Sunday, December 2, 2012

Military+Special Needs=Chaos...

Ok so here is the deal. Our Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, Airman and Coasties, are definitely not issued a family when they are in boot camp. We not like a uniform issue. We aren't in the orders. We are those people that just show up, fall in love with a service member, and blindly marry into Military. Let's face it, we have no idea what is in store for us when we marry our military spouses. Now Military life itself is nuts, crazy and chaotic to put it mildly. If we the spouses, don't pick on the Military lingo( Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta), not get used to the moving every 3 years,  not get used to the military medical and their love of prescribing Motrin for everything and your spouse's Command, we are Foxtrot.Unifrom.Charlie.Kilo.Echo.Delta. No one can prepare you for your first deployment, whether it be for 3 weeks, 6 months or a year. Its hard stuff to say goodbye to a loved one. Nor asking for help when your spouse is deployed.Nor your first PCS to a different place, new command and new people.

 Now lets throw Children into the mix. Because they do happen. After that very long deployment, you are happy to see your spouse, forget the world, have a good time and biology happens :)So we have our military children to add to equation. They see our chaos differently and they don't always understand it. They have questions about certain aspects of the world, because their parent is involved with what is happening. Now its great that we have things like Fleet Family Support and other services to help our children understand military life, but what happens when your children are special needs?

Special Needs and Military life equals a good amount of chaos. Why? Because on top of everything else you have to deal with on the normal day to day, you have to worry about the services your child needs. Is the next duty station going to have the educational support this child needs? Is it going to have the medical support my child needs. What happens when my spouse does deploy? How am I going to explain this to my children, who sees and understands the world differently? Those questions are all valid questions. Having had to experience two major deployments and several moves since my children were born, these have been my thoughts, all while trying to get a house ready to move. Let me tell you this.. the last move, I am surprised I keep a full head of hair. But back on track here.. What do we do? We pull up our socks and we do what we can with what we got, We educate ourselves, We seek out others that have done it all before. That is one thing I can say about Military Spouses, we are resourceful! We have a knack for finding people with a common denominator. For example, when we moved from Hawaii to our current duty station,I knew Little Miss would not understand the moving process, in fact she was downright horrified when the movers packed up her bed. And I didn't even want to imagine what living in a Hotel was going to be like for this child, who was soooooo out of her element. So it was suggested to me to make sure all of her favorite things where set aside in a suitcase. So all the Toy Story stuff, her special blanket, her pillow and the quilt my mom made her for her bed( so when we were in the hotels, she could sleep with something familiar). These suggestion came from another Military Parent who had just done the whole moving house thing, and this worked for them and their child with special needs.

 Now deployments are different. How do you explain a deployment? Even to an everyday child, it seems overwhelming. My husband's last deployment was the first time our daughter could remember it.My eldest knew what it was, as he remembered the deployment before that. But My daughter had no memories of that one as she was a baby at the time.My daughter handles things with questions. The every hour on the hour, 20 question period. She could not understand why and where Daddy had gone. I showed her maps, trying to explain to her that he was away helping others. It did not sink in. She wasn't upset about it, but she just didn't understand. But this girl's way of coping was interesting to watch. Every art project they did in class, Daddy would be in it. I have a picture from last Thanksgiving, with hand turkeys and in the background, she drew her father.. this little stick figure frolicking with Turkeys. I have Christmas Penguins with Daddy in the background and so on. That is how she dwelt with her Dad not being there. She added him into everything she was doing. :)

So to wrap up, Life itself is nuts, crazy, and unpredictable at times. It takes you on a ride. Military life is like that roller coaster you see at Six Flags, that you look at and second guess yourself with.. Do I have the stomach enough to do that ride? But eventually you find the courage to get on it, buckle yourself in, fight the nerves and in the end you find out that you have enjoyed the ride and want to do it again. :)