JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
At any moment there are thousands of Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers working in deployed areas, responding to situations affecting the nation.
Deployments bring challenges to service members and the ones they are leaving behind, their families.
Valerie Dye and Dayra Lopez, both JBA military spouses, were in different parts of the country when they received the sudden news from their loved ones that a deployment was just around the corner.
Dye remembers the orders for her husband, Tech. Sgt. Andrew Dye, 11th Civil Engineer Squadron electrician, in 2012 coming as a shock at first. They were stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, and they had only been on base together for about six months before the order came down.
“It was pretty short notice,” Dye said. “You kind of know when your husband calls you and is like ‘I have bad news.’ I think my initial reaction was my stomach dropped, but it was an immediate kick into gear [after that].”
The deployment came with real sacrifices. Dye’s husband missed their son’s first birthday, their anniversary, her birthday and their first Christmas together.
Valerie said she remembers knowing Andrew would leave soon and wanting to make every moment count. Since she was stressed and her husband was stressed -- It was hard for the two of them not to argue.
“Anytime that you argue, you go to bed feeling super guilty about it,” she said.
Dye recalls taking advantage of a free child care program at Malmstrom , so she could go grocery shopping and run errands, while Lopez remembers visiting family to help deal with her husband being gone.
Both Dye and Lopez said that during deployments, handling things on their own at home was difficult. Friends, family and their faith helped them work through that time of separation from their significant other.
Even after experiencing their most recent deployment as a family, their third, Lopez described how unique challenges emerge each time.
“We are still dealing with it,” she said. “We have learned that change is not easy for [our oldest child]. We have accessed the counseling services that the Air Force offers for him.”
Lopez says that these meetings teach her son resiliency, and what it means to be in the military.
“I think once you find a comfort in the military life, you want to hold onto that very tightly and you want to replicate that wherever you go,” she added. “You have to find the good in the bad, the comfortable or find the good in something you don’t necessarily want to look through. That’s our lesson for our family, post deployment.”
The Military Family Readiness Center on JBA provides service members and their families support before, during and after a deployment.
Master Sgt. Jennifer Bricker, 11th Force Support Squadron readiness NCO, and the MFRC are ready to assist.
“My primary goal is making sure that [deploying members families], specifically their spouses, are aware of what resources and services are available to them,” Bricker said.
The readiness center speaks with spouses and service members twice a month about important information regarding deployment. Bricker said families should know who their key spouse is and who the military member’s first sergeant and commander are.
Spouses and service members can arrange one-on-one meetings to address any concerns. Bricker and her team are able to help coordinate meetings for families. Families can meet with the military and family life counselor, chaplains, who provide 100 percent confidentiality in meetings, and financial counselors and case workers for Air Force aid. The readiness center also provides help with children.
“Sometimes kids tend to lash out or act out when any big change happens,” Bricker said. “Spouses can just come in and talk and work through whatever the issues are.”
The Military Family Readiness Center is open Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information call 301-981-7087.
Any concerns can also be addressed to the service member’s chain of command, or first sergeant.
Chaplains are available for support and 100 percent confidential counseling. Meetings with a chaplain can be coordinated through the service member’s chain of command, first sergeant, MFLAC counselor or readiness director.