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The Submarine Wives Club: Deployment Information

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  Deployment Info : Your Ombudsman
Deployment Information
Your Ombudsman
By Barb Langworthy


Welcome to the wonderful world that your ombudsman lives in! I'm sure there are a few of you out there who don't know who or what the ombudsman is and does…

The Ombudsman is a wife of a crewmember who volunteers to act as liaison/troubleshooter/resource referral/sympathetic ear/roster coordinator/phone tree organizer/newsletter producer…the list is endless! It is a multifaceted job that should not be taken lightly. In other words:

We are an official representative of the Navy, appointed by the Commanding Officer to assist Navy Families and act as liaison between the command and it's families. (and vice-versa)

We have monthly meetings with the Ombudsman Council to keep us appraised of new or changing services offered by the Navy or the local community. We are kept aware of many topics which may be of interest or helpful to us.

A huge part of being an ombudsman is to disperse information, to keep lines of communication open, and to make ourselves both accessible and approachable by all. One method we use to accomplish this is by our newsletter. We recognize and value the importance of the Navy spouse and family, and want you to be as informed as possible.

If you have questions or comments regarding services available to you your ombudsman should be able to assist you. Depending on the circumstances, she will either explain how to solve the problem on your own, or tell you who to contact, or make the appropriate person aware of the situation.

Your ombudsman has training (lots of it!) to enable her to handle many different types of situations. If she does not have the answers you need, she has access to a seemingly endless resource supply.

The ombudsman works with Squadron and Group (along with the opposite crew, if you're on a Trident) in getting messages out to 'the guys" as far as birth announcements, death notifications (I hate having to send those!) and serious illness information.

If you have a situation come up during a patrol, contact your ombudsman and she, along with the appropriate personnel will determine if it's an "emergency" or not. In some cases, an "emergency" would mean a "humevac" (or getting the servicemember off of the boat) - (at the very least, a message will most likely be sent) Each case is treated individually.

If you have questions, contact your ombudsman and she can answer them for you.

A few typical questions that I get a lot:

What do I do if I lose my ID card while my husband is out to sea?
Go to pass and ID, all the information should be in the computer. They should be able to re-issue a card to you. If the information is not there, go through your support command's yeoman.

What is a POA? (Power Of Attorney)
A power of attorney is a legal document, allowing you to speak for you husband while he is out to sea (and therefor unable to speak for himself). Often these are used when selling things like houses and cars.

"I can't deal with him being gone…"
This is a very common problem among submarine wives. Usually, after talking to them, I will determine whether or not to alert the command - things I'll take into consideration:

Does she go through this every patrol and wind up ok? (usually listening to her does the trick…you'd be surprised at how far a sympathetic ear can go!)

Is she getting help from a counselor? (for how long? Is it helping?)

Would she benefit from a counselor? (recommend either the Family Service Center or the Chaplains at the base chapel)

Money Problems:
Depending on the situation, I will either recommend budgeting classes at the FSC or refer them to Navy Marine Corps Relief Society for assistance. In either case, this IS* reported to the command.

*Note: Not all commands require the Ombudsman to report financial problems. This is something that is up to the CO of the command. The Ombudsman is required to follow the CO's direction.

"I'm sick and I need help…"
This is usually handled by the Wives' Club Sunshine Committee. They have a list of other wives who volunteer to help out others in need. (some commands' even have a babysitting roster!)

There is so much more that the Ombudsman deals with on a day to day basis…it would take volumes to write. This is just an overview for you to see that she is a caring and helpful person who has volunteered to assist other wives (and in some commands, girlfriends) with life during deployments.

Posted by submarin on Sunday, September 04, 2005 (06:17:05) (10741 reads)
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  Deployment Info : How To Include The Deployed Parent
Deployment InformationWhile the hardships of family separation impact both husbands and wives, they are often especially difficult for the children. Six months or more can be a tremendous amount of time to a young child. Below are some ways to keep the deployed parent a part of the family circle.

For Couples With Young Children

Pre-record bedtime stories read by dad. Use all their favorite books.

Make a snapshot picture book of dad doing everyday things with each child (one book per child) such as giving a bath, reading, taking a walk, etc.

Have dad send postcards to the child with brief easy sentences about the child's daily events. Children treasure receiving their own mail, especially when it has pictures, even two-year-olds.

For Couples With Older Children

Have a large family picture of everybody together and a large photograph of dad.

Have a map so the family can trace the deployment. Have children study or read about the countries visited, and have dad send postcards and other information about each country.

