When Deployment Falls Through


The last three weeks have not been fun. The day before my soldier was to get on a plane for a nine month stint in the ‘Stan, doctors finally figured out why he’d been having chest pain for several months: major blockages in the arteries surrounding his heart.

Yet despite all assurances at the time that he would be permitted to deploy a month after his surgery, his commanders have since changed their minds. There’s no deployment in the cards for this house.

And with that we enter some dicey military spouse waters.

First, there is my new public relations “job.” It is my solemn duty to somehow communicate our official line to all of our non-military family and friends who are confused about why my husband’s photos are still appearing on Facebook when he was supposed to have left two weeks ago. No, he won’t be deploying after all. No, we are not happy he is home. Yes, we wanted him to deploy. No, it’s not because I hate my husband and love separation. Yes, we know he would’ve been in danger. No, we are not happy he’s home where it’s safe.

And then there’s me — so full of complicated and contradictory emotions that I don’t know what to do with myself. I am (despite what we tell our family) elated that he is still going to be here, where it is safe. But I am devastated that my man, who just wants to be downrange with his unit doing a job for which trains so hard and has sacrificed so much, is stuck stateside in a boring desk gig. I am excited that he is around for Christmas. But I am heartbroken that I have to give up my beloved FRG leader gig. I am so happy that my son gets to see his Daddy every day. But I am annoyed that my plans to spread way, way out in my bed every night were thwarted. I am looking forward to our uninterrupted date nights. But I feel like a jerk for being the only person among my friends with an at-home husband.

In the midst of all this I am still supporting my spouse, still cleaning up after my boys, still working, still trudging along – trying to pretend like all is well and like “semper gumby” is my favorite phrase, even though it most definitely is not. I’m saying things like “it’s OK, babe, you’ll have another chance to deploy,” and “I’m sure it will all work out – it always does,” even though I don’t necessarily believe them.

As we navigate this complicated and sensitive Army life time, I am comforted to know that other spouses have come this way before me — that I am not the first person in the history of the world to deal with a husband who had his deployment fall through.

And so I wonder: how did you get through it? What tricks of the trade can you pass on to little ol’ me? Please help a struggling MilSpouse.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • K-Dogg
  • Renee Q
  • Heather

    Hmm, well we were there. Last year, just after a rather big PCS move I had to call 991 at 1am for my husband (39 at the time) due to a very scary heart issue. Fast forward several months, he was cleared, by a civilian doctor to deploy. I left it up to my husband to either fight to not deploy or to fight to deploy. He chose the latter and his wish was granted. I was ok with it to an extent, it was the whole reason we had chosen to PCS so he could do one last deployment. So, he left. Then, I got a call I was not expecting 4 months into that deployment. He was being sent home for good. Turns out he had another episode with his heart. Much worse this time. It took a week for him to get from Theater to Germany, and finally to San Antonio where I met him. I have to say, no matter what selfish reason I may have had that wanted him to stay deployed to stay on track with this intended deployment washed away the second I saw him when they brought him to the hospital. The realization my husband was truly sick told me he is exactly where he needed to be. And it put things in perspective for him as well. While he had a heard time dealing with having to leave his soldiers behind, he knew, deep down his first priority was himself now, and us. It has been over a year now since then and he is still dealing with heart issues, but remains on active duty. He’s over 20 years already and while he’s on medication he has no issues. we know there will be no more deployments for him and he and I are very comfortable with this now. There never was anything special we did, we just take each day as it comes.

    • Amy_Bushatz

      Thanks, Heather. My husband is 29, under 10 years in. So this is going to result in at least a functional area change if he cant’ get off the meds. ..

  • Amy

    I think this is one of those things that people shouldn’t talk about. You say “we aren’t happy” a lot but then are grateful he’s home. My husband lost of both his legs, along with a myriad of other injuries, on his last deployment. I would give anything to take it all back. I’ll take the debt, the odd hours, all of it back. Maybe he needs to talk to someone to get over not being in a war zone. They all want to be badasses until shit hits the fan and people realize that going to war is not totally awesome. He’s still a service member. He’s still your hero. He still serves. Ugh. This is annoying.

    • Grace

      I am so sorry to hear about what your husband and family have gone through. No one is happy to hear about the injuries of a service man. Thank him for his sacrifice! But it isn’t fair to shoot down the struggles of others just because your struggles may be different. My husband and I are going through a lot of the same struggles in the article, and I can tell you they are very real! My husband has been training for years to deploy and contribute to the fight. He is willing to sacrifice everything, all he wants is the chance to go and show is commitment. I support him 100%. I know how badly he wants to go and do the job he signed up for and trained for, and I support him. I am happy he is home and safe, but at the same time, I am heartbroken by how disappointed he feels. And a large part of me wants to go through a deployment as well. I don’t feel like I can rightly be called a military spouse if I haven’t had to sacrifice time with my husband for the sake of my country. I want to be a modern day Abigail Adams (John wasn’t “deployed”, but they lived through the war and were separated for more than half of the their first 20 years of marriage)! I love my husband with all my heart, I am trying to get away from him, but I know how much it means to him, and so it is important for me to support him. If deployment comes up, it will be hard, but I won’t even hesitate to tell him to go and do it.

      Amy Bushatz, thank you for posting this! I have been searching for the longest time for articles about the disappointment of not having deployments. Everything I have found is about how to survive a deployment, but no one talks about how to support your husband and stay encouraged when he is heartbroken about not deploying.

      Again, I am not romanticizing deployment in any way. We have had friends die in combat, it can be terrible! But we both want to face the challenge anyway. We want to earn our spots in the military community. Right or wrong, my husband and I both want the experience of a deployment.