Pre-Deployment Tips for Spouses
My husband was recently tasked for a deployment that was much more sudden/unexpected then deployments in the past. Typically, we'll have a good 3-6 months heads up about a deployment and be able to not only get emotionally/mentally prepared, but to also get things in order and ensure certain tasks are done before he leaves. This deployment was a little overwhelming because we didn't have that time frame, however, after going through a few deployments I felt fairly confident that we had completed and knew most of the things to get done/be aware of.
But I know it can be extremely hard for new spouses or spouses going through their first deployment to know what things are important to have completed prior to a deployment. The military does a great job of giving the active duty spouse a checklist of all the tasks they need done leading up to deployment, but I've found there's not always the same consideration for the spouse who is left to keep things together at home. I thought it may be helpful to put together a generic list of helpful tips and things to get done before your spouse is shipped off. This isn't an official list, and there definitely may be branch specific/deployment specific things to be aware of so it's always important to ask your spouse or people at your base if you have specific questions. But I hope this helps and gives a little relief to any spouse feeling overwhelmed about an upcoming deployment.
Power of Attorney & Will. This honestly is great to just go ahead & get done when your spouse first enters the military, we did both when we got to our first duty station/base. The power of attorney is definitely a high priority prior to your spouse leaving as it will allow you to be able to handle finances, bills, paperwork, etc. while they're away, even if certain things are in their name. I know getting a Will done can feel a bit morbid, I felt this way especially being so young, but we felt it was important for us both to make decisions regarding our children and have a set plan if something happened to either of us. Most, if not all, bases should offer doing a POA & Will as a free service at base legal.
Gather alllll the info! (I.E. security #, deployment address, squadron info). Make sure before your spouse leaves you either have them write down their social security number in a safe place for you OR memorize it (I'd recommend the latter as I promise you'll need it a billion more times during their military career). It's also helpful if they already have it, to have them leave the address of their deployed location (so you can start sending letters/care packages or if Red Cross needs to get ahold of them). Also having their current squadron info and a contact number for their supervisor/first shirt or just someone that you could obtain information from regarding your spouse/military support if needed.
Contact info, support, key spouse! As the spouses being left at home it can be nerve wracking to feel alone ESPECIALLY if you are newer to a base and haven't met many people. In the Air Force we have something called a "key spouse". This is a spouse who volunteers from each unit to provide resources & support to other spouses and are a great resource especially during deployments. I am not positive if other branches have this program but I believe most have some kind of support contact or program for deployed spouses. Ideally the key spouse will reach out to you either before or right after your spouse deploys to check in and provide their contact info. I'd recommend though to ask your spouse if they know who the key spouse is for their unit or if there's any contacts/deployment resources you should be aware of. You can also try asking on the bases/duty stations spouse Facebook page or other spouses from the unit/shop. I'd also recommend if your spouse is deploying with other people in their unit to reach out to the other spouses and see if you can have each others contact info for meet ups, support, or just someone extra to have on your kids schools emergency contact list (lol).
Car/house maintenance. This one may be a little personal.. (haha) because I swear it's a curse that once my husband deploys something happens to our car or house. If you have a solid heads up about your spouse deploying I'd ask them to help you make sure that the car/tires/engine and any house appliances/filters/issues are completed before they take off. This can give you a little piece of mind and hopefully make things slightly smoother while they're away.