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I am happy to have another “Ask Kathryn” feature for you today. Today’s letter is from a 19 year old woman who is asking how to deal with military life, deployment, and PTSD when she knows nothing about any of it! This feature will be a little different as I have Aprille from Beautiful in His Time helping to answer part of the letter. I hope you look forward to reading both of our answers today!
I’m so happy to have found your blog! I’ve been struggling with the military life. I’m only 19, so I feel like I was thrown in the midst of all of this. Okay, I chose him and was well aware of his job being a (big!) part of the package. I didn’t grow up in this lifestyle and I don’t know anybody who did, so I really have no idea of how it all works. Nobody can help me, because they don’t know what it’s like. It’s such a big learning process and I have no idea how to wrap my mind around it all! We live together and I need to get ready for his deployment, but have no idea what to do! I’m way too busy worrying and trying to enjoy our time together. I want to be strong, but it’s all going so fast and I can hardly keep up.
I chose this and I don’t regret it, because I love him deeply and I know he does too. However, there is one thing that concerns me a lot.. I know that he has suffered from PTSD after his last tour and we’ve talked about the fact that it may come up again. I can’t stop fearing that history will repeat itself. Do you have any experience with that? Any tips about how to handle it? He won’t come back the same as he left and I’m fine with that, but it’s just so much to bear.
I know that you won’t have the perfect answer to all of this, but maybe you’ll be able to give me the advice that I need.
Thank you so much in advance,
First, let me say, welcome to military life! All the things you are feeling are totally normal for someone about to go through a deployment with a loved one. It’s a whirlwind of emotions and feelings and it all happens so fast it’s hard to know what to do! Second, take a deep breath. You can do this, just stay calm and know you are not alone.
I recommend finding a support group either locally or online. There are so many on Facebook and around the web that I am sure you will be able to find one. There are many other military girlfriends and wives out there who have been through the same thing and would love to help you and share tips. I also recommend doing some research. Research into military life and what it is like, learn about your husband’s job if you can, and get to know other people from his unit. Researching helped me so much when I was getting ready to become a military wife because I learned so many people were going through the same thing as me. It’s a learning process, but all-in-all it’s a good life!
Because I have written a lot about these topics before I am going to give you a list of links for you to look at that I think might help you:
- Pre-Deployment Thoughts and Stress
- 5 Stages of Pre-Deployment
- Preparing for Deployment
- Encouragement for Deployment
- How to Cope During Deployment
- 5 Things I learned During Deployment
- Deployment Ideas
- Dear Deployment Letters
As far as the PTSD, I will be honest – I have no experience with it at this time. However, I have a dear friend and veteran military wife who I asked to help answer your question and I think you will find her answer helpful. Good luck and God bless!
PTSD does not go away. It’s not about “history repeating itself.” That history hasn’t gone away. If he had it after his last deployment, he still has it, and he needs to be seeking treatment NOW.
I recommend that you both get professional counseling/
I also would urge him to stay in contact with behavioral health professionals during the deployment (weekly or monthly counseling sessions, if possible), and I recommend that you do the same while you are at home on your own. I know this is a simplistic answer, but counseling and treatment is the best course of action for a young couple. If your partner is unwilling, at the very least, I suggest seeking it for yourself to be able to deal with the effects of his PTSD.
Below, are some links to websites and some books I highly recommend. You may even want to start working through those books with your partner NOW or while he is deployed as a relationship-strengthening activity. Hope this helps!
- Voice of Warriors
- Surviving Deployment
- Life After Deployment
- When War Comes Home
- The Combat Trauma Healing Manual
Aprille at Beautiful in His Time
To my readers: What about YOU? What are some ways you have learned to deal with these things? Do you have any advice for this young woman?