Working in the Military

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Military deployment for boyfriend - how to handle?

April 2006

My boyfriend has been redeployed to the Middle East and I am having a tougher time handling it than I had imagined. How do other people deal with this? He is an infantryman in the National Guard with a year left in his contract. He doesn't want to be deployed and actually has some physical issues leftover from his last deployment, but he is committed to honoring his contract. I never supported the Iraq war, never dreamed that my soulmate would be in the military and am really scared he'll be killed. He was nearly killed (saved by body armor) on his first deployment last year and is lucky to be alive and have both legs.

I am grateful he is not being deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq and his orders say his contract cannot be extended (so he can resign next year). But I've heard that in the Middle East many military deaths are simply related to traffic accidents, so that scares me, too.

In the short time we have known each other, he has made me happier than I ever thought a person could make me. We spend more time together than most couples and are more in love than ever. We plan to spend the rest of our lives together. But now that he has deployment orders I feel like crying all the time. I probably cried three times over the past couple of years (if that), so this is not like me.

I want to make the most of our last times together, for his sake as well as mine, but I can't get past the fact that he's deploying. I'm also aghast that he didn't try to get a Title X job as soon as he returned from his first deployment (this would have kept him from being redeployed). I just can't get it out of my head, not even when we're making love. I've dated another man with a life-threatening condition and it was never like this. I just can't imagine living my life as I did before I met this person. I'd appreciate any advice from others who have dealt with this or just have experience dealing with grief/fear/worry in general -- I know he's not dead, but I'm pretty sure I'm grieving right now as though he's never coming back. i want to be dry-eyed and smiling

Your post struck a chord with me. My husband has been in the military for 10 years and the past 5 years have been especially tough. My husband was deployed to Kuwait the day after 9-11. He was gone for 6 months. Over the past 4 years he has been deployed 5 times, always to the middle east. He is a special forces pilot and always in harms way.

I understand when you say you are grieving as though he will not come back. Unfortunately, this is a real consideration. My husband and I have been very open in talking about this possibility. We have expressed to each other what I would do and what he would want for me to do if that were to happen. It is one of the toughest conversations I have ever had, but it gave me peace.

You also said you were aghast that he didn't take a Title X job after the first deployment. I understand. My husbands commitment ended 2 years ago, but he still stays. His reason is this- he has a commitment to the people he works with. They train together. He is an integral part of their team and they count on him. In combat, they all rely on each other for their survival. He takes their lives as seriously as he does his own and I respect him and love him more for it.

My daily advice for getting through the deployment is this - do not watch the news. It is sensationalized. Anything you need to know will come directly from your boyfriend or his unit. Make sure you are on his contact list. Also, get in touch with the family readiness contact at his unit. There are often support groups for family during deployments. They help out a lot. There are get-togethers for dinners, informational meetings, putting care packages together, and organizing the party upon their safe return. You may find some comfort in their numbers - the Bay Area isnt exactly military-friendly.

Like you, I do not support this war. I do, however, support the men, women, husbands, mothers, sisters and brothers who are there. If you love this man like you say you do, the best thing you can do is support him and his courageous heart. It is not easy for him to leave you, either. Make sure he knows you are strong enough to get through the deployment and be here for him when he gets back. I'll be praying for you