Emotional Cycles of Deployment: An Army Mom’s Overview

Contributor Tracie Ciambotti and her son Josh on his deployment day, June 2011, at Fort Carson, CO.

Every traumatic event we encounter in life triggers a cycle of emotional responses; military families experience this emotional roller coaster continuously due to the frequency of deployments.

The Army’s website, US Army Hooah4Health, outlines the following 7-stage cycle that military families go through with each deployment:

Stage 1 – Anticipation of Departure: Begins when the service member receives an order for deployment and ends when he or she actually leaves.

Stage 2 – Detachment and Withdrawal:  Final weeks prior to deployment

Stage 3 – Emotional Disorganization:  First six weeks of the deployment

Stage 4 – Recovery and Stabilization:  Two months into the deployment to a few weeks before the end of deployment

Stage 5 – Anticipation of Return:  Final weeks of deployment

Stage 6 – Return Adjustment and Renegotiation: First six weeks post deployment

Stage 7 – Reintegration and Stabilization: Up to six months post deployment[1]

This model was updated in 2006 by Jennifer Morse, M.D., Navy CAPT (Ret), San Diego, CA because of the increased occurrence of deployments that military families experience.

Josh and Alison, his wife, when he returned from his second deployment in Iraq--August of 2009.

The detailed description provided in this model pertains to the service member and his or her spouse and children—there is no mention of parents in this emotional cycle.  As the mother of an Army sergeant, currently serving his third deployment, I can personally testify that parents go through an emotional roller coaster too.

Through a series of posts on this topic, I will share a personal look into the stages of the deployment cycle from the perspectives of various members of my military family: a mother, a wife, and the soldier.  I hope to generate an understanding of the challenges faced by the entire family as we experience deployments together.

[1] Morse, J., (2006).The new emotional cycles of deployment. Retrieved pdf June 28, 2007 from the U.S. Department of Defense: Deployment Health and Family Readiness Library: San Diego, CA

Less than 1 Percent: Who Serves in the U.S. Armed Forces

Darryl St. George, a Navy corpsman with Weapons Company of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., reads a book as the sun rises over a temporary base nicknamed "Patrol Base Suc" in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan. Photo by David Gilkey/NPR.

Meet a former history teacher who now saves Marine lives on Afghanistan’s front-lines or a Marine on patrol who worries that American’s interest is falling away.

All week, National Public Radio has been broadcasting the stories of individuals who joined the military to fight in America’s wars. Family tradition, patriotism, a sense of purpose – there many reasons for military service cited in  NPR series,  “Who Serves.”

Beyond the personal stories is the large picture, NPR offers a graphic look By the Numbers: Today’s Military. There are maps that show where military members are stationed. And, there are plenty of graphs like one on gender. The Air Force has the lowest ratio of men to women, 4 males for every 1 female. The Marines have the highest ratio, 15.1 males for every 1 female.

If you’re in military, why do you serve? Email me your story at bobrien@wusf.org  if you’d like to share it on the blog.

If you’re a civilian, did you consider joining and what contributed to your decision not to? Share your story by emailing me at bobrien@wusf.org.

Military Mom Collects Prayer Patches for Military Families

Military Families Ministry  (MFM) does a variety of projects to support service members and their families.  One of my favorite projects is our prayer patch ministry which is quickly spreading to a national effort.

A prayer patch is a small knitted or crocheted cloth that we send to our heroes, their families, and our chaplains as a reminder that people are praying for them.  Service members carry the patches in their pockets to remind them of God’s love and protection as they serve–I gave my son, Josh, a brown patch with a cross sewn on it the day he left for Afghanistan.

A prayer patch made by Sandy in Pennsylvania.

Family members carry the patches as a reminder of God’s peace and comfort as they await their loved ones return from war zones–I carry a red, white, and blue patch in my purse.  Chaplains use our prayer patches to encourage and comfort service members in basic training, war zones, and counseling situations.