Let the children talk on cassette on their own or send one from the whole family.

Send dad schedules of ball games or special events so he can ask how the ball game went, ask about the class play. etc.

Write separately to each child. Postcards can be sent in both directions.

** Information obtained from Pre-Deployment/Deployment Information For Parents from the FSC Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Posted by submarin on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 (13:11:24) (944 reads)
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  Deployment Info : How To Survive Seperation
Deployment InformationSet some goals for yourself as a whole person then peruse your self-development program whether or now your husband is home.

Get involved in some ongoing activity. It might be a full or part time job. It might be volunteer work. Don't make excuses by saying that you will have to give it up when your husband comes home. Dare to stretch yourself.

Take up a new hobby or return to one you gave up for lack of time.

Know at least three of your neighbors. You may need their help on an emergency basis and they can offer day to day support.

Make sure you are financially secure before your partner leaves. Do you have enough money to cover an unexpected bill?

Don't feel guilty about going out with friends and leaving your children with a babysitter. That's the cheapest form of sanity.

Don't run home to "mother" if the going gets rough. That, at best, is a temporary solution.

Keep a journal of your thoughts and activities while your partner is away to help you "catch up" when they return on what you have been doing and thinking. Include in this journal snapshots of you and your children.

If you and your husband have some difficulties, try to work them out before deployment. They will get bigger and bigger if you don't.

Find a "buddy" -- another military spouse whose husband is away, if possible -- whom you can call when you feel "blue". Even if it's someone you just met, chances are they will understand your problems.

Little things can help a lot: cook a special dinner that your enjoy but your husband hates; start a small sewing project; play the piano; do some physical labor -- it will help relieve emotional "tiredness."

Take the kids on an outing. Go to the museum, to the library, to the woods for a hike.

Break up the week with special activities -- a Friday night movie, a Tuesday morning shopping trip.

Don't sit home on weekends thinking, "Oh, if only he was here." Get a group of spouses and kids together and to to the beach, go ice skating, have a picnic, etc.

Don't be afraid to invite people to your home for dinner.

Don't hesitate to attend a party where singles will be present. Wear your wedding ring to prevent confusion and criticism, and recognize that as a mature adult you are capable of conversations and relationships with both men and women. But don't go to singles bars. If you do, you are asking for trouble.

When your partner comes home, allow time to adjust. Don't hand over a list of repairs and problems as soon as he walks in the door. And don't smother him with attention. Allow the luxury of private time, which is rarely available when at sea.

**Information obtained from the Pre-Deployment Information For Couples guide from FSC, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Posted by submarin on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 (13:09:03) (4598 reads)
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  Deployment Info : Stages of Deployment
Deployment InformationFor those wives who will be left behind when the boat leaves, each stage of a deployment may be characterized by some fairly usual expectations, feelings and reactions.

There are some activities that one needs to undertake either because they are necessary or because they help to alleviate or prepare for the separation.

Emotions ranging from fear, anger and abandonment, through to excitement, hope, satisfaction and relief, may arise during the separation period. Individuals will vary in the kind and strength of their feelings. However, it is important to accept that separation is an emotive issue, and experiencing a variety of emotions during this time is completely normal. Talk about them. Other personnel who are deploying, may experience similar feelings.



- Expectation of separation (6-8 weeks prior to deployment).

___Some feelings: excitement, denial, fear, anger, resentment, hurt

___Activities: financial planning, car repairs, home repairs

- Emotional Withdrawal (1 week prior to deployment).

___Some feelings: confusion, ambivalence, anger, pulling away

___Activities: talking, sharing, planning reunion

___Reactions: coolness, arguments and disagreements


- Emotional Confusion (1-6 weeks after departure).

___Some feelings: sense of abandonment, loss, emptiness, pain, disorganization, intense business

___Activities: being more busy than usual

___Reactions: crying, loss of sleep, loss of appetite

- Adjustment (most of deployment)

___Some Feelings: hope, confidence, calm, less anger, loneliness

___Activities: establishing routine, establishing communications, self growth, independence

- Expectation of Reunion (6-8 weeks prior to homecoming).

___Some feelings: apprehension, excitement, high expectations, worry

___Activities: planning homecoming, cleaning, dieting


- Honeymoon (1 day-or until first argument!).

___Some feelings: euphoria, excitement, confusion

___Activities: talking, re-establishing intimacy, readjusting

- Readjustment (1-6 weeks following return).

