Where are You Deployed?

 Photo by Cadet Jeremiah Zingapan, Class of 2011

Photo by Cadet Jeremiah Zingapan, Class of 2011


Recently, a friend of mine who is a veteran posted on Facebook that she'd casually used the word 'deployment' in conversation. Surprisingly, the person she was speaking to stared back blankly and asked: 'wait — what's a deployment?' 

So many of the comments on her post were incredulous. How could someone not know what a deployment is? Our country has been at war for nearly fifteen years straight! But I think it's a fair question. If you're not in the military — if you don't know anyone that is — it's very easy to be shielded from the efforts of our armed forces, and from the lingo too. In a nation protected by an all-volunteer military force, it's easy for the rest of the citizens to be lulled into assuming we're in a time of peace.

I've never been to war. 

Shocker, I know. But, I don't think you have to be in the military to understand what it feels like to be deployed. You don't have to wear a uniform to be in the fight of your life. 

So, first, let's answer the question. What's a deployment? Deployment is the movement of troops or equipment to a place or position for military or humanitarian action. Every moment of every day, U.S. forces in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are being deployed all over the globe to keep peace, engage enemies, and deliver relief. For men and women in uniform, deployments can last three weeks, three months, or even as long as a year and a half, depending on the mission. Most people have several deployments over the course of their military career. In the height of the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq, it was common to go back and forth to war every-other-year. 12 months at home, 12 months in combat. And so on. 

Over the course of interviewing dozens of men and women for Beyond the Point, a common theme kept surfacing about time overseas — the idea that when you're in the midst of a great conflict, it can feel like everything else in your life has to be put on hold. 

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever gotten a phone call that forced you to drop everything, pack a bag, and move toward pain? To engage in a battle and hopefully, someday, find peace? It's happened to me more than once. 

I've been very open about the fact that right now, I'm very much deployed in the battlefield of infertility. (It's a realm where the enemy is elusive, and sometimes looks like yourself.) I have friends that are fighting the war of grief, after experiencing the heartache of death and loss. Still others are facing the war of parenthood, where everything else seems to go on hold while you figure out how to rear a toddler.

Like it or not, in almost every season of life, we're either in the midst of, or moments away from a deployment. These extended battles require us to put everything down, pick up whatever weapons we've got, and pray for battle buddies to help in the fight.

So where are you deployed? Maybe you're fighting to save your marriage. Maybe you're fighting the lies in your head that say you are unloveable and alone. Maybe it means literally fighting the Taliban. But remember this. Deployments aren't permanent.