"Our heads are spun..."
The 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg can deploy at a moment's notice - literally within hours (to anywhere in the world) in a crisis situation. In response to rising tensions in the Middle East, it did just that.
Strategically, I understand the deployment - the current situation in the Middle East is a virtual powder keg and our forces sheer presence is a tremendous deterrent thankfully. But since the initial news of the deployment came out, I cannot help but think of the families and the situations the 82nd is leaving behind at just a moment's notice.
I keep trying to imagine receiving that call - "You've got 2 hours, you need to come in" .
My wife is a 3rd grade teacher and already does significant heavy-lifting with our kids - always mom, always a teacher, dietician, personal trainer, coach and basically unpaid Uber driver to ALL of our kids' activities. And THAT is with me at HOME - hopefully operating at some respectable level of contributing as a husband and father.
I get that call - I have to go. I don't when I will be back or what I will see where I am going.
I could not imagine my own anxiety or the anxiety of my wife or kids. I think of my daughter turning 8 next week and the indoor pool party we have planned or my son's "tenacious D/fouling" on the Y basketball court along with the other 5 & 6 year olds - I'd miss the rest of his season and likely much more.
I read one article this week that detailed one Bragg family - husband and wife, with 5 children. The call came on New Year's Eve while most of us were busy in some form of revelry (or trying to stay awake till 10:30PM in my house). They didn't know if it was a drill or emergency deployment - and it was a general surprise where her Husband was going. With 5 kids asking questions and all the hundreds of other things running through one's mind - she succinctly and correctly put it: "Our heads are spun". I do not know how they could not be.
This same story is repeated hundreds/thousands of times over - I would also recommend an NPR article that caught my attention as well: 6 kids, a parent dying across the country, the call comes, back to North Carolina to leave most likely to Iraq.
The level of strength and sacrifice of these individuals and families on a routine basis exceeds my own and so many of ours. Throw in an emergency situation, with this rapid deployment like has happened - these military families take to it a further extreme I would otherwise not think possible.
I think all someone like myself from the civilian world can do - is support, remember, pray for and do our best to put ourselves in their "boots" - to understand the emotions at play and how this is only the beginning of a potentially long and surely very turbulent "ride" for the individual role players of the family and the entire family unit.
To aid in this process, I would suggest taking 3-4 more minutes more of your time and reading this valuable article from National Military Family Association that details the phases of emotion that come along with a deployment. It really is quite enlightening and broadens your viewpoint that the effects of deployment start with that call but won't end for that family until well after the Service Member(s) are home.
We pray for the safe return of every single Service Member currently deployed or in process of deploying - with the same breath we think about and pray for the spouse, the mother, the father, that soon to be 8 year old daughter and that basketball-playing son.