We have individuals and groups across the country knitting and crocheting prayer patches for us.  Each patch is prayed over  by one of our MFM groups prior to shipping.  So far this month (June 2011), MFM has sent almost 800 prayer patches–most of which went to the chaplains we support.

Prayer patches made by groups in Pennsylvania and Colorado.

Our Colorado group is sending prayer patches to Josh for his entire platoon and we have already sent cards and patches to the wives of the married soldiers in Josh’s squad.

I have recently connected with a chaplain who is currently serving in Afghanistan.  He and nine other chaplains are ministering to over 4000 soldiers for a year-long deployment.  MFM is taking on the challenge of getting 4000 prayer patches so every soldier these chaplains have contact with can carry a prayer patch.  If you knit or crochet–will you help us?  Visit our website to view the guidelines and download a pattern or email me at tracie@militaryfamiliesministry.com.

In Their Own Words: Military Bloggers and Diary Writers

There are no known photos of Civil War soldier Cyrus Forwood, Delaware archivists used photos of Civil War re-enactment soldiers to illustrate his story.

Most in the military community are aware of Milblogging.com an aggregating website that lists more than 3,100 military blogs. But, it’s more than just a list. It’s a leading military-related blog portal but also accepts stories, hosts discussion boards and notifies members of interesting new submissions.

Military blogging in some form is not new, Check out the writings of a Delaware soldier who kept a daily diary 150 years ago. Diary writing is the precursor to blogging. And congratulations to the archivists in Delaware for sharing his story. You can follow Cyrus’ posts on Twitter @CyrusForwood.

Cyrus Forwood – A Delaware Soldier in the American Civil War
As part of the State of Delaware`s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration, the Delaware Public Archives is using this blog to repost notes and observations Forwood wrote in his diary during his time as a soldier–day-by-day.

Here are some other new additions to Milblogging.com:

Husband / Father / Sailor Deployment Journal
Written anonymously using an “Answer Key,” this is the daily account of a 14 year Navy Reserve sailor who has been deployed to Afghanistan. Strictly adhering to the rules of OPSEC, it is a raw account of the ups and downs of deployment.

On April 23, 2010, my husband was in a car accident while deployed in Iraq. Needless to say, this day has changed our lives. I write about how we’re picking up the pieces, Navy life, adapting to the civilian world, & silly things our kids say.

A general [military] lifestyle blog, I frequently share my photography/design, recipes, & adventures. I`m fairly new to this military life, but I enjoy sharing my perspective + tips and tricks to making the challenges presented fun and humorous

The Camouflage Keyboard
Strange, unbelievable, mundane, and life-changing happenings from a reservist mobilized to active duty overseas.

Semper Fi Parents
A chronicle of my daughter`s time in the USMC, as well as articles of interest to any thinking of joining the Marines, articles about Marine Corps history, boot camp training, military news, etc.

Household Six: Dual Military, Veteran, and Military Spouse Expressions
Personal views and opinions on military service, as well as other misc. subjects to include current events.

Ramblings from a Retired Shooter
A Journal based on my thoughts, experiences, and opinions based on combat experiences and journey with PTSD and other injuries.

Life in a Sandbox
Day to-day life of a soldier on a deployment.

If you have a favorite blog that highlights life as a military family or civilians working to understand military life, please share it. I’ll post a list of favorites over the July 4th weekend. Send your submissions to: bobrien@wusf.org.

Deployment Week: A Mom’s Realities

Tracie Ciambotti with her son Joshua Nearhoof, an Army Sergeant out of Fort Carson.

As a military mom, the one thing you don’t want to see or hear the week your son deploys to a war zone is a story of a fallen hero or a wounded warrior.  Unfortunately, I have seen and heard both in the last few days. 

