So you may think that being deployed just means that they pack up and go for however many months but there is so much more to it than that. Then throw wedding planning into the mix and you have a nightmare in the making.
There are a number of things that need to be done from the Military Personnels point of view. There is paperwork, vaccinations, making sure all training is in date, preparing equipment etc. etc.
Now let me tell you about how it affects the partner/spouse left behind. You are the one still at home and you still have your normal daily routine to go through. I had a full time job and the 2 cats too. Then suddenly your partner/spouse is disappearing for 4 months (in this instance) and you have to take over responsibility for everything they would normally do too. At this point, I had no actual experience with anyone from the military as I didn’t yet live on camp or have any friends in the military or their families either. This meant I was completely blind about what we were and weren’t entitled to or what we needed to do. It was only by accident when dealing with an issue with the land line provider that it occured to me that I would need access to all of Pete’s accounts and service providers whilst he was away so that I could deal with any issues that arose. Under the Data Protection Act, I would be unable to access any of this without Pete giving me express permission with the company to do so. I don’t think you realise how many companies you have dealings with until you come up against something like this. We sat and made a list and there were about 15 to 20 companies that Pete needed to contact individually to give me permission to do anything on his behalf. Let me tell you….some of these companies can be bloody awkward when they don’t understand why they won’t be able to speak to the account holder for 4 months. It took forever to sort out. Then there are other things to consider, such as money. We didn’t have joint accounts at this point and so working out how much money we would need to transfer between accounts and how each of us would access the money was fun…….not! It would have been simpler if we hadn’t been planning the wedding but we were paying for everything ourselves and so I needed access to funds for some of the payments.
Then on top of all of this, you have to think about the length of time that you wont see your partner/spouse for. It’s not just the term of the deployment – they also have pre-deployment training which varies in length depending on trade, what post they are going to be filling, where they are going etc. Pete’s was a few weeks for this deployment plus the 4 months that he would be away. I also discovered that because it was a 4 month deployment, he wouldn’t get a 2 weeks ‘R&R’ period. This is usually where the Military Personnel can come home for a 2 week period during their deployment for some rest. This is only available on deployments of 6 months or more. I can’t even begin to explain how upset I was. Not only was I going to miss him and be very lonely and shoulder all the responsibility for keeping things running whilst he was gone, I was also terrified of having to plan this wedding on my own and the possibility of getting something wrong. We did discuss it beforehand but there is only so much we could cover in a conversation like that. It’s only later on that you see how much of the little details we never actually spoke about.
We also discussed contact whilst he was out in the Falklands and he said that he would contact me at every available opportunity. We had no idea what communication methods he would have over in the Falklands so he said he would check it all out when he got there and then contact me as soon as he could.
The last few weeks before he deployed were the worst. We had done everything we thought we needed to but then there is all the double checking of his equipment and uniform etc. Then there was the anticipation in the run up to him actually leaving. I tried to put on a brave face and pretend that everything was fine but the closer it got, the harder it became. For the last couple of weeks before he left, I barely slept and could hardly eat. I know how ridiculous that sounds but when it’s the first time you have had to go through it firsthand, it’s really hard to cope with all of the new emotions and responsibilities that go along with it.
The morning he left I was up early trying to keep myself busy so I didn’t think about it. Everytime my mind went back to the fact that he was leaving me, I ended up in floods of tears. As the clock ticked on and the time was approaching I actually felt physically sick. I’m not a clingy person as I’ve said before but 4 months is a long time to be without someone. We carried his kit down to the car and got everything loaded up and then it was here….it was time for him to get in his car and drive away from me. That was the hardest goodbye I have ever been through in my entire life. We said our goodbyes and he drove away……….I was completely and utterly heartbroken!