Building a foundation of support, even from planks of uncertainty

2 Jul

Jill Bozeman, Founder and Director of Operation Faithful Support, Inc.

I’m going to try to hit as hard as I can to get your attention, without over-dramatizing the home front battle.  Firstly, I’d like you to look over your life and think of all the unexpected hardships you’ve faced, as a child or as an adult.  Then I want you to ask yourself if there was a way you could have planned for any of those hardships in advance?  More than likely the answer is no, because for the most part, you couldn’t have seen them coming.

So now, I want you to imagine those same hardships coming unexpectedly during a deployment, when your main line of support, your partner, is in a combat zone.

If you had nothing to do but take care of your daily duties and responsibilities on the home front, the continued stress of concern for your Solider is enough to make you weak in the knees.  Add to that even one single additional hardship and you have a cocktail for emotional exhaustion.

What happens when Mama is exhausted?

What happens when Mama is depressed?

OFS (Operation Faithful Support) welcomed home an Infantry Brigade last January.   Some of those we sent did not return.  And of those that returned, some did not return the same.  At least one Soldier returned as a single parent due to a home front suicide.  Yes, this Brigade lost a spouse.

She had friends that loved her and supported her, but the truth is that she needed more than what one or two friends who were in the same boat could offer her.   She needed an entire framework of support, because we can’t foresee the struggles and joys the deployment year may hold.  We need a whole community.

I believe a spouse’s number one resource is her (or his) FRG (Family Readiness Group).  I’ve heard enough negative commentary about FRGs  to write a gossip column, but my first-hand experience literally changed my life.  It was so supportive and so empowering that I was inspired to do my part; I started OFS (Operation Faithful Support, Inc.) which as a program, has now supported three unit deployments since, earning lifelong friends and contacts all over the world.

All I had to do was reach back to the hands that were reaching out to me.  Even though the outcome was uncertain, and the rumors about FRGs were compelling, when the hand was extended, I took it!   And I thank God!

For the spouses and families serving on the home front, don’t throw those pamphlets and flyers away.   Don’t delete the emails without engaging the sender.  Answer the phone when you see it is your “Key Caller”, as she is a lifeline extended to you for contact and resources.  Behind the acronyms are real people who live to help, support, and love those belonging to our military communities.  Many times they are spouses, or former service members who are working for those programs, services, and non-profits.  If anyone knows the burden of deployment, it is them.

The only thing that is certain before, during or after deployment is that you are loved, and you will need that love to make it through.

Ask a friend to attend an FRG meeting with you.  And if you don’t have a friend, call your FRG leader and tell her the truth….that you are nervous about coming.  I believe, before you hang up you’ll have found a friend.

Jill Bozeman is a committed, 17 year Army Wife, and the founder and dirctor of Operation Faithful Support, Inc, a grassroots, pro-marriage educational support program for the spouses of deployed service members.  She and her husband, SFC Wade Bozeman, and their two children are stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky.  For more information about OFS, please visit  www.operationfaithfulsupport.com.

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One Response to “Building a foundation of support, even from planks of uncertainty”

  1. Dorothy Dee Squared July 3, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    I think building the foundation is REALLY important – especially so if your husband ends up deploying with a geographically separated unit. Our last deployment, we were a 10-hr drive away from his deploying unit because he was “loaned out” to them. Because of this, and because we lived off post at our then-duty station, I had minimal military support. Fortunately for me, we had been there for a few years before he deployed, and we had gotten plugged in with a wonderful local church that supported us through the deployment. There was also a MOPS group that I was a member of that helped me tremendously with dealing with with my children all on my own for a year. Sometimes, I just needed to know that I wasn’t alone. I’m so grateful for several ladies from church who would take turns coming to my house on a weekly basis so I could go grocery shopping WITHOUT children. Ah, the little luxuries of life! LOL! :)P

    I would encourage military spouses to start building your support network as soon as you get to a new duty station. Not only will this help you when you need it, but you will also be able to help others in the process. It’s a give-and-take kind of situation. When we are interconnected, we can be the strong one for our friends when they need us, and they can be the strong one for us in our time of need.

    The FRG leader for my husband’s deployed unit was wonderful as well – she sent out regular e-mails to the geographically separated family members to keep us informed of events that we could participate in from a distance. She also tried to include our participation in the things the FRG sent over there – like making sure she included a picture of our family onto a banner of families’ pictures for the unit. My husband was quite surprised and touched to see our faces on that banner in the midst of all the other soldiers’ families’ pictures. Then, when the unit returned, she personally met with me and my children so she could lead us to the location of the hangar, since she knew I was unfamiliar with the post. I couldn’t have asked for a better FRG leader, given how far away we were.

    Great post, Jill! 🙂

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