This month we honor our war dead, and by association, our veterans. It’s a time for parades, flags and memories, some of them not so pleasant. One phrase that puts a catch in my throat is “military deployment” because it rightly implies danger and lengthy separation. The emotional toll on the family can be difficult. It may well be traumatic if the GI faces combat.  

When their loved ones return after months away, the family has to resume its earlier form after a long period of improvised roles and arrangements. At least now, the GI is not gone for all the years of a war like in the world wars. And mercifully, new technology allows frequent communication via Skype, texts and emails.  

When Roger was deployed for over three months, his ship utterly disappeared for a 63-day operation. The only letters I received were when a shipmate’s father died. The submarine surfaced and the sailor jumped into a small boat from a surface ship carrying his duffle. A bag of accumulated mail was tossed aboard the boat – the only family contact our men had for those two months. 

When Roger returned home, I was ecstatic to see him, but I felt like I was going home with a stranger.  At least he came home no worse for the wear, if not paler – not much sun under the water.

The boat wives shared stories about how to make it through long deployments and the ladies softball league provided a sisterhood, with the Captain’s, XO’s and Chiefs’ wives as the big sisters that you could lean on. 

I like it when the Naperville Men’s Glee Club sings “Anchor’s Away” and they ask the family to stand. We were there, not physically, but in spirit when they deployed. And the reminder is emotional.

Visit this website for deployment moments