A Deployment Overview

Hello all! 🙂

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Me and my airman!

First, a quick overview about me and then onto the first post for Becoming Deployment Champs!

My name is Kaitlin Haugen. I am 20 years old, a full-time student at the University of Nevada in Reno and am the game day producer for the Arizona Diamondbacks Triple-A affiliate, Reno Aces.

My fiancé’s name is Taylor Ritchie. He is a C-130 crew chief in the United States Air Force and is stationed in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Taylor and I started dating October 20, 2009. He was a senior in high school and I was a junior.

On November 21, 2010 he left for boot camp and from there our long distance relationship started and continues today. I remember thinking that if we were meant to be then the distance would only make the heart grow fonder and we would only become stronger and that we did!

When he graduated from boot camp January 20, 2011 I was more in love with him than I ever had been. I had spent two months missing my best friend and realizing that life without him was not only impossible, but unimaginable – as I’m sure many of you all understand!

We have been together for a little over 3 and a half years and in a long distance relationship for about 2 and a half years. It has not been easy, but all the coming and going to and from Arkansas is worth it because I know someday it will lead to staying. This past December he was able to come home for Christmas before his first deployment in January. We went out to dinner with both of our families and he asked me to be his wife.

I have been through high school, boot camp, distance, and now a deployment with my fiancé and hope I can be of help to other military couples.

Together we can all become champions!

deployment-overview I remember the day Taylor told me he was going to deploy. At first I thought, “This will be good…I am ready for this.”

Taylor and I had been through a lot together and I knew one of the last military related obstacles we had left to overcome was a deployment. Needless to say I was ready to get it going and get it over with. However, it was not as easy said as done. I remember being all right about it after I watched him get onto the bus, and still all right on my flight back to Nevada, but as soon as I laid in bed I really thought about where he was going and it hit me. Half of my heart was in Afghanistan…and it was tough.

Luckily, I had a few days at home with my parents and siblings before having to return back to school and that really helped. I also spent quite a bit of time over at his house and his mom and I put together his first care package. It is pretty tough especially at first, but with a good support system and enough to keep you busy the time will fly and you will get through it.

To start off the series I am going to give a brief overview to deployment and answer some pretty basic questions. These were the first things running through my mind when Taylor told me that he was deploying.

deployment_overview.2  In the Air Force, deployment time depends on your significant other’s job. However, most USAF deployments are between 4 and 6 months. Taylor is a C-130 crew chief and because they have to rotate out the planes that are overseas he was only over there for a little over 4 months.

deployment_overview.1 This was probably one of my biggest concerns. Because Taylor and I are in a long distance relationship we talk and text everyday and try to Skype as often as possible. Right before he left we would have movie date nights over the phone where we would choose a movie on Netflix and hit play at the same time. I got used to our routine and knew that with him being overseas it was going to change.

However, it really doesn’t change – it’s just different. Because they have Wi-Fi over there, they are able to get on social media sites and Skype, so we would Skype quite a bit and used Facebook messenger everyday.

There are also other apps that can be downloaded like Viber that allows you to call and receive calls from overseas free of charge. I have a few other friends who either have a spouse, or parent in the military who strongly suggest downloading this app. Make sure it is downloaded before your significant other leaves the United States or else they will not be able to download it overseas. Taylor and I made this mistake, but he was able to download an app called Magic Jack that gave him a new number while he was deployed, which allowed him to call me. I did not need the app for it to work. He would just call my regular phone number from a different number that the app gave him and we would be able to talk on the phone.

Communication is important in becoming a deployment champion. I will dive more into communication later on in the series!

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Remember - Silence means Security! Keep our loved ones safe by staying hush about deployment dates and arrivals.

Remember – Silence means Security! Keep our loved ones safe by staying hush about deployment dates and arrivals.

In today’s social media driven world, the Air Force has been very hushed about deployment departure and return dates.

For Taylor’s deployment they told us he could be leaving anywhere from January 3rd-10th. About 4 days before he left, he got a phone call to report to the squadron building on January 6th to leave for Afghanistan. So if you want to be there to see your airman off make sure you have an open schedule! It is frustrating, but with the rising popularity of social media sites it is just what they have to do for security purposes. Luckily for me it was my winter break from school when Taylor was scheduled to deploy.

After he was in Nevada for Christmas, he and I flew back to Arkansas together on December 30tth and I was with able to be with him until he deployed. I bought a one-way ticket because I was not sure when I would be flying back and how many days I was going to get with him before he left, so if you are in a long distance relationship like I am, make sure you have money saved just for plane tickets. Getting to deployment departures and arrivals is not cheap because you are given the dates in such short notice.

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Just like when they deploy, knowing when they are coming home is something you will not know until last minute. When Taylor left we thought he would be coming home May 15th, but once he got there they told him it would be anywhere from May 15th-25th. Once again this is frustrating, but just remember it is a safety precaution taken by the Air Force to ensure the safety of your airman.

It was not until May 3rd that I knew that the exact day he would be coming home would be May 20th. Normally I have a full Facebook countdown about going to see Taylor, but I knew how important it was to keep it off social media. It was not until his plane landed on the flight line and I was in his arms again that I put anything on Facebook.

deployment_overview.5 The answer to this question is different for everyone – My best advice is to keep busy and find some sort of a support group.

There are support groups for wives that your airman’s section will have that you can join. When I went to see Taylor off, the wives of his section were there and if you were a wife you could sign up and receive invitations to different events they hold during the deployment. It is a good support system and a good way to get to know the other spouses in your airman’s section.

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Right before he deployed… Hard day, but next Thursday I’ll give you more insight on What to Expect Before Deployments!

