“A Manageable State of Anxiety”

I was talking to a fellow Army Wife last week. Her husband was deployed during the initial push into Iraq. He's back in Iraq now, his third deployment to that country. We were talking about how, for her, the landscape on the homefront has changed to reflect the progress on the ground in Iraq.

Suzie, we'll call her, recalled how nervous and uptight she was in 2003. Communication was extremely limited and, if you'll recall, we were all holding our breaths wondering if chemical or biological weapons would be unleashed on our troops. We talked about living in a perpetual state of anxiety. Suzie said that was an apt description of the first two deployments. Life went on, but the tightening in her gut never relaxed until her husband was home.

I pointed out that she mentioned the first two deployments. "What about this one?" I asked.

This time around, "I'm in a manageable state of anxiety."

Yes, there's always a fear of the worst happening, no matter where our loved ones are, Suzie noted. But, at least for Suzie, there is a sense that the worst is behind them and that a deployment to Iraq is fairly predictable. I think she meant predictable in military terms, which is indeed a strange animal….

Interesting conversation. I'm curious, for those of you who have experienced multiple deployments to the same location, has the way you approached and dealt with these deployments changed with each one? I realize that deployments are like snowflakes, no two are alike, but I do find from regularly talking with milspouses that there are a variety of factors we weigh when deciding how to "deal." For Suzie, it seemed to be mostly about measuring how dangerous and unpredictable things on the ground are. For some of us, we weigh the actual separation, and all that goes with it, more heavily. Each of us are unique and evaluate different criteria, or rank criteria differently, so there's no universal or right answer. What do you weigh, and in what order?

About the Author


Andi is married to an active-duty soldier and is the founder and former editor of SpouseBUZZ.

She is the founder of the Annual MilBlog Conference. The MilBlog Conference is the premiere event of the year for military bloggers. President George W. Bush, U.S. Representative Adam Smith, GEN David Petraeus, LTG Mike Oates, LTG William Caldwell, RADM Mark Fox, MG Kevin Bergner, MG David Hogg and The Honorable Pete Geren have addressed previous conferences.

While living in Washington, DC, Andi was the Ambassador to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit organization which makes and delivers, free of charge, special adaptive clothing for wounded service members. Andi has worked with several non-profits to help our wounded heroes and their families. She finds that work to be the most rewarding and meaningful of all.

Andi strives to find humor in the good, bad and ugly of life and is a firm believer that laughter has the ability to cure most ills.

  • http://www.sgtandmrshub.com/ Andrea

    This deployment has been less manageable for me. It’s our second one and slightly longer (but we are Air Force so “longer” is a relative term).
    The part that makes it less manageable is, first off, my husband is a less safe location than the first deployment. Same “area” but different base.
    Secondly I have three kids instead of two and they are a bit older. They ask questions that I am not always prepared to answer. And they miss Daddy in real and difficult ways.
    The third reason almost seems silly but it’s real to me. I moved from our base to live near my family; it seems to me that perhaps I would have actually had MORE support staying at our base.
    All of this is not to say that I (the kids too) haven’t thrived. I have made every effort to stay busy and keep life happy and exciting for my kids. We have been able to experience life in a way that we normally wouldn’t have been afforded.
    So yes, less manageable but still manageable. Because that is what we military spouses do… we manage and manage well!

  • tankerswife

    We’ve gone through one deployment to Afghanistan and 3 to Iraq (albeit the last 2 have been as a contractor versus active duty). The A-stan and 1st Iraq deployments were very hard, in that he went when the war was still very active and dangerous. Not to mention, the guys were living in less than a rustic fashion, so it was months before we’d get a scratchy, echoing, buzzing 3 min satellite phone call.
    These last 2 deployments have been much easier to manage. We’re able to talk everyday, by phone and email. Heck, I can even call him this time as there’s a switchboard set up out of New Jersey. It still sucks being separated, but it’s much easier to cope with.

  • Sarah

    Ha…I can’t say. They’ve all been so different. Different aspects are more or less manageable.
    The first one: bad comms, the most danger, but little going on in my life
    The second: good comms, but way too much emotional stuff in my life to deal with well alone
    This third one: bad comms, me pregnant…the pregnancy occupies my mind and makes the time pass faster, but I am not sharing any of my life with my husband, which is rough
    They’ve all been manageable but in vastly different ways. I can’t really decide which one was “easiest.”

  • Apryl

    First deployment was anxiety laden in that he was in a nasty area of Iraq and doing a nasty job in Iraq. The fiasco that ensued him being sent home (and is still affecting us 4 years later) has been the worst. Our lives have been pure and utter hell for 4 years. The anxiety and the “hurry up and wait” phenom has been the worst.
    We decided he’d go back (he’s reservist so he volunteers) to at least make right what happened the first time around and in hopes of strengthening his career. Or at least bringing his crushed ego back into the game again. This time..safe zone..we’ll be able to communicate and we have expectations of what each other will do on his return. I’m hoping that this time when he comes home I’ll get my husband back..not that shell of a shattered man due to some woman and her power grabbing issues.
    This time there are 2 kids and the eldest is old enough to know that Daddy’s gone. The youngest will probably forget..albeit he has Brother and I to remind him.
    I’m more prepared this time..I think…less support but I can do another year. I’m strong I’m a MILSpouse. I can do anything.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a55c622e970c Love My Soldier

    Ladies, you all are inspiratino for the rest of us going through our first deployment. Most of your husbands have weathered the worst parts of the war, making way for less dangerous time for our beloved Soldiers. Hats off to you!
    Be blessed!