Saturday morning on the front page of the Denver Post was the picture of a mother and a father holding a small child as they sat on a horse-drawn carriage which held the body of their son.  The baby was the ten month old daughter of  Cpl Brandon Kirton who was killed in Afghanistan in May.  Tears streamed down my face as I read the story about this fallen hero.  He had only spent two weeks with his precious baby girl.     

As hard as I try to control my thoughts and emotions, I can’t help but think, this could be me.  This is a reality of life as a military mom, when your child is deployed in a war zone, you know that at any moment on any day you could be the one getting the knock on the door with news that will forever change your life.  It is a constant effort to manage these thoughts and not allow them to take over your day.

Yesterday morning, I received a phone call from a friend who is also a military mom and a member of my Military Families Ministry group in Colorado.  She received a call from her son, who is an Army staff sergeant from Fort Riley, Kansas, and currently deployed in Iraq.  His location was hit by mortar attacks overnight and he was injured in the attack.  He is now in Germany being treated and prepared for transport to the states. We are so thankful that he is alive and was able to make that call home–but we know he has a long road of recovery ahead of him.  He has a wife and two small children, who–along with his parents–wait anxiously to hear where he will be transported to so they can join him.  

These events are harsh reminders of the possibilities that exist this next year as my son serves in Afghanistan.  I could be facing either  of these situations; however, I must choose not to focus on the what-ifs because they are nothing but a trap for fear and heartache .

MacDill Air Force Base Marks an Early Memorial Day

MacDill Air Force Base personnel remembered their fallen comrades during an early Memorial Day ceremony.

By Alex Cook

Memorial Day isn’t until Monday, but members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marines held a ceremony on MacDill Air Force Base Thursday honoring those who have died serving their country.

The mood was somber as the military formation gathered under the American flag. A 21-gun salute pierced the silence, followed by a lone bugler playing Taps.

Colonel Lenny Richoux, commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing, led the tribute by presenting a wreath in honor of those who gave their lives for their country.

“All who have worn the uniform know we swear to support and defend the Constitution and we’ll pay the ultimate price – make the ultimate sacrifice,” said Richoux during his speech. “These great Americans and thousands like them who heard the calling of their nation gave all they had so that we can enjoy this beautiful day in Tampa Bay in the great state of Florida, in these United States, the greatest nation on the planet.”

A steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center sat on display as a reminder of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have claimed the lives of almost 6000 service members over the last decade.

Florida Military Receives Additional Property Tax Break

Military families living in Florida who already receive a state homestead exemption could also qualify for additional property tax breaks.

Soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division patrol a small village during an air assault mission in eastern Afghanistan, Nov. 4, 2008. (Photo by Spc. Mary L. Gonzalez, CJTF-101 Public Affairs)

In November, voters passed Amendment 2 to the Florida Constitution creating the additional homestead exemption for active duty military, military reserves, U.S. Coast Guard and its reserves, and the Florida National Guard who deployed for Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, or New Dawn.

This new exemption is not a set dollar amount, instead it is a percentage based on the amount of time the service-member was deployed during the previous year.

The new military service exemption applies to 2011 property taxes, but applications must be received by the June 1, 2011 deadline.

A SUMMARY OF NEW EXEMPTION (courtesy of the Pinellas County Property Appraiser) although it applies statewide:

Who qualifies?

  • A service member who currently receives a homestead exemption; AND
  • Who was deployed during 2010 on active duty outside the US, Alaska or Hawaii; AND
  • Who served in Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, OR New Dawn
  • This exemption is state-wide, so contact the Property Appraiser in your county.

A service member’s spouse or designee, or a representative of his or her estate, may file an application on behalf of an eligible service member.

A PDF copy of the Florida Department of Revenue application form is available here.

In addition, another, separate constitutional amendment will be placed on the ballot in 2012 that would expand the availability of the combat-related disabled veterans discount to veterans who are over 65 and who entered the military while a resident of another state. Currently, the discount is only available to veterans who were residents of Florida when they entered the military.

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