Military spouses get through deployments by remembering priority one

  • Published
  • By Melissa Behnke
  • Mrs. North Florida United States
Some people pledge allegiance, others show it. That's why I am very proud to be a military spouse. 

Are we strong? You bet we are strong-we have to be. That's what I found out about myself when my husband, Lt. Col. Tom Behnke, 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group commander, was deployed to the Middle East for four months. 

Like all military types, a military spouse's middle name is "flexible" and we do the best we can with what we have. I can't say enough about our brave and dedicated troops and the families who support them. 

Here are some things I found helpful when my husband was deployed, and hopefully others will too. 

Do not hesitate to ask for help. Church families are wonderful at all times, especially during deployments or other difficult times. I don't know what I would have done without our friends from church. 

Often, neighbors will be happy to help out, mow lawns and look out for you. Many folks are very appreciative of our soldiers and want to be of service to a military family member. Thankfully, we can always rely on the great folks in our squadrons for help. 

We are not super heroes, so don't hold yourself to that standard. Do all you can-then rest, breathe deeply, pray and then continue. Be careful you don't get burned out because your spouse will detect the anxiety in your voice over the phone. 

The last thing I wanted Tom to do was worry about me when he had many important work related details on his mind. 

These men and women have a lot of strenuous situations they must deal with. When spouses can keep things together on the home front, things bode well for the mission and for our loved ones. 

Be sure to contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center. The center will be happy to help you with your needs. Also, ask about "Heart Link." They are an extremely valuable asset and we are blessed to have their assistance. 

I encourage military members to begin sharing all their day-to-day responsibilities: financial, insurance, important paper work and powers of attorney with your spouse today. You never know when you will be deployed. An Airman in our squadron had four-days notice to be in Baghdad, so be prepared. 

Who is priority one? It's your spouse! Be sure to take the time to send an e-mail, letter or if possible a quick phone call to your "better half" as often as possible. Things get hectic and it's difficult to find the time, especially when you are taking on your to-do list and your mates. However, it is imperative to keep the lines of communication flowing. 

Share your deployed spouse's address with your family and friends. You will be amazed at the generosity and heart felt thanks coming from friends and neighbors. My brother is pastor of a church in Texas and the church sent Tom and other troops practical and much needed care packages. Everyone appreciated them very much. 

If your spouse has internet access while deployed, set up a time for a "cyber-date." It is something you both can really look forward to on a regular basis. 

Here is a great exercise that works wonders and is useful for married couples: ask your spouse to make a list of five "needs" that must be met for them to feel totally loved, then you do the same. You may be surprised to find what may be a need for you is not the same for your spouse. Once you both know each other's most important needs, you have a target to focus on. It's a wonderful way to keep intimacy alive, no matter how far apart you may be. 

Marriage is a sacred covenant meant to be kept and not broken. Focus on the love you and your spouse share and don't let discouragement win. 

Deployments are part of military life. Tom and I have been through a few deployments together and during the time we are apart we always tell each other "remember, this too shall pass." 

I can't imagine a more noble and worthwhile occupation than defending our freedom and our awesome country that we love so dearly. 

Thank you to every one of our mighty military troops, overseas and at home. We are extremely proud of you and love and support you 100 percent day and night. The world owes you a great debt. We are forever grateful to you all!