can also lead to struggles. Spouses of military members might encounter problems of their own, including mental health issues and addictions. The not knowing can be unbearable, but it is important to remain strong and find positive ways to deal with your negative emotions, thoughts, and feelings.
When your loved one comes back from active duty, the challenges can become even bigger. Adjusting to life after combat can involve PTSD, substance abuse, and even suicide among returning military members. It is important for spouses to support their loved ones as they transition back into society. This support can involve helping them find rehab in California or other services that address substance abuse or mental health. These men and women risk their lives for the freedoms and rights that so many take for granted every day.
Almost every success story has a man or woman who was there for the person every step of the way. The military spouse plays a major role in the servicemember’s success during and after combat. It is also important that we appreciate the service and sacrifices of military spouses as well.
Simone Flynn writes about mental health, sobriety, and other topics for different sites.