Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Our Normal" Between Deployments

Guest blogger Christina Piper describes how deployment affects daily life for military Families, even during the coveted "dwell time" when servicemembers are at home with their Families.  It's a powerful post with which many Army Families can identify and empathize.  Read more of Christina's posts at "Her War, Her Voice" blog.

I am thinking that we might be hitting our normal, at least normal for us. We still have crazy hours, and the Army is still a very active role in our lives but deployment shenanigans have almost disappeared.

It has almost been a year and a half since his last return from war. The dreams have stopped. I am not jumping at fireworks, and his jumps are not as noticeable. I am use to sleeping next to him again, and will rarely double check if he is really there. I am not shocked to hear his voice in the mornings, or as annoyed when my stuff is moved around in the bathroom. There is now space for him. There is now space for Us.

The kids are coming around. My girl lives for every moment spent in his arms. She watches for any opening to touch him, and love him. She is no longer crying for him at night, and looks forward to doing anything that he is a part of. Her laugh fills the air when he is around.

My son is still giving him a hard time, but there are moments that his walls come down. There are moments when he will cuddle up in his lap and chill. He can’t wait for wrestle time, playful arguments, and any sort of competition. He struggles with showing his love, but it is there.

I see my husband relaxing into this life, again, and there is a sense of peace in him, at times. I also see him react to the news that his guys are going again, and I know that he would go with them, given the choice. I don’t feel him flinch when I touch him, and his smile is reaching his eyes, at last.

I am beginning to let my guard down, and that scares me. I am enjoying normal in this moment, and I am waiting for the next set of orders. Deployment gnaws at the back of my mind like a rat trying to get into a seed bag, persistent and relentless. Guilt swims in my veins at every word from others facing the “D” word. I cry, and I know that that will be us again.

I fear the fourth long deployment. I fear it, and I know that it is coming. It is coming like the tide, and I don’t know when it will arrive. But I feel it lingering there waiting to break up our normal. Waiting to tear at us, and challenge us again. Waiting to put tears in my children’s eyes, and waiting to take him away. Waiting to take him away from us, yet again.

We will live in normal while we can, for as long as we can. I will breathe his smell in deep, for I know what it is like when that smell is absent for a year or more. I will be thankful for this time, and cherish it while I can. I will hold him in spades, wash his underwear, and deal with his foul habits, because when he is called again to war I will need to look back on normal.

More Resources for Deployment Cycle Support

Friday, July 16, 2010

Soldiers are Encouraged to Reach Out, Talk, and Listen

This blog post appears in the DoD Live Blog.

Army Suicide Prevention

The Army’s commitment to providing all members of the Army Family with the support and care they deserve is unwavering. Army leaders are speaking out to let Soldiers, DA Civilians, and Family members know that their mental health is just as important as their physical health, and that when they need help staying mentally fit, there is always someone within their Army Family ready and willing to help.

Army leaders aren’t the only ones speaking out. Those who’ve experienced emotional crises, sought help to heal their wounds, and have emerged stronger Soldiers as a result, are coming forward to let others who are struggling know that they are not alone.

Shoulder to Shoulder: I Will Never Quit on Life features vignettes and testimonials of real Soldiers, DA Civilians, and Family members who received help for psychological distress or who assisted an individual in need.

Designed to be used as a supplemental resource for the Army-approved suicide prevention and awareness training model, ACE (Ask, Care, Escort), the video illustrates how we can work together to keep each other, and our Army, mentally fit.

Suicide is not just a problem within the Army. The stories and underlying messages apply to all of us. Soldiers, Army Civilians, Family members and the public are all encouraged to watch Shoulder to Shoulder, and consider how they can live by the examples of these Army Strong Family members.

Have you or someone you know experienced similar struggles? How did you cope?

For Immediate Concerns

The Army Suicide Prevention Office is not a crisis center and does not provide counseling services. If you are feeling distressed or hopeless, thinking about death or wanting to die, or, if you are concerned about someone who may be suicidal, please contact Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For more information, visit

Back to Suicide Prevention

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Remembering Our Heroes as we Celebrate Our Freedom

The 4th of July is a favorite holiday of many in the United States. And why not? Celebrating the freedoms we enjoy daily is a great thing to do. From fireworks and family gatherings to cook-outs and picnics, Independence Day is a true celebration.

At Army Well-Being, we wanted to bring you some must-see stories about our heroes who are fighting for those very freedoms, even now. Take a moment to remember those who have sacrificed so much for the values we hold so dear.

Some great reading for you on this holiday:

Independence Day Greetings from Combat

On Independence Day, like many other holidays, Soldiers are given the opportunity to send a shout-out to their loved ones back home.  This is a great service provided by Army broadcasters, but not too many people know where to look for these videos. The Digital Video & Imagery Distribution System holds on to thousands of these greetings, so visit DVIDS Greetings and see if you can find your Soldier this Independence Day.

Remember the Price Paid for Independence Day Celebrations

For most of us, the 4th of July will be filled with family gatherings, festivals, and fireworks. While we enjoy our freedoms here in the states, U.S. military members around the world are patrolling deserts, flying in darkness, navigating the high seas and risking their lives in far-off places. This commentary is an attempt to put that aspect of America's independence into perspective and offer an expression of gratitude for all that American warfighters have done and continue to do.

Thinking About Independence Day

This blog post, from the Jane Wayne blog, is written by an Army spouse and reminds us to think of all our servicemembers on this Independence Day.  As we approach our Nation’s birthday, I am always reminded of the service and sacrifice of so many who have come before us. From the day that we adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776 until today, brave men and women have served, sacrificed, fought, and died to preserve it. Freedom truly is not free.

Happy Independence Day from all of us at Army Well-Being!