Living in a town like Columbus, Georgia, I know quite a few women (and men) that are, or have been, a spouse of a deployed soldier. While you never, ever want to neglect the family of a member of the military, there are certainly some considerations when giving gifts during a deployment.
Gift Card to a Favorite Restaurant
While it might seem that everyone would like some “free food”, especially at a favorite restaurant, there are a few factors to consider when the spouse of a deployed soldier is concerned. First, if the restaurant has special meaning to the couple, going alone or even with a friend could bring up memories that the gift recipient may not want to relive while their loved one is overseas, potentially in harms way. Second, it is possible that just the idea of dining alone could bring up the thought that if their loved one doesn’t return, the spouse could be dining alone indefinitely. Finally, the loved ones of a deployed soldier often don’t like to think of enjoying fine dining while the soldiers are often not enjoying the same quality in their meals.
Gift Card to the Movies
As with a gift card to a restaurant, the spouse of a deployed soldier may not want to go to the movies alone, especially if that was a typical way they spent time together as a couple when the soldier was at home. Unlike the gift card to the restaurant though, where the kids can easily come along no matter what their age(s), most people don’t take young children to the movie. So not only does a gift card to the movies create a potential “downer” in attitude because of the lack of the soldier’s presence, but then the spouse at home would also have to find someone to watch after the kids while they were out.
Many people love to read. It can be relaxing to get lost in someone else’s world for a while. However, consider this: reading takes time. It can take time away from other things, like taking care of children or housework or writing a letter to a loved one. If the spouse of a deployed soldier sits down with a good book, it could make them feel guilty about not doing other things. If she (or he) doesn’t have children, spending time reading a book could make her (or him) about how much time they aren’t getting to spend with their deployed spouse, or about how little time their deployed spouse has for such “luxuries”. If she does have children, getting a book for Christmas could just bring to light all of the time that she doesn’t have to spend to herself while she has to act as a single parent.
Expensive or “Accessory-Required” Gifts for Their Children
You might think that giving a little extra to the kids of deployed soldier would be a gracious gesture, but consider this: does your gift require extra money spent for it to work? For example, if you want to buy your grandchildren an X-Box, they would likely be thrilled. Who then, do you suppose, buys the power (batteries) for the X-Box, or the games required, after the children have mastered the one (or two) that came with the game system? Another consideration is that the spouse, and even the deployed soldier, may feel monetarily inadequate if someone else buys their child or children an expensive gift.
The last thing that the spouse or family of a deployed soldier wants to do is to travel while their loved one is away. You may be thinking of giving the gift of travel for when the soldier returns, but when will that be? No one ever knows for sure when a deployment will end, let alone if every soldier WILL actually return. Don’t forget about the time it takes to reacclimatize to home life again. It is easy to think that a trip as a family would help bring them closer together, but often too much “togetherness” can cause more strife in a family too soon after a deployment. It is best to save the trip to Disney World for when the soldier has safe and secure at home for a few months and has readjusted to family life again.