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Initial Thoughts About The Situation

From the moment you are told about their deployment, expect to lose control of your own thoughts. They say there are eight basic emotions and you can expect to cover most of them in the first 24 hours; Fear, Surprise, Anticipation, Disgust, and Sadness, pepper that with a good dose of Anger and then start again. For the remaining two happier emotions, well we will save them for the moment you get your first letter.


Throughout those early days your most common thought will probably be:

Why hasn’t he got a normal, safe, 9-5 job like everybody else?


For partners it is the news that you probably knew was coming but just didn’t want to hear it out loud.

The biggest danger is to let it take over your life and ruin the short time you have left together before they deploy. With all the pre-deployment training and preparations beforehand expect to see less and less of them as the date approaches. Time together becomes extremely precious and somehow you have to switch off from what is happening and make the most of every moment.


You will probably have a thousand questions, most of which can be answered by your Welfare Office, also use your Families Federation Websites, they are loaded with information and advice.  Most importantly, don’t think that you are on your own. There are thousands of other families going through the same rollercoaster of emotions as you are.


For Mums the love is different but with exactly the same feelings of stress. They are your flesh & blood. You gave birth to them, changed their nappies, nurtured them & did your very best to bring them up in the most loving, comfortable and safest surroundings possible. You were there to wipe the little tears and kiss grazed knees better. That bond never breaks. You have watched them grow through every stage of their lives to become the adult they are. Then they fly the nest and suddenly the whole world sits upon their shoulders. It was far from the safe way that you expected and hoped their lives would continue.  And now here you are, probably on the end of the telephone knowing that your baby is going to be in danger, and there is nothing you can do to protect them now.


For everyone, the first concern is safety. It’s very hard to think of something positive when you have just found out news of a loved ones deployment, but take some reassurance in the fact that you have every chance that they will return fit and well.  We won’t quote how many serious road accidents there are in the UK every year but suffice to say, none of us know what is ahead of us each day. Try not to focus on the tabloid statistics but think about all those thousands who return home safely to their families.                                                                                   

Being given the news of deployment might be by phone especially if you are a parent or a friend living at a distance. Emotions are identical but without the visual facial expressions and proper hugs and cuddles that are so important.


This can be a huge disadvantage but it will be made up in some ways. As a Mum I was convinced that the Army had told the troops how to do a “softly-softly” approach so whom ever they called would not collapse, with phone in hand, into an ugly heap. The chat doesn’t differ in the countless queries, answers and all the why’s and wherefores amidst various looks of woe and surprise. All of it interwoven with ordinary chat to make it seem more natural!  You may have to dash about looking for a piece of paper and a pen that works to write down flight times, dates and bits of information you may easily forget. It is essential you get all those things down.


My son did sound very excited about going to war and talked as if he was about to go off on holiday. That did puzzle me a little but to the Forces it is more of a case of doing their job in a different country. They know all the rotten conditions and dangers but they know they are a well-oiled team who are full of confidence and trust for their mates and bosses. From the day they join up they get into a lifestyle where they are taught to be aloof and not fall apart like us when difficulties arise. They are taught to stay calm no matter what. They are shown how to focus on the job for safety.


That’s a big reason they seem less upset than we do. This doesn’t make them robots as some ignorant people label them but very self-controlled. As my son so adroitly put it “Mum we aren’t always dashing about with a weapon in hand” A good way to think along those lines but much easier said than done. He asked me to keep in touch with his wife and daughter regularly, which to me was obvious but for him he needed to be assured. So assurances were needed from both of us for differing things. The call went on for ages with every second precious and when we did reluctantly hang up, I stared across at my computer knowing that was going to be used a great deal for contact to him. I am not the sort of person to break into tears but instead felt my stress bottled up.

If you want to cry then boo-hoo lots as its good for you. Better out than in. It is a release valve needed all through the tour!