How do you celebrate Father’s Day during deployment?

This Sunday is Father’s Day. Around the country, as many families treat Dad to a backyard BBQ or a grilled steak dinner, thousands of Dads will spend the day deployed overseas. The military doesn’t arrange their schedule around holidays, so it is common for people to have a deployed Father’s Day. (Sure, I realize that women and moms deploy too! I wrote about them on Mother’s Day. So today is about the dads.)

When your husband is deployed for any holiday, there is a lonely ache that won’t go away, no matter how you spend the day or who you spend it with. It’s especially hard on holidays that are supposed to be all about them–like their birthday, your anniversary, or Father’s Day. If this is a Father’s Day during deployment, then it may be an extra challenge.

But I am here to help you through it!

Since my husband became a father nine years ago, he has missed a few Father’s Days. Including last year. And he will miss it again next year. It’s just part of military life. Here are some of the ways we celebrate, even when we are apart.

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When your husband will have Father’s Day during deployment

Send a care package

Try to mail something ahead of time to honor the occasion. Even if it is just his favorite snacks, some drawings from the kids, and a store-bought card, it lets him know he is remembered and honored. You have to plan a few weeks ahead of time to allow for overseas delivery times! You can also include “open when” letters, or a special voice-recorded card from the kids for him to “Open When it’s Father’s Day!” There are more care package tips here.

You don’t have to celebrate on the calendar day

After one deployment, where my husband seemed to miss every major holiday, we spent a week catching up on celebrations. We covered Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Father’s Day. Each holiday got its own special meal and card. There’s no rule that you must celebrate dads in June. In fact, some Catholic countries celebrate Father’s Day on March 19 because it is the feast of St. Joseph (foster-father of Jesus.)

You don’t have to celebrate Father’s Day during deployment if you’re going to be apart. So grab a card and a funny gift, even if you have to wait a few more months to share them.

Father's Day during Deployment

Try to connect

I know technology isn’t always available, and you may not get a phone call for a few weeks. But know your communication options. If there’s a chance he might be able to call, email, text, Facetime, or Skype, try to make yourself available. I’m not saying you have to sit at your house and stare at the phone, but at least keep it on you and make sure it is charged!

If possible, schedule a video call for him to see and interact with the kids, and maybe look up a simple game or online activity they can do together. If you’re worried about whether your baby born during deployment will have any connection to their deployed dad, then fear not: they can still form a great bond! There are great ideas here to help connect a baby to their deployed dad, especially helpful for Father’s Day during deployment.

Take time to honor your OWN Father

Since we have been stationed far from family for most of my husband’s military career, visiting either one of our dads on Father’s Day has never been a realistic possibility. However, I was lucky last year to have my dad visiting me. My husband was deployed, so we made the day all about Grandpa. We took him to visit the U.S.S. Iowa, a retired battleship open to visitors in the port of Los Angeles. We enjoyed a beer and BBQ festival happening there, then made one of his favorite dinners at home.

It was a wonderful day, and we made some great memories of my dad with my kids. I haven’t been able to visit him since then, so those memories have to last a while!

Father's Day during deployment

Whether or not you live near family, definitely make the effort to connect with your dad and father-in-law. If it’s Father’s Day during deployment, they probably miss their son or son-in-law’s family too. Send a card or some handmade pictures from the kids. Order their favorite food or drink to be delivered to their house. Call them, send an email, or write a Facebook message. Let them Skype with the grandkids.

Do whatever it takes to connect with your dad or father-in-law, no matter what your relationship is with them. You never know when you will get to see them again, or where the military might send you next year.

Are you going through Father’s Day during deployment? How will you celebrate this year?



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