Book Review: Journey Through Deployment
Military spouses know that at some point they will probably have to face a deployment. But when deployment orders come, it is always a shock and an emotional roller-coaster. No matter how long you have been married, whether you have children, or which branch your spouse serves, deployments are one of the most challenging parts of military life.
The best support during deployment comes from other military spouses who have been through it before. Whether their stories are positive advice or frustrating anecdotes, it is encouraging to talk to someone who has been in your shoes before. That’s what makes ‘Journey Through Deployment,’ by Kathryn Sneed, such a great book. Sneed is an Air Force spouse who shares the trials and joys of her first 7-month deployment.
“Cry if you must, be angry if you must, but know that you are NOT alone. Take a deep breath. You can do this. You will learn how to get through the roller coaster of feelings and emotions that come when you first get the news. You will learn how to accept and embrace it.” P. 14
The “Journey Through Deployment” Book includes personal stories
Every military spouse has horror stories of things that go wrong during deployment. Whether it is car trouble, sick kids, or financial issues, these problems always seem to come out of nowhere, as soon as the spouse leaves. Sneed’s deployment was no exception. She shares the emergencies she faced in the first month her husband was gone. But she also shares some of the ways she coped with deployment hardships: seeing a counselor, having a military spouse mentor, praying, breathing techniques, exercise, getting out of the house, not crying, talking to others, and finding a hobby.
“Each day before my husband left, I heard in the back of my head, I can’t do this, I can’t do this. I am no different from anyone else. I didn’t think I could do it either, but I did one step at a time, and one day at a time, until it was finally over.”
Although the book was written after Sneed’s first deployment, she includes advice from more ‘seasoned spouses’ who have dealt with multiple deployments. These sections make the book a useful deployment resource. The author and most contributors are Christian, so the book makes frequent references to trust in God and pray through deployment challenges. If you are Christian, then this book will help strengthen your faith during deployment. But if you are not, then you might find the book’s religious messages repetitive.
“Journey Through Deployment” offers Practical Advice for every stage of Deployment
The choices you make before deployment can help smooth the way for success. Sneed discussed some practical things to take care of before deployment: conversations to have with your spouse, legal and financial choices to make together, maintenance issues, and emergency contact forms. She also discusses ways to prepare children for deployment.
During deployment, she describes useful coping resources, and helpful relaxation techniques. She also stresses the importance of asking for help:
“As military spouses, I think we equate asking for help with not being strong… There is nothing wrong with asking for help; it is only our pride that holds us back.” (p. 79)
To make things easier, Sneed provides a list of specific ways that civilians (or other military spouses) can help someone during deployment. Her ideas include doing yard work, bringing them dinner, babysitting, listening, and sitting with them at church.
Sneed’s book reminds readers that the end of deployment can be the hardest. The roller coaster of emotions continues, with a lot of uncertain questions. “I didn’t realize that all the feelings I had felt in the beginning of deployment would circle around to the end, but they did. Sometimes it felt like I had been punched in the stomach.” (p. 107)
Regarding Homecoming, Sneed shares her own emotional experience, but also gives some general advice, especially when discussing Homecoming with families. She reminds them that “no, I don’t know when he is coming home!” and asks that families please respect Homecoming wishes, since everyone has different ways of handling Homecoming.
Interview with the author, Kathryn Sneed
After reading the book “Journey Through Deployment,” I was able to interview the author to learn more. Sneed is a blogger who writes Singing Through the Rain, which focuses on military life and special needs families, from a Christian perspective. She was kind enough to answer my questions, which I will share with you!
This is a tough question! I think this answer may vary from spouse to spouse, but for me, I think it was the loneliness of it all and having to do it all alone. While I did have help along the way, at the end of the day the hardest part for me was being alone in a quiet house and having no one to talk to and going to bed alone.
2. Absolutely! I could write a whole other book on this, but the top thing I would say is: don’t do this alone! Special needs families are unique in that we have a bigger “village” of therapists, nurses, doctors, etc. who are there to help us and our kids through these types of things. Lean on them, use them. Use those respite hours, call that therapist if you need help, do what you can to make your life easy. The second thing I would say is: prepare as much as possible. This is key for many special needs families as kids do not always do well with big changes such as a deployment. Creating a visual calendar, talking about what will happen before, during, and after deployment, and reading books or social stories that help deal with this sort of thing, will make a huge difference!
3. Hmmm so hard! There were many things I think that were helpful for me, but if I had to pick just one I would say that having a time each week when I went to do yoga was the best thing I did for myself. It was relaxing and I needed that hour of “me” time to feel refreshed.
This book makes a great gift for someone preparing for deployment. It is encouraging and reassuring, with some helpful advice and perspective from several military spouses. You can get a paperback or eBook version on Amazon or Barnes and Nobles.