Deployment

Deployment ABCs: Ignorance and how to deal with it

July 21, 2016

The Deployment ABCs is a 26-week series where I cover every deployment-related topic, from care packages to homecomings to OPSEC. Tips, tricks and maybe a resource or two to help military spouses navigate their way through the craziness that is a deployment.  If there’s a topic you’d like for me to cover or are interested in adding your own thoughts to, send me an email and we’ll chat! 

Tell me if any of the following sound familiar to you:

“Oh did you hear what happened over there?!”

“At least we’re not actually at war right now.”

“Are you worried something will happen to him?”

“I totally get what you’re going through, my husband was gone all week for a business trip.”

All of the above are actual things people have said to me during A’s first deployment. I would nod and smile all while screaming internally about how stupid the person is because nothing they are saying is remotely helpful.

But I’ve come a long way since then. I recognize that people didn’t say those things to be mean or hurtful. They said them because they just didn’t know any better.  They didn’t know any better because they’d never had any experience with deployments or the military.  So I decided to teach them and saw a significant improvement in my interactions with those same individuals during our second deployment. Plus, I’d like to think that the next time they come across another military spouse, they’ll remember what I taught them and have a better interaction.

People aren’t mind readers, but most are open to being educated. But it’s our responsibility to do the educating.  And that my friends, is the way to deal with any deployment-related ignorance you encounter. So instead of smiling, nodding and being really upset later, here’s how I should have responded to each of those statements:

“Oh did you hear what happened over there?!” 

I haven’t actually. When my husband is deployed, I try to avoid watching the news or reading too much about what’s happening where he is because it makes me worry even more than I already do. So if you could not tell me, I’d really appreciate it.

“At least we’re not actually at war right now.”

Well, we may not be at war in the traditional sense, but there is quite a bit of dangerous conflict happening around the world. Deployments are dangerous now as well.

“Are you worried something will happen to him?” 

Of course I am! But I try not to think or talk about it too much because it makes me very emotional.  Could we talk about something else?

“I totally get what you’re going through, my husband was gone all week for a business trip.” 

(Side note: this is the hardest one to respond to.) That is hard and I know you’re trying to relate so I am not at all downplaying your experience. However, when you say something like that to someone whose husband has been gone for 6 months, you may unintentionally hurt them.  Do you understand why?

How do you deal with people saying things out of ignorance, not just during deployment, but anytime?

P.S. Sorry for the sporadic posting this week. I am still sans internet at home and Panera has officially named me as an internet moocher. Kidding. Sort of.  I’ll be back tomorrow with another really good Deployment ABCs post!

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