March 22, 2013 --
Any change in life requires adapting to the environment; deployments aren’t excluded. As Marines with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533 head out in support of the Unit Deployment Program, Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 just returned from completing their mission in the Western Pacific, March 22.
The deployments might be in the same region with the same mission but back home every family member of a deployed Marine goes through the deployment in a different way, in their own way.
“There is no wrong way or right way to do this,” said Sarah McArdle, a homemaker and the spouse of Lt. Col. Peter McArdle, the commanding officer of VMFA(AW)-224. “Whatever works is your way.”
There is an abundance of resources available aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to service members and dependents provided by Marine Corps Community Services to assist and help dependents network and cope while a spouse or parent is deployed.
Marine Corps Family Team Building provides knowledge and skills to military personnel and their families in an effort to enhance military life and prepare military families for the unique challenges of a deployment.
“The hardest part about deployments is that even if you’ve had one the next one is a totally different dynamic,” said McArdle, a native of Houston. “It’s important that no matter where people are, how many deployments they’ve had, they get the support and resources they need to get through that.”
Some of the programs offered through MCFTB include pre-deployment briefs, mid-deployment briefs for both spouses and children, return and reunions for spouses, parents and children, reintegration workshop, workshops aimed toward children and other unit sponsored events.
“The more you have planned ahead, the more helpful it is,” said Kim Byley, a homemaker and spouse of Sgt. Harold Byley, an imagery analysis specialist with VMFA(AW)-224. “It helped time go by faster.”
The military family is faced with more sacrifices than the average family. Not only does a service member sacrifice to serve their country but their families do as well. The sacrifice goes beyond spouses, even children of deployed service members have to adapt.
“We always made sure that the kids were welcomed to all of the different events, and had events with childcare available to allow the parents to take a break,” said McArdle, who has been through five deployments. “Not only do the spouses get to meet one another but the kids get involved and make friends as well.”
While enduring her third deployment, Byley utilized support groups available and involved her children in support groups and play groups to help them cope and pass the time.
“With this deployment, we had all the holidays and we just kept celebrating them,” said Byley. “I went to everything that was geared towards military families to stay busy.”
While attending different workshops, Byley networked with other spouses who had deployed spouses to give advice and take advice.
“If you ever feel you can’t do it, you can. You just need to find what’s right for you,” said Byley a native of Sheboygan, Wis. “Keep asking ‘what do you have available for me?’ There is something out there for everyone.”
For more information on support groups for dependents and service members contact the Marine Corps Family Team Building office at 228-6141 or contact your unit’s Family Readiness Officer.