For me though this was different because I am not a wife and I live in Nevada. Luckily for me I have some great friends and I live a little less than an hour away from Taylor’s family and mine. They were all very supportive and always there for me when I needed them.

The other thing is to keep busy. Thankfully, this was not tough for me. I took 16 credits in the spring semester while Taylor was deployed and it definitely kept me busy. I also have a job, which I absolutely love. I was so focused on making my grades, performing well at work, and keeping in contact with Taylor that before I knew it I was done with my sophomore year of college and he was out processing from Bagram, Afghanistan and getting ready to begin his journey home.

Next week I will be posting about What to Expect Before Deployment, what that last day with your airman is like and what to expect when you show up with your significant other at their squadron building to see them off. This is a hard day, but I am hoping I can help make it a little easier 🙂

Until then,

Kaitlin

Becoming Deployment Champs! Posts:

Stay tuned for Kaitlin's Week 2 post next Thursday - and for Army Wife guest blogger Marjorie's first post soon! Exciting things happening here at The Real Sweetheart! -Lauren

Stay tuned for Kaitlin’s Week 2 post next Thursday – and for Army Wife guest blogger Marjorie and her first post coming soon! Exciting things happening here at The Real Sweetheart! -Lauren

Getting Ready to Make the Move – PCS Style!

Packing Up and Moving Out.

Try bulk packing hanging clothes by surrounding them with a clean trash bag! *Photo and Idea by

Try bulk packing hanging clothes by surrounding them with a clean trash bag! *Photo and Idea by The Wicker House blog.

This part of a PCS is probably the most calming for me, because I’m dealing with things I know. This is time to organize, throw away any junk and clean! So pop a DVD, or two, or three, into the player and get to packing!

Here are Some Packing Tips to Help You Out!

  1. Start packing the little stuff first. Knick-knacks, pictures, art on the wall – Dust it off and pack it up! *Head to U-Haul and pick up packing paper. Make sure to use it liberally!
  2. Pack well. *Remember you are not moving across town with a PCS. Boxes should be packed tightly, yet not overpacked. The right size box for the right stuff works wonders!
  3. Go to the Dollar Tree and get Color Coding Labels. *These colored dots make it easy to tell what boxes are for what room.
  4. Go tape happy when securing the boxes! *I promise you won’t be sorry! Even try using masking tape on mirrors or picture frame glass – this gives the fragile object a little more support during the move.
  5. If you have extra time, number the boxes and write the contents down on a Packing List. *This way you can make sure no boxes were lost during the move if the military is moving you. And if one was lost, what the contents inside them were.
  6. Leave the kitchen and bathroom for last. *Your family will be thankful they can still make something to eat!
  7. Plan ahead outfits to keep out and rotate washing. *This will keep you out of digging through your boxes a couple days later. Trust me – I was one of those box diggers and wished I had just planned out my outfits! Remember to wear moving clothes – not sundresses! *Guilty*
  8. Give yourself enough time to be able to clean your house/apartment before you leave. *Plan ahead!
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Number your boxes to insure none were lost during a move. Great for those who are having the military move them or doing a partial DITY move!

Important Paperwork & Things to Keep On Hand

  • Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificate
  • Social Security Cards, Passports
  • IDs for anyone over the age of 10
  • Car information (registration, insurance, car title)
  • School, Employment, Pet and Bank Records
  • Medicine that is currently being taken and extras like Benadryl, ibuprofen, etc.
  • Checkbooks *To avoid any identity theft!
  • A Packing List *This is just for you to stay organized!

And probably the #1 thing to keep on hand during a move…

  • The Official Orders

Most of these are common sense, but dealing with a PCS can be stressful, so keep a check list for yourself to stay on track!

Lauren

Top 5 Military Apps for Newbie Wives!

Phone Apps.

We live in a world of technology, so why not use it to our advantage? While I did see Blair at his Family Weekend Pass and graduation from OSUT, it wasn’t until we PCS-ed up to Fort Lewis that I actually interacted with other soldiers – including the higher ups. I’m not really one to get intimidated, but it’s super easy to get intimidated as a newbie military wife when you are first getting used to everything. It happens to the best of us…

So to make it a little easier on you, the 5 Phone Apps below were and still are my favorite for getting to know ins and outs of this crazy military world we live in!

1. Military Ranks – you can’t go wrong with this app. Whether your spouse is in the Army, Marines, Navy, etc., it has all the ranks broken down for you so you know who is who!

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2. USAA – this bank is meant for the military, and I LOVE it. They are so helpful and have an awesome mobile app for military families and veterans. Their app also has a Spending Plan and Track Money option to keep you on track with your income!

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3. Mil Traveler – you connect to your “home base” and it gives you everything you would need to know. For example, what building the MWR is in, their number and when they are open. Another thing I love about this app is that it gives you options for things nearby base as well. Ex. Looking for a golf course near Fort Lewis? It tells you there is one right off of Exit 116 on I-5!

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4. Military Money – another great option when creating a savings plan, debt reduction plan and more. Super great for our incomes! There is no reason we shouldn’t be saving money with great apps like these!

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5.  US Army – okay, okay. Now this app will only work for those in the Army, but it is awesome. One part I really love is the uniform section where they break down any uniform. It gives you everything your spouse will need to know to have his uniform in tip-top shape!

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Extra!

6. MilFit FREE – so this one isn’t necessarily for you, but I love understanding and seeing what is expected of our soldiers when it comes to fitness. There are several different fitness “books” you can download on this app that are definitely interesting!

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The best part about all of the apps above is that they are FREE. Plus, they are all things that you can explore and learn new information when you are out and about! They have all been super handy for me!

Lauren