Have One Last Date Night
You guys won’t see each other for a while, so make the most of the last of your face-to-face time. Even if you have kids, go out without them. Remember, you have 30 days of free childcare and probably a whole lot of friends who will watch them for you guys to get ready. Also, consider a daytime date if your kids are in school. Make it fun and something that will end the date on a positive note.
Have Your Spouse Spend Time with the Kids
Just like you two need to connect before your spouse leaves, this is important for the child as well. Make it fun for the child and end the time with a positive note. One point I want to make is many times we tell our kids that they are “the man of the house” or “they need to be strong”. I suggest not doing this because this is a time your child will need the most support. This is a very big feeling for children that don’t have the coping mechanisms in place to fully deal with these emotions. They need to know, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be mad, it’s okay to talk to people about your feelings. We need to normalize counseling because it can help our kids develop those healthy coping mechanisms. I still believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger but in that struggle, you learn ways to handle the hard times. This is what makes the military child so strong and versatile as opposed to the civilian population that doesn’t usually face these challenges and may not have as many resources.
Take a Picture of Your Spouse
Try to take this picture before your spouse leaves so they doesn’t have to mail it to you or wait until they can get a phone/use the computer to send it. You can have the picture sitting somewhere in your house, make a pillow or doll out of it, etc. Check your service center who might do these for free.
Record Them Reading a Bedtime Story
Yeah not much to that. Just record them reading your child’s favorite story preferably before he/she leaves. It allows your child to feel your spouse’s presence.
Know How All the Accounts/Bills/Money Stuff Work
Do you have the password to get into the bank account? Do you know what the bills are and how they come out? Do you have all the access you need to fix billing issues while he/she is away? Please have these important discussions with your spouse so you guys have a plan for everything getting paid. Consider putting the bills in your name if you can and are ok with having that responsibility. This is especially true if you live in the UK because you can’t do anything without the account holder. If there is an issue where you know you will spend all the money be upfront about it because there can be other ways to take care of bills with all of the technology nowadays.
Know Where The Important Documents Are
One of the important documents you will want to have is a copy of your spouse’s deployment orders. This allows you to get a free oil change during that time and free child care once a month. You can also fly Space A as a Category 3 rather than 4. This basically means you can fly military travel for free or very low cost. The benefits change like the weather so check the readiness center on your installation to get the most current information. Other important documents include:
- PCS orders
- Social Security Cards
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificate
- Divorce Decree
- Taxes(if it’s that time of the year)
- Banking and investment information
- Insurances (car, life, rental, home, etc.)
Power of Attorneys (POA)
If want to get anything done, you will need a special Power of Attorney. If you need to sell a car, file your taxes, or change your cell phone plan in the UK you will need a piece of paper, for EVERY SINGLE ITEM. We always get a general POA as well but if there are specific things we know are coming up, we get a special POA for that. They are fairly quick and easy to get from your legal office. Note it is easier to get one before they leave but it is possible for you to coordinate the effort if they are down range because sometimes, you just get a 5 minute notice.
Update Your Wills
I know we don’t like thinking about it but your or your spouse could die. Everyday God gives us is a gift, that’s why is called the present. Sure, your spouse is probably in a dangerous job if they are in the military but I believe; if it’s your time, it’s your time whether you are a thousand miles away or two miles away. Either way, anything could happen so do you have the important bases covered? If you have kids, who will take care of them? How do you and your spouse want to be buried? (I personally want my family to make money so they can sell my organs to medical science if that’s a thing). It sucks to think about but it’s important so there is an action plan if the unthinkable happens and you are to emotional too think about the next logical step.
Make Sure DEERS and Tricare Are Up to Date
This is usually good to go but if you just got married or just joined your spouse on their assignment you make want to double check. You are not automatically enrolled but once you are in you shouldn’t have to worry about it again while your spouse is still in the military. If you’re not in DEERs this may affect your access to the Exchange, Commissary or other benefits. You want to make sure you have access to Tricare because you’ll have to pay for your medical treatment otherwise. If you are stationed at an overseas location, let the Tricare know if you go back stateside so you will still be covered.
Set Goals for the End of the Deployment
Do you want to pay off your debt, save to buy a house or get in better shape? Whatever that goal is, if you two sit down before they go you can hash out some of the details without getting disconnected from the call. It gives you guys something to look forward to instead of focusing on the suck of the deployment. Your shared goal allows you to have a common topic to discuss when everything else is different.