Expect the unexpected during deployment

  • Published
  • By Capt. Shilo Weir
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
When you are thousands of miles away from home, away from family and away from friends, the smallest events can remind you that you have no control over the things you left behind. 

The lack of control over events on the home front is even more apparent when big things happen -- that you could never, ever predict -- and you can't do anything to make it better. 

I haven't felt more helpless during this deployment than I did on a recent Monday morning when I received an unexpected phone call carrying unexpected news.

Did you know that there are five different types of poisonous snakes indigenous to the state of Missouri? Neither did I, until my husband was bit by a rattlesnake during a camping trip there.

Who would have thought that his vacation could take such a turn? How could I have imagined that my husband would be innocently walking in the woods to answer nature's call and frighten a snake to the point of biting him? As if the snakebite wasn't bad enough, who could have guessed that that particular snake would be poisonous?
So, here I sit, thousands of miles from St. Louis while my husband lies in a hospital bed waiting for the venom to work through his system. To top it off, I may have forgotten to mention this, my two daughters, ages 6 and 9, traveled to Missouri with my husband and are now scared out of their minds because something bad has happened to daddy and mommy isn't there to provide comfort. 

Comforting a small child and reassuring her that everything will be all right is not an easy task from my deployed location in Southwest Asia. What can usually be fixed in moments, with a big hug and a kiss on the forehead, took quite a bit of time over the phone ... especially through her hysterical tears. 

That is my sob story. 

I am stuck here, far from home and the people who need me, and all I can do is keep my fingers crossed and hope that it turns out all right. 

Thankfully, this unexpected chain of events will turn out fine in the end. My husband won't lose his toe. He will recover fully, with no complications. My children will have him back in no time and will soon forget the tears, and I can rest assured that I took all the right steps to prepare my family for any unexpected situation. 

My nation and my Air Force placed the call and I answered it without hesitation. Unforeseeable circumstances took my mind away from my mission briefly, but it is easy to return to the task at hand. Grandma has my girls and all the powers of attorney and legal documentation she will need to care for them -- even in the worst case.
The best pre-deployment advice I received was to expect the unexpected and be ready for anything. Taking the time to get your business in order before you deploy can be a long and difficult process. However, when you needed it most, it will be worth every moment you invested in make sure your family and personal business are taken care of. 

Five different types of poisonous snakes ... who knew?