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The Truth About Rapid Deployment

Some people say, “live each day as if he deploys tomorrow.” In a way, it sounds great, but then life happens when deployment isn’t on the brain. Your kids need help when they get home from school. Your baby or toddler requires your attention more often than not. You might have a job that exhausts your brain and tires your body. You might have volunteer positions or children’s activities in the evenings. Before you know it, there’s no time left to live like he deploys tomorrow. There’s barely enough time to wash your hair or find a moment of peace.

Rapid deployment can make military families feel a lot of things, and here's what you should know.

Photo by Spc. Joshua Thorne, 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Typically, you’ll find out about a deployment with some time to spare, time where you can live like he deploys tomorrow. Time where you can make the memories and soak up the moments, squeeze in those things you’ve overlooked and do something special.

A rapid deployment leaves no time.

It’s getting a call that drops your stomach to your feet and through the floor.

It’s quickly running through the array of POAs to remember which ones you need immediately and which can wait.

It’s remembering what forms are completed and which ones you haven’t looked at in a while.

It’s helping pack duffles and assault packs, the ones that weren’t already stuffed for three weeks—just in case—constantly taunting you from the corner of the room.

It’s clothes and gear spread out all over your bedroom floor.

It’s buying snacks to supplement the MREs, hoping grocery delivery can prevent a run to the store at 6 p.m.

It’s corralling the kids with tears in your eyes so Daddy can pack.

It’s choosing cereal or sandwiches or delivery for dinner because there isn’t time to cook what you had planned.

It’s keeping it together as your mind whirls with all the things left to do, the passwords you need for the bills, the financial forms you haven’t reviewed.

It’s hoping it’s a fluke, 24 hours that will pass slowly, ending with his return home the next day and laughing about the urgency you just went through to pack all you had to.

It’s realizing that 24 hours have passed and he’s still gone, and you have no idea if it will be a week or 9 months.

It’s the clinch in your stomach as you calculate all the things he’ll miss: the birthdays, the holidays, the summer vacation you were planning.

It’s looking at your children with hope since they’re too young to understand what’s going on.

It’s looking at your children with worry because they’re old enough to know what’s going on but not understand it.

It’s looking at your teens with solidarity because they’re old enough to know what’s going on and understand it, every detail down to the location and the reason.

It’s worrying about how you’ll make it on your own for the unknown amount of time since it’s been a while since the last one, or the kids changed so much since the last one, or the location is different than the last one.

It’s trying to consolidate all the time you’ve overlooked for the last three years because of kids and jobs and activities and laziness, only to realize you have three hours and he’s gone.

It’s realizing there’s exactly enough time to do nothing.

You’ve run out.

It’s slapping yourself with regret for the Saturday you had to work instead of being home like usual, the night you watched a show instead of doing something together, the afternoon he took the kids to the park and you stayed home to do chores, the morning you slept in instead of sharing a cup of coffee and whispered conversation about nothing important but which would have filled your soul more than anything else right now.

Because he’s leaving.

What do you do?

The truth is, there’s nothing you can do because there isn’t even time to take a breath.

The truth is, you straighten that spine like you’ve practiced time and time again. You pack the bags, you get the snacks, you figure out the paperwork, you slap together a dinner from whatever is in your fridge, you vow to be there for your children in all the best ways, you put one foot in front of the other. You send him off, knowing he has all he needs, knowing your family is squared away, knowing you’ll all make it through.

Then once he’s gone, you lean on your people, you cry out what you held in, you scream and stomp and yell until you feel better. You soothe your kids and find your way. You dive back into routine, into a new normal, into what deployment usually feels like. You make the time for your self-care and the conversations that fill your soul and lighten your spirit.

The time will be long, the waiting even longer. There’s no changing that, my dear milspouse. But you’ve been here before. And if you haven’t been here before, you are surrounded by supportive people who have.

A rapid deployment is a lot of things. It’s an emotional whirlwind that barely leaves you time to process what’s happening. But in the end, it’s just another deployment. While you might not get an end date, the time will unfold much like other deployments. You’ll find what works, what doesn’t. You’ll discover the bright moments and the people who are the lights in our community.

And, in the end, it will be just another deployment.

Stay strong and lean on your people, my dear milspouse, especially as the news of deployment rocks our military communites around the globe.

And if it doesn’t affect you this time around, step in and step up for your friends and neighbors.

Together, we’ll make it through.

We’re always better together.


  • Sarah Peachey

    Sarah Peachey is a journalist from southern Pennsylvania currently living in the Southeast. Previous adventures sent her to Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Huachuca, Arizona; Fort Meade, Maryland; Hohenfels, Germany; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and Fort Stewart, Georgia. She lives with her husband of more than 10 years, three children, one very spoiled Dachshund, and a cat who leaves a dusting of white fur on just about everything. She began a career in journalism with The Fort Polk Guardian, an Army installation newspaper, winning three state awards for her work. Her work has appeared on MilSpouseFest, The Homefront United Network,, SpouseBUZZ, and Army News Service. She consulted for MilitaryOneClick (now known as MilSpouseFest), and helped launch the site #MilitaryVotesMatter, providing up-to-date information important to service members, veterans, and their families in the 2016 election. When not writing for military spouse support sites, she is currently working on her first novel while also volunteering as AWN's Blog Editor. When she can carve the time into her schedule, she writes about parenting, travel, books, and politics on her website, Keep It Peachey. You can find her on Instagram @keepitpeachey. She has a passion for reading, writing, politics, and political discussions. She considers herself a bookworm, pianist, wine enthusiast, and crossword addict.


  1. LaVaughn+Ricci

    Ugh…..such very, very hard stuff right there, Sarah. You’ve left me speechless and tearing up, as I can relate to some of your words. I’m so sorry for all who are going through this. Yes, we ARE better together.

  2. Sharita Knobloch

    All the feels on this one, Sarah. Goodness! Deployments are tough enough without the precursor of “rapid” before it. Thanks for the insight into the feelings and chaos.

    (And honestly, I have never really liked the saying “Live like he deploys tomorrow.” Because honestly, I’m usually not my best self– I’m stressed, cranky, anxious, and typically ready to rip off the band-aid… But I totally get the premise of being present and enjoying one another’s company!)


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Supporting Our Military Children

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One thing that has been most important to me, as a military spouse, is figuring out how to best do this life while supporting our children with the changes and difficulties. When my children were very small, there were many times that my husband was away, and I had to parent my children alone.

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