Military spouses cope with deployment during the holidays

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Bree Carroll, right, is one of the many military spouses who has to find ways to deal with deployment during the holidays. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

Christmas is a time for family and friends. And, unfortunately, many of Bossier’s residents have to lean on friends because part of their family is missing.

Many military spouses are deployed, defending the country, instead of having pie and eggnog with their family back in Bossier.

Like most military spouses, Bree Carroll has had to experience holidays and special occasions without her spouse due to deployment. She says any deployment, especially during the holidays, is a tough time for her, causing her to rely on on-base programs, friends, and extended family.

“Holiday deployments are rough, but we get creative. My favorite way of coping was when friends of ours celebrated all the holidays, birthdays, etc. before he left for deployment,” said Carroll.

Carroll is the spouse of a Barksdale airman, Capt. Donovan Carroll. The couple of five years met at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, while he was in pilot training and she worked as a civil engineer. They have three children together.

Although the family has been lucky to be together during the Christmas season, she expects that to change in the near future.

“All of his deployments fall between January to June so he’s missed our youngest child’s birth, my birthday, Valentines Day, and our anniversary,” said Carroll.

She copes by managing expectations and redefining “normal.”

“It’s tough and I rely on programs, friends and family to give me support, but there is no feeling like having your family be apart and wondering if it will ever be back together again,” she added.  

Carroll says while her husband is deployed, they stay in communication. While it is not the same as being in-person, those few minutes are crucial.

“A call or FaceTime that lets us know he is alright makes all the difference. It’s not the same as him being there, but for those few minutes everything is okay and we try to focus on the things that matter most,” said Carroll.

The New Jersey native is also a mentor and a small business owner of two companies focused on serving military couples and empowering other spouses to become successful mobile business owners. Her profession and experience proves there are many resources available for deployed families.

“Airman & Family Readiness Center offers parents a break with 16 complementary childcare hours, free oil changes, a pillowcase with a picture of the family to send as a gift, counseling services, family events, and so much more,” Carroll said. “Other organizations have reading programs where the service member can record themselves reading a book to help keep them a part of the family’s routine. We definitely try to take care of each other during that time,” said Carroll.

Carroll’s advice to other military spouses is to know that your feelings are valid and you do not have to be Superman or Superwoman.

“Deployments are not easy, so try to have healthy conversations to prepare on the front end. Most of all, reintegration can be the hardest part. When your partner comes home, give each other some time to get back in sync with each other and your daily routines,” said Carroll.