___Some feelings: discomfort, role confusion, satisfaction, happiness

___Activities: renegotiating relationships, redefining roles, settling in

**Feelings and activities at each of these stages will be different for each of us and that is OK**

Posted by submarin on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 (13:03:47) (1022 reads)
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  Deployment Info : Communication During Deployment
Deployment InformationDeployment involves a separation period between the service member and his/her partner, friends and family-their significant other (SO's). It is vital that plans to keep in touch are made prior to deployment and that you stick to these plans.

___Communication during a separation period is essential as it boosts morale for both the service member and those left at home. Also, by keeping each other up to date on changes regarding finances, personal experiences, achievements, friendships, goals, etc the reunion process can become less awkward.

General Information

Prior to deployment, get together with those you intend to keep in touch with and make some decisions about communication.

___How often you will write? How often do you expect to be written to?

___How many phone calls will you make and when? How long you can afford to talk?

___Decide in advance if there's bad news or problems, how much you want to share? Evaluate the impact of such news and the frustration of being so far away and unable to help. But don't try to keep all your problems from your husband. This may make them feel you aren’t sharing, or that they aren’t important.

___If possible, try not to write about a problem until you can write about the solution as well. In this way, neither party needs to feel left out, and those at sea don't have to wait and worry until a subsequent letter comes saying everything is okay.

Methods of Communication


Letters are your "lifeline to sanity"; wait until you have not received one in a while and see if you don't think so. But it takes a special skill to write a letter during deployment. You should avoid writing phrases such as "Everything is falling about and I can't handle it without you" or "Everything is falling apart but I don't need you any more to fix it".

E-mail to boats will depend on your command and whether or not there is e-mail available on the boat. Please remember that the boats have constant problems with their e-mail systems and it is possible that your husband is not getting their mail, and vice versa.

Letter Writer's Guide

Here are a few tips to enhance talking back and forth to each other by letter.

___Answer all questions. (try writing with your husband's letter and picture in front of you as though talking directly to them).

___Ask advice when needed.

___Explain problems clearly. If you are vague your husband may worry.

___Express your appreciation for letters or tapes already sent, mentioning one or two points of special interest.

___Remember the importance of the amount and frequency of expressions of affection.

___Share your feelings as openly and freely as you can without indulging in self-pity or being self-centered. Think of others. Let your husband know you'd like to share his feelings.

___Express yourself clearly and unequivocally so that he won't have to say: "I wonder what was meant by that!" Neither party should try to interpret what the other says, read between the lines, or distort meanings. If you don't understand, ask questions-otherwise take things at face value.

___Give news of neighbors, friends and relatives.

___Write often. If that's hard, supplement with cards (funny-romantic) postcards or even surprise flowers, presents and E-mail.

___Rumors should be avoided.

___Date or number each letter so that if more than one letter is received at once, your partner will know which one was written first. (Also, it helps to know if all of your mail is arriving)

If you must communicate bad news in a letter, be clear and to the point and explain all the details fully.

___Overseas mail is prone to delays-expect this.

Before You Mail that Letter
There are times in every deployment when the pressures and disappointments build to a point that the wife may she must verbalize their feelings or explode. This is normal and can be managed if channeled properly.

___When you haven't heard from your husband at sea, it is easy to become hurt, angry, frustrated or disappointed. It's natural to want to vent those feelings. An excellent way is to go ahead and write that letter, the one that will have your partners ears burning for a week. But don't, I REPEAT, don't mail it for at least 3 days. Keep the letter in a prominent place where you will see it daily. Think about what you have written. Don't brood about why you wrote it, but consider the actual contents. How would you like to receive that letter?

___After three days re-read what you have written. Do you still feel the same way? Keep in mind the kind of situation or responsibility your husband is handling right now. Is there a big inspection coming down? Do they have a critical job that leaves little or no extra time for more than a meal on the run and a quick nap? A standard work week at sea usually leaves very little spare time, plus most personnel have watches to stand and extra duties to perform. Most of all, remember that mail might not have left the boat and there might be letters written and waiting to go out but have not been taken off the boat to be delivered.

___Now sit down with your letter and start over. Tell your husband, quietly, calmly, how you feel and why. Perhaps your partner doesn't understand the pressures you feel any more than you may understand theirs.

___Put the original letter in a "shoe box" and save it for your husband to read when you get together again. After a few days together, give them the letter (or box of letters) and explain that these letters are a record of your very worst days of the deployment. Perhaps the next cruise will show how you understand each other's struggle a little better.

___Handle your letter writing with the same tact and understanding you want your partner to have for you.

___Patience is the most important keyword in deployment communications.

A care packages is exactly what it sounds like-a little bit of home that says "I care for you", "I love you", or "I am thinking of you". Care packages are also morale builders during a deployment. With a little planning they can be a great link over the distances. When you get your first "Thank You" letter, you'll be eager to start your next package.

___While boat life today is relatively comfortable compared to the old days, the rare commodity is privacy. Be careful of what you send. It will undoubtedly be seen by a number of people.

E-mail, Family grams, Telephoning a boat while in port overseas will vary by boat.

Posted by submarin on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 (13:02:25) (1281 reads)
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  Deployment Info : Family Checklist
Deployment InformationDo you know your ombudsman's name and phone number?

Do you know your spouse's social security number?

Is the emergency data page in his service record current and correct?

Is your ID card about to expire? Have you arranged for the paperwork for an ID card for any child who will turn 10 before the service member's return?

Has the car's maintenance been discussed? Who will you take it to for repairs?

Do you know what to do or who to call if something in your home breaks?

Do you understand what the ombudsman, Navy Family Service Center, Red Cross, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the Chaplain, etc. can do for you and how and when to contact them?

Do you understand the use of medical facilities and Tricare? Is everyone in your family enrolled in DEERS?

Do you have emergency numbers posted for quick reference?

Have you reached an agreement on frequency of letter writing? Do you know your husband's complete deployed address?

Have children been included in discussions on where dad is going, when he will be coming home and why he is leaving?

Have you and your spouse made your wills? Are they current and kept in a confidential place?

Have you discussed a power of attorney (POA)? Do you need a special POA to sign his name on income tax forms or to cash a tax return check? (Some banks won't cash a government check without a special POA -- a general POA won't always do.)

Do you have an adequate allotment/DDS? Will it cover your rent, utilities, grocery needs, bills and other expenditures?

Do you know the process for moving your household goods?

Have you discussed your feelings on the deployment and your spouse's return?

Do you know where important family documents are?

Have you given your home a security checkup? Do all the windows have locks? Do the windows open or are they painted shut? What about door locks? Have you secured the outside buildings? Do you know the combinations or have the keys for those padlocks? Do you know how to test smoke alarms?

Do you, your parents and your in-laws know how to reach your husband in an emergency?

Do you know about your command's spouse group?

** Information obtained from the Pre-Deployment For Couples guide from FSC, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Posted by submarin on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 (12:58:44) (435 reads)
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  Deployment Info : Deployment Information
Deployment InformationMake sure you have the "military address" for your spouse. Should the need arise you will need it if you use the Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society, Red Cross, etc.

If you are going out of town, for say a couple days or more, you should call your ombudsman and leave contact information with the her. That way you can be contacted if there is a change in the schedule or something pertinent that can't wait until you come home.

Let the ombudsman know if you want to be included in the phone tree if the command has one.

If you are away from home and are unable to contact your ombudsman for an emergency call the local Red Cross Office. Ask to speak with their military liaison. You will be able to get the information needed to send any emergency correspondence to the spouse.

As far as POA's (Powers of Attorney) go: your husband should be given an afternoon to go over to Navy Legal and have a "General Power of Attorney" drawn up. It doesn't take that long. However, if there will be a transaction, regarding real estate, taking place while the husband is out to sea, then he will need to give you a "Specific Power of Attorney" which will be used only for said transaction. That may take a little more time because there is more detail involved. Most wives should be given a "General Power of Attorney" before deployment because unforeseen circumstances may cause her a great deal of trouble if she doesn't have one; this is particularly true around income tax time. All POA's have a time limit and will have to be renewed probably before each deployment. As always, if they are done through Navy Legal Services, they are free.

Now, if a wife, or child above age 10, loses their ID card while the husband/daddy is deployed the wife or legal guardian of a child can simply go to the Pass & ID Office, explain the circumstances, and be given paperwork to fill out and turn back in. Often the Pass & ID Office will require the person to take that paperwork to be filled out at the Off-Crew Office of their Command so that a Yeoman can fill out information regarding the status of the military member and a COB can sign it. This is true for 2 crew for subs with only one crew I am assuming their is a shore command for each boat that handles such stuff. It's imperative that lost ID cards be reported immediately because of the security risks involved!!!!! Also, a person without proper ID cannot use most of the services on board a base I.e. commissary, exchange, medical/dental, and pick up Rx's.

As for new Navy wives, *THE* single-most important information she could be given is the phone number of her Command Ombudsman!!!!

Posted by submarin on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 (12:56:53) (857 reads)
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