I have deployed quite a few times in my military career which is normal or less than normal to sum. I deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Kosovo for two years, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Guantanamo Bay deployment was back in 1995 and was the most difficult if not the hardest due to a lack of real time information and communication to my family back home. Internet was at it’s infancy still, pagers were very common still and cell phones were more luxury than what we have now. Afghanistan was the easiest because we were issued a satellite cell phone and I can call mostly anyone who had a cell phone.
But in all my deployments, there was a trend for anyone who was deployed to experience the following three phases: workaholic, physical fitness, and religious phases.
The workaholic phase is self explanatory. You work from the time you wake up until it is time to sleep. Yes, you make time for personal hygiene and you ensure you get your meals in for the day, but for the most part, you just focus on your work and don’t care about anything else happening in the world. Your are focusing all your efforts on the tasks that are on hand. And if you do end up with a day off or a half day, you spend it asleep trying to get some rest or binge watching some TV. You may call home but home is not your focus. Your work is and that is what it is all about. That is what evolves around you and you around it. It’s not a lifestyle for sure to have when you get back from a deployment.
Another phase is the physical fitness phase. During this phase, you squeeze a workout in every day and it is at least one hour in length or more if you can. You do two a day work outs if you could so maybe a run in the morning following by weight training in the evening. You will even do crossfit if you can if somebody is hosting one. During this phase you are still focusing on work but you realize that now is the only time to get into better physical shape and that being round is not the required shape. You may give up a sleep in day but you won’t, instead you will run 10 miles during the same time as the actual Army Ten Miler located in Washington D.C.
Another phase is that you will start attending a church service, reading your bible and praying everyday. For me, being a Christian, that was me, but I saw others who focused on their own beliefs. Personally, of the three, I enjoyed this one the most. I re-read some passages in the Bible and I felt a certain peace in what others would describe a very stressful period. I felt I grew closer with my faith as I prayed daily and when I went to service with fellow service members. It was like a community within a community and a way to learn about one another and help one another with the tasks at hand. It was also a way to share your problems and issues and to help carry each others burdens.
Now it was based on my experiences that typically you progress from one phase to another and vice versa. Sometimes you started off strong in your faith and then moved to workaholic and end up with physical fitness. Other times one can experience two at the same time or maybe even do all three simultaneous but that required a lot of skill and time management. Personally, I find myself always in one of the above. Prior to my diagnosis with Cancer, I was doing more workaholic with no physical and very little faith. Now I have an opportunity to increase both my physical and faith and focus now on a different career in which I can